Friday, 27 September 2019

A Guide to Berlin

Post Updated November 2020

For anyone who knows me, I have always been obsessed with visiting Germany. There is no specific reason for this, it's just somewhere that I have always had on my bucket list and have desperately wanted to visit for so many years. I can finally say that this summer I now have a big tick next to  'Visit Germany' on my bucket list!! I absolutely loved everything about Berlin and had the most amazing time - I would absolutely love to return one day! I love sharing my travel experiences so I thought I'd share a guide to Berlin and show you some of the best things to visit in this wonderful city!

reichstag


BERLIN ATTRACTION 1: REICHSTAG

This was one of my favourite things that we did in Berlin and I really recommend. You need to book in advance if you'd like to gain entry but it's free to book so it doesn't make a huge difference. You get taken to the top of the building and enter the glass dome where you're free to roam all the way to the top and look out over the city of Berlin. As you walk up there are facts and information about the history of the city and its governments which I found so interesting as I studied German history for A-level and learnt about it from the 1920s to the 1960s so it was a great way to refresh my knowledge again! At the top you can see so many of the major attractions and sights of the city and the view is amazing! 


BERLIN ATTRACTION 2: BERLIN WALL

Perhaps the main attraction or reason for visiting Berlin is the infamous Berlin Wall. I found it so funny how you literally walk out of the nearest metro station and then it's just there - it's such an incredible landmark that it feels odd for it to be so easily accessible. For some reason I thought it would be so much taller and had visions of an absolutely giant concrete structure but isn't the case. There are so many incredible bits of art all along the wall that you could spend a good hour walking up and down the wall admiring all the pieces!

berlin wall

BERLIN ATTRACTION 4: KADEWE

Perhaps not your most typical Berlin attraction but Kadewe was such a fun stop-off that it made it onto this list! Essentially it is the Harrods of Germany. Me and my boyfriend spent quite a bit of time walking around playing guess the price and seeing how much we couldn't afford to buy but it was fun anyway. We loved the pen area and spent probably slightly too long trying them all out and deciding our favourites. The food section also has some amazing bits to look at and they have a giant Brandenburg gate made from chocolate that was incredible!


BERLIN ATTRACTION 5: SOVIET WAR MEMORIAL

This place was such a hidden gem but it was lovely. It was so quiet when we went to visit that we wondered if it was closed as we saw nobody around. This is a lovely place to have a quiet stroll around and the gardens are lovely but the main feature is the absolutely huge, imposing statues that greet you in the middle. I think they were probably some of the biggest structures I've ever seen and as you walk closer towards them you realise the sheer scale of them. The memorial is located in Treptower Park which has some lovely walks too!

BERLIN ATTRACTION 6: GENDERMARKT

This was one of my favourite places that we went to explore and it was relatively quiet in terms of tourists too which is always a bonus. I thought this place was absolutely stunning and I loved spending time admiring the buildings and their architecture. Perhaps one of the best parts was the Ampelmann shop in the square, we became a little obsessed with Ampelmann as the week went on and the shops have so many snazzy things in there that we could never resist popping in for a look!


gendermarkt

Berlin is hands down one of my favourite places that I've visited and I would love to go again one day. This is just a little snippet of some of the things we visited and did but there are seemingly countless other places to explore; Alexanderplatz, Potsdamer Platz, the Sony Centre, Fersehtum, Olympic Park, Memorial to the Murdered Jews and the Brandenburg Gate are just a selection of the other places we explored. I am desperate to visit more places in Germany and return to Berlin! I hope you enjoyed this guide to Berlin and found something that you'd like to do if you visit!

Have you been to Berlin before? What do you recommend?

If you liked this post you might also enjoy 5 Days in Prague: A Travel Guide or A Guide to Amsterdam


Sunday, 22 September 2019

What to Expect During Your First Year at University

Post Updated October 2020

It's been nearly a whole year since I sat down to write a blog post and in that time a lot has changed. I managed to survive the entire year away from home, living in a completely new and different city, meeting what seemed like thousands of new people and passed my first year and actually enjoyed it. With all this mind, a university 'survival' guide seemed like an appropriate post to write given that is what I've spent the entire year doing. Therefore, without further ado, here are some things to expect during your first year at university and how to survive it!

girl wearing grey hoodie using macbook, studying with notebooks at university
Credit: Unsplash

1. YOU WILL LEARN HOW LITTLE YOU CAN ACTUALLY COOK

You will need to learn how to fend for yourself for breakfast, lunch, dinner and every snacking hour in between. Sure, living off of pot noodles and pasta sounds amazing for a few weeks but it gets very bland and repetitive. You don't need to be the next Gordon Ramsey or Jamie Oliver but having a few meals that you can actually prepare yourself (without poisoning you or your flatmates) will really help to make uni life seem a lot easier. Plan what you're going to eat and buy in the week - it makes life a whole lot simpler.

