May 2018 Favourites 💖

Hello everyone! After three (yes, three!) back-to-back long weekends here in Berlin, I am finally getting back to writing. Not that I have not been busy, but it takes a while to turn on the switch, if you know what I mean. As an example, during the past week I’ve been completing a short story, and it really drains you. Writing fiction actually feels like being an actor somehow, and you have to “be in character” for the duration of the film or the story. That’s why I thought I’d start with a simple list of my May favourites before I delve into heavier posts, like the tips for the Telc C1 Hochschule exam, which I promised.

My favourites of the month will be products, people or places I’ve discovered in Berlin but I may include other random stuff if I find them awesome. This is something new that I’m trying out so let me know how you guys feel about it. 🙂

  1. The Rain. If you have Netflix and you’re tired of the usual storylines, I suggest that you check out this Scandinavian series. This gem from Denmark tells the story of a group of young people and how they deal with the rain when it suddenly becomes deadly. Although the first episode was a bit painful to watch, the rest of them will get you hooked.zkeqlkgrb6mlqgqr3ob7.jpeg
  2. Thai Park. I’m not sure what happened but editing my post about this resulted in it being deleted, and I’m just left with a mouth-watering photo of the noodles I ate at the Thai Park, which is located at Wilmersdorf. Here’s the photo I shared:

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    The only thing I can say is: GO. THERE. NOW!! It’s that good.

  3. Egg Cooker. The first time I saw one, I was like, “What on earth is that?!” To cook eggs, we usually do it the old-fashioned way in Asia, which means a pot of boiling water. But here in Germany, they’ve found a way to cook several eggs at once, just the way you want it: hard-boiled, soft-boiled and everything in between. This comes in handy when you want to make an egg sandwich or egg salad. Yum!42273479-1-f
  4. @yougottaeatthis_berlin. It’s a popular Instagram account that features some of the most delicious dishes that you can eat here in Berlin. Just looking at his account, makes me want to go and order some pasta, burger and rice, all in one sitting, haha. I like how his feed has no-frills, just food kinda vibe. He posts a photo of what he’s having, tags the location, tells you the name of the dish and how much it costs. It’s as simple as that.Screen Shot 2018-05-24 at 16.39.53
  5. IndomieI know, I know. It is SO unhealthy. But it is SOOO good. Indomie is a well-known Indonesian brand that makes the tastiest, most flavourful instant noodles that may or may not be pumped with MSG. To prove to you how good it is, a restaurant in Milan even added it to their menu. The soupy ones, for me, are unremarkable, but the fried noodles are that savoury that some friends I know order boxes of it. I suggest the hot & spicy as well as the jumbo Mi Goreng ones. Seriously, it will change your life!indomie-instant-noodles-mi-goreng-80g

So there you have it, just some of the things that make everyday life in Berlin awesome. 🙂

What are your favourites this month?

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5 Awesome Qualities Germans Have

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People always say that Germans are cold, unfriendly and brutally honest. 

In movies, they are often portrayed as angry, evil-scheming criminals who never smile. But living in Berlin for more than two years now, although a bit bumpy at the start, has got me thinking that people should know about the wonderful personality traits that Germans have. Here are just some of the things that I’ve noticed that make me admire them:

1. Confident. Germans, especially the young people, are outspoken and not afraid to say what they think. That’s the case during my time at design school where students promptly answer when they know a question or when they want to share an idea. This is so different from when I was in Asia. No one wanted to speak up. Being called by a teacher was something everyone was afraid of. Here, they speak their mind openly, and sometimes, I feel like they’re even talking on the same level with the professors.

2. Thrifty. Boy, can Germans save up. I find this the most awesome trait of all because this is what I struggle with, HAHA. They set some money aside every month and they don’t eat out as much. I can tell you that the whole time that I’ve been in Berlin, I’ve eaten McDonald’s just once. Burger King? I’ve never set foot in one. When I was in Singapore, I ate out all day, everyday. McDonald’s was my midnight snack, lol. But here, they talk about retirement and taxes for breakfast, so they really drill the money stuff into you. And I LOVE IT! I get so inspired by my husband’s thrifty ways that I (mostly) only spend on the essentials now, and think before I buy something. Well, I try, haha.