2. CARD GAMES ARE ESSENTIAL FOR FIRST YEAR

I didn't know any card games before I came to uni but that has changed dramatically. I've probably learnt more card games than I have useful things for my degree (but that is beside the point). They are a great way of breaking the ice with new people, they can bring out your competitive side and they can help to make things less awkward. My flat held a weekly card night and we all bought people round to join in which was a good way of meeting new people and making connections, whilst also playing some good card games.

3. YOU WON'T NEED STATIONERY

It's very tempting, especially if you're like me, to buy every single bit of cute stationery that you see but, in all honesty, you probably won't use it. For lectures, a notepad and pen or a laptop are all you need. You don't need the pastel highlights, 36 notebooks, colour co-ordinated post-it notes and paperclips and gel pens - you simply won't use them.

4. YOU WILL GET FRESHERS FLU

Be prepared to get hit with freshers flu at some point. You might think you won't get it but it will hit you like a tonne of bricks at some point so be prepared! Luckily, I only managed to get a 24-hour bout of it and didn't get ill for the rest of the year but for most people I knew getting ill seemed constant. Freshers flu will almost definitely hit you when you least expect it and completely wipe you out for a while so be prepped with lemsips, throat sweets and Netflix in order to nurse yourself into a better state.

5. YOU NEED TO MAKE YOUR ROOM YOURS

Making your room your own really helped me to settle in to uni life. Having pictures of friends and family and adapting my room to fit me made it feel less alien and strange and more like a second bedroom in a different location. It really did help to make the settling in period less daunting and having reminders of souvenirs of other things was a nice way to incorporate uni and home life.

6. TRY NOT TO SKIP TOO MUCH

It is so very very tempting to not attend your lectures, seminars, labs etc but you really should try. I wouldn't say I skipped lots in first year but there were days or hours where I just thought I really can't be bothered... On the whole, try and attend as much as you can as it is there for a reason and if you're paying the horrific sum of £9250(!!!) a year to go to uni you really should make the most of it.

Going to uni has been an experience that I have thoroughly enjoyed. I've met so many new people and been pushed out of my comfort zone a fair amount. I've been introduced to the world of clubbing (though that's not necessarily a world I wish to dive into very often at all), lectures, new people, cooking and being even more independent than before. It hasn't always been completely plain sailing and there have been a few bumps along the way but I can say that completing first year has been an absolute whirlwind of work and play and one that I have enjoyed very much. Here's to second year being as good and hopefully this gives you an idea of what to expect during your first year too!

Thursday, 19 September 2019

A Reflection on My First Year at University

Post updated October 2020

My first year of university seems to have gone by in absolute whirlwind to be completely honest. It only seems like a couple of months ago that I was starting out in the world of lectures and now BAM, I've only got 2 years left of education before the big wide world is well and truly upon me. If you're wondering about what first year will be like then I have a whole post covering everything that I discovered during that time and what I wish I'd known before starting university if you need more advice!

The first year was a complete mix of new people, new places and adjusting to a new lifestyle all in a relatively short space of time. 

glasses on book beside laptop, studying at uk university first year student
Credit: Unsplash

ROUTINE

Getting used to the routine of lectures and seminars along with having to fend for yourself and do everything for yourself takes a while to get used to, and certainly when it came to cooking did I find myself stuck in a rut of pasta, pasta and a little bit more pasta just to spice things up a bit. I loved the never-ending freedom of first year and being able to just decide to go out and being within walking distance to the city centre was such a novelty (especially for someone who had to drive 20-30 mins to get to anywhere vaguely interesting and with a life).

PERSONAL

A fair amount of personal things changed along with first year. I managed to find a boyfriend(!!!) which for someone as shy and awkward as me, this was quite a major life event! We've been together nearly 8 months as I write this post and things are very very good! However, also throughout first year I found myself drifting even more so from old friends and that's okay as I still have friends both new and old to accompany me through life.

WORKLOAD

The temptation to skip lectures was strong throughout first year as the fatal words of 'first year doesn't count' constantly echoes through your head. And yes, I skipped a couple of seminars (a few more than a couple) across the year but nothing too drastic. Adjusting to the university mentality in terms of studying also took quite a while. It's so easy to stick to what you know but university really is all about pushing your writing style out of its comfort zone and I have well and truly discovered that I will always be behind on reading no matter what.

This seems like quite a rambly and not much point to it post but it's been quite therapeutic to write. First year has been such a rollercoaster (an incredibly quick one too) and whilst I'm looking forward to second year, I know it's going to be so much more intense. But, I've got the right people with me and I'm feeling motivated so hopefully I've got this?

Are you starting university soon or have been through it? How did your first-year compare? 

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