3. Responsible. From what I have observed so far, Germans seem to have a pretty strong work ethic. They take their duties very seriously. Come what may, they will finish whatever task they were given and make sure that they fulfilled everything down to the T. Even when sick, they will go to school or work. If I remember correctly, this has been featured in a news report recently, and that it’s being discouraged because their colleagues and fellow students can get infected. In the  BBC documentary, Make Me a German, the guy works at a pencil factory, and there is no dilly-dallying there. No checking Facebook or taking breaks. Work is work.

4. Loyal. My husband has two best friends. One he met when he was a child, and the other during his university days, and they are still best friends to this day! Isn’t that amazing? I have made a lot of friends in different countries, but not a lot of them make the effort to keep in touch. But once Germans have warmed up to you and consider you a friend, they are very loyal. Even though you don’t see each other everyday, they make sure to send you a message or call you once in a while, which is something you don’t hear of anymore these days.

5. Environmentally conscious. I have to admit, before I arrived here, I never really thought about the environment. I mean sure, I do my best to keep everything clean and not throw anything on the street. Uhm, hellooo?! I lived in Singapore, lol. But Germans really think of the environmental consequences their actions make. They carry their own bags to the supermarkets, try to buy fair trade, vegan and organic goods, recycle their trash and even pay you for it. It’s not just a once a month thing for them, it’s their lifestyle.

So there you have it!
Which personality trait would you most like to have/ develop? 💪

That day I got lost in Ikea

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Ikea is probably the most popular furniture store here in Berlin, or even in Germany. Every time I go there, I just have to buy something. But anything that I do NEED to buy, I can’t find somehow. It’s a giant maze, I tell ya. Furniture stores are pretty much out of the way here though, so you would need to drive. The good news is that the furniture and DIY stores can usually be found together, so if you’re planning to buy something, you can haul everything in one go.

Anyway, I checked out the Ikea at Südkreuz and it pretty much looked the same as the other Ikeas I have been to. The styles, colors, and designs are chic and modern, but very uniform so you can expect your neighbor and friends to have the same living room as you. No, seriously, I have seen identical pillows and tables at my friends’ places. Even my father-in-law has the same couch as we do, haha.

Once there, you will have to spend about half a day to a whole day. The good thing is that they have a restaurant, where the prices range from 5 Euros up, and the food place right after you’ve paid, where you can get ice cream, drinks and a hotdog for as low as 1.50. Isn’t that amazing?!

Ikea also makes a big deal about how they designed the place so that you will have to stop at every station. That’s how I got lost. I thought I was already nearing the checkout counter, but I was actually moving further away from it because I was getting distracted by all the shiny things.

I see what you did there, Ikea.

Well, finally, I somehow found the checkout counter and I lined up behind one of those. I didn’t know I was queueing up at the self-checkout though, and I was horrified, like what should I do? I’ve never tried it before! But I didn’t need to fear because it was surprisingly easy to use. Just unpack all your stuff, press start, use that gun-like scanner, and scan your items. Make sure it’s pointed at the barcode. Don’t worry, it will beep when you do it right. Once you’re done scanning, just tap the proceed to payment button. Choose the type of payment, and insert your card. The instructions differ based on what type of card you’re using so make sure that you know what card you have. After that, the receipt comes out and you’re done!

I hope they have self-checkouts at supermarkets soon because I want to do it all the time now. No more waiting in lines and getting the wrong change! In Singapore, they already have this machine that acts as a cash register. You just have to put your money in and it gives you the right change. Easy-peasy. I know this is mostly a post about Ikea and that I get too excited about self-checkout counters, but who wouldn’t be? Lol.

Do you also shop at Ikea?

 

On the day of my Telc C1 Hochschule exam

Hello! I would like to share my Telc C1 Hochschule Exam experience because I think it will really be helpful for anyone who’s planning on taking it and also because I might forget about it, so here goes.

Before the exam
On the day of the exam, I was very nervous and sort of not myself because I only had two hours of sleep the night before. Yes, I was that nervous. Anyway, I got there early at around 8, because the people at the language school told us to be there by 8:30 am because the exam was going to start at 9. The room was really small and the chairs and tables were near each other and sort of cramped, so I suggest finding an exam location with more spacious rooms. I had a banana as a snack, and the school was kind enough to supply us with gummy bears, chocolates, and bottled water, so there was no need to worry about getting dehydrated. I did bring my own food and drinks though.

Starting the exam
When the examiner was there, we got our answer sheets and then we were asked to fill in the front page, where you write your personal information. He also asked for our passports or resident cards before that just to check if you are the right person. I suggest that you empty your bladder and eat something at least 15 minutes before the exam starts.

Leseverstehen & Sprachbausteine
Soon enough, the exam began and we started with Leseverstehen (reading). Together with the Sprachbausteine (grammar), you get about an hour and a half here. After that, we had a quick break of about 15-20 minutes. You have got to eat something to keep up your strength, but don’t eat anything too heavy or else you won’t be able to think. I found the Leseverstehen to be very difficult even though I can read complex passages. Take note that this can be heavy scientific stuff so the words are very different from what you would normally read. The papers were collected right before the break, so make sure to allot time for checking your answers and that every question is answered.

Hörverstehen & Schriftlicher Ausdruck
Next up was 
Hörverstehen (listening). This required 40 minutes of intense concentration and vigorous note-taking. Now this second half of the exam is combined with the Schriftlicher Ausdruck (writing), and that’s an added 70 minutes. You can go to the restroom in between, by the way, but only one at a time. The listening part of the exam went well for me, and I was able to focus on what the speakers were saying. Don’t worry about the CD players that they use. You will still be able to hear even if you’re at the back of the room. In my case, you could choose where you sit, so I sat near enough to be able to hear, but not so near that the loudness would affect my concentration. For writing, you can choose between two given scenarios. I chose the one where I can say more stuff, by the way. It actually took me a whole hour to write 2 and 1/2 pages with a medium-sized handwriting. In the remaining 10 minutes, I read my essay and checked the grammar, and re-checked my answers for the listening part. Once the time was up, they collected the papers, and that was the end of the Schriftliche Prüfung (written exam) and time for lunch.

I was SO exhausted right after, what with the lack of sleep, proper food and all, that I just wanted to lie down on the hallway, LOL. Anyway, before you leave the room, the examiners will give you a note to tell you what time you needed to do the Mündliche Prüfung (oral exam). My partner and I were fortunate to be given a later time so we could still feed our bellies and practice. The others who were not so lucky had to do the speaking part right away. If you can have a different day to do the speaking part, I would suggest doing that, because doing it all in one day is kind of overwhelming. It’s like your brain has been squeezed during the first half of the day, that you’re not really sure if you have any German left for the second half. But if you are the type of person who wants to get everything done in one shot, then go for the full day one.

Mündlicher Ausdruck
After lunch, my strength came back and I was ready to go for the last part of the exam. I didn’t want to practice at the last minute, so I just did a bit with my partner and relaxed my mind. We had 20 minutes of preparation for this, which meant, we had to go into a room, read what topic we’ve been given with and write our presentation during that time. My partner and I were seated at opposite ends of a table, and we’ve been given different subjects to discuss. I’m the kind of person who has to write everything down, and not just with bullet points, so I wrote a lot. After that, your names will be called, and you have to do a presentation, a summary of what your partner presented, and a discussion. The examiner kept looking at the clock so I kept thinking that my 3 minutes were up, which is why I spoke faster and faster. 

After the exam
Once done, they told us to expect the results within 2-3 weeks, but I actually got it in 4, because of the Easter holidays. After the exam, my partner and I just went window shopping to let the stress out. We were SO glad that it was over!

Anyway, this post is pretty long already, so I’ll cut it off here even though I still want to write more about it, haha. Don’t worry, in my next posts, I will be giving tips about each part of the exam and even what to bring, so you won’t be so anxious and worried like I was. I hope this helps you Deutsch learners out there! Let me know if you have any questions and I will do my best to answer. 🙂

Telc C1 Hochschule: I passed!

Hi everyone! I just wanted to share the good news.

I PASSED THE TELC C1 HOCHSCHULE EXAM!! YAAAYYYY!!

I know it seems like I’m making a big deal out of it, BUT it IS a big deal! The past three months have not been easy, what with my portfolio submission, exam preparation, and of course, taking the exam, but I am so glad to finally have received the certificate.

So what does this mean, exactly?

With a Telc Deutsch C1 Hochschule certificate, you’re able to apply at universities and work at companies here in Germany. A C1 level means that “you are able to easily use the German language during your leisure time, business or education and can understand demanding texts without difficulty.” (Deutsche Welle)

As promised, I will be posting more about the exam in the coming days. For now, I want to reward myself with a well-deserved ice cream and a walk around Berlin.

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C1 will be indicated in your certificate when you pass.

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Here’s my certificate, you guys! 🙂

Note: On the certificate, you can see the different parts of the exam and the maximum number of points that you can receive for each.

Ciao for now!

How many hours it takes to master German (C1 level)

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Genie in German means, funnily enough, a genius. 

And while when you start learning German, you kind of wish you had a genie or that you were a genius so that you can speak fluently all of a sudden, it doesn’t work that way.

No, nothing works that way.

It takes hard work and dedication, day in and day out, to actually be good at something. This week I found out that I have spent 800+ hours learning German. That’s only the hours I spent at language schools by the way, and not the hours I slaved away learning the different articles and cases by myself. The hours spent talking to my husband, his family, the cashiers at the supermarket, yes, all in German, don’t count either. But I’m guessing I’ve clocked in a total of about 2,000 hours or more, what with reading books, listening to the radio and spouting out some sort of German to my friends at design school.

Anyway, this is just my experience in learning Deutsch. It’s different for everyone, I mean if you really are a genius or have a photographic memory, then 6 months is probably enough. But on average, it takes about 1,000 hours, and how much you actually learn in an hour.

In upcoming posts, I would like to share my Telc C1 Deutsch Hochschule exam experience, because I haven’t read any on the internet and I think it will be really helpful. I will write about the test format and the maximum points for each, as well as my experience attending an exam preparation course and where I did the exam itself.

Lastly, I just want to say to anyone who is starting something, like moving to a new country, learning a new language or starting their own business, that it’s going to be okay. A lot of things are probably uncertain and it’s going to be very hard, but hang in there. With hard work, dedication and a prayer, you can reach more than what a genie (or a genius) can ever grant you.

🥑 Kärrecho – Venezuelan Flavour in Berlin

Hello everyone! This week I wanted to get out of the house and try something different because the sun finally started shining and the weather is just glorious. Wanting to catch up during lunch, my friend suggested that we meet up at Kärrecho, a Venezuelan restaurant here in Berlin. I heard that they served Arepas here, which is kind of like bread that’s made out of cornmeal, so I wanted to get a taste of it and Venezuelan cuisine, in general.

It was very warm outside but the place offered a cool, tropical vibe, so we grabbed a table and sat near the window. Although everything looked clean and freshly painted, it still had a homey vibe to it. It even had an old Singer sewing machine near the counter. You know, the one that everyone’s grandmother seems to have. 😀

4Here’s the front counter. They also offer canned coconut water for 4 Euros.
That big barrel at the side reminds me of the series, How I met your Mother, haha. 

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A big blackboard with cute scribbles and drawings. I forgot to write something on it!

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Here it is, folks. The deliciously creamy “The Cool Queen”, which they also call the Queen of the Arepas. It’s stuffed with shredded chicken, avocado and mayonnaise. I really liked its taste and the fact that it was healthy made me feel good about eating it. And who doesn’t love avocados?

It can be a bit too creamy though, so I suggest that you add just a bit of chilli and more of the garlic sauce that they offer. The garlic sauce is AMAZING. When I go back there, I might ask if I can buy a bottle or two of those.

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This is the Limonada. I forgot what was in it, but it was very refreshing.


Kärrecho
Neue Bahnhofstraße 25
10245 Berlin
Tuesday-Saturday: 12:00-22:00 

So that was my adventure this week. 🙂 Until next time!
Have you tried Venezuelan food before?  What’s your latest adventure?