Category: Abroad Blogger

Die Besucherin

Die Besucherin is a great example of how you can modify prefixes and suffixes in German words to create nouns or verbs. With the stem of Besuch, which means simply “visit,” you can create the verb by adding an -en at the end of the stem or -er at the end to describe a person, so Besucher means “visitor.” However, German makes you reference the gender of the person most of the time when you talk about him or her and, in this case, adding -in to the end of the word. Besucher specifies that the person who visited me was female.

My friend since 10th grade, Carmen, decided to  take some time off of school and travel this semester, which included the mandatory Eurotrip. What better starting point than at my place in Berlin?

So, after not seeing each other for more than six months, I got several calls from pay phones on my cell phone after work on Monday. Mind you, Carmen had to rebook her flight because of visa complications, so she wasn’t really sure when she was going to get into Berlin and she didn’t have a stable Internet connection. I ran to the Hauptbahnhof, the main train station  (and, by “ran,” I mean I got into a train and impatiently pushed the green button to open the door when we arrived at my station), which is four stories of trains. Carmen had told me to meet her at the Dunkin’ Donuts she was at, not realizing that there are, like, six of them in the station.

After working up a nice sweat in my business clothes, I finally found her at the Dunkin’ Donuts. Being the awesome person she is, she presented me with a rose her boyfriend had bought from a bum that weekend and a bottle of Kahlua she found at Duty-Free (it was Valentine’s Day when I picked her up). We trudged to my apartment and she unloaded her stuff before we met with some other female interns for delicious drinks made with Polish vodka. Needless to say, we were tired and went to bed relatively early on Monday. Unfortunately, I still had to work every morning, so Carmen was forced to entertain herself during the day. I think she Skyped and slept a lot, and on Wednesday I invited some interns over to  eat chicken cacciatore for dinner, which Carmen had spent all day cooking.

We had a slow week at work though, so I took Thursday off to show her around the city. We walked from my apartment all the way to Charlottenburg, the expensive Southern district of Berlin. It’s always interesting to walk around Berlin with non-Germans, because I’ve stopped noticing the weird little habits German have that I picked up. For instance, drinking in public is legal, and many people will walk around the train stations with an open beer in their hand. So I thought nothing about cracking open a beer after we went grocery shopping and drinking it on the train with Carmen, who may have been a little shocked. I also put my empty beer bottle down on the sidewalk after I finished drinking it, which kind of weirded her out. In Germany, you get money back when you return bottles. Beer bottles will get you eight cents and so it’s not uncommon to see people digging through public trash cans for the bottles to bring back for money and it makes setting beer bottles down in public acceptable.

Carmen was also introduced to the junk food of Germany, which is the Turkish Doener. I realize I write about that a lot, but I absolutely love Turkish food here. Moving on, we decided to check out my district and walk around for her last night before we went back to my place and fell asleep. Sadly, Carmen was going to Switzerland over the weekend, so she left me early on Friday morning. We parted at the train station on my way to work and she somehow made it to the main train station in fifteen minutes, which is quite a feat. Luckily she’ll be coming again in March and so until then I have to say “Bis bald!”

-Miranda Murray

Die Arbeit

Die arbeit is once again one of those super basic German words you learn right off the bat when you start learning German because it means “work,” and there isn’t a lot to say about it.

I have officially been in Berlin for a week at this point and have only 11 weeks to go before I am done with my internship. I feel like it’s going to fly by and before I know it, I’ll be heading home. Because this is a public blog, I’m not going to talk a lot about my internship, but I will say that my first day was about getting acquainted with the workplace and I was lucky enough to have gone through training with another intern instead of by myself. If you want to see what I wore for my first day, I took a picture:

I joke that I have yet to see my apartment in the daylight, but it was true up until yesterday. By the time I get home from work, it’s dark outside and I have to bury my face in my scarf like a turtle while I scurry home as quickly as possible to get warm.

On Thursday I broke the monotony of coming home freezing and just cuddling in my blankets and going to bed by inviting the other interns over for dinner and drinks. It was really fun to just chill out and get to know everyone, and I ate way too much delicious food. By the time the last of the interns left at midnight, I was so tired that I just passed out in my clothes and make-up and woke up the next morning to find my bedroom table looking like this:

This is sadly all the pictures I have because even though I did take pictures, I left the memory card in my computer, so none of them were saved. I hope that this becomes a weekly gathering though, so then I’ll have pictures to share n Germany you pay Pfand when you buy bottled drinks, and then you get that money back when you return the bottles to the store, so I’m looking forward to some extra pocket change next time I go shopping!

On Friday, I was really lame and stayed home to watch “16 and Pregnant” on German MTV, which has German subtitles but keep the original voices. It’s really fun to see how they choose to translate certain American colloquialisms into German.

On Saturday, I awoke to a text from one of my co-workers asking if I wanted to go jogging around the city in 30 minutes or so. She came to my place and we jogged around some of the running paths in Berlin, and it was gorgeous. Even though it was windy and a little rainy, my hoodie kept me warm and we found this awesome cemetery with pieces of the wall still intact. We followed the river that runs through Berlin and goes through all the main tourist attractions. It was really awesome to run by the Berlin Hauptbahnhof and the Berliner Dom. We decided to end our jog when we got to this gorgeous golden synagogue in one of my favorite sections of Berlin (that I unfortunately don’t know the name of!)

Then we decided to go grocery shopping and eat at a Turkish restaurant that my co-worker knew of. She insisted that I try the Gözleme, which is like a quesadilla with meat but without cheese and a different kind of bread. It was so good to have warm food in my stomach, since I have been eating mostly cheese and bread since I’ve been to Germany. Here’s a picture I found of it:

If you’re ever in Berlin, you should definitely try this. Actually, you should try all Turkish food when you’re in Berlin! I can already tell you there will be a blog devoted entirely to food in the near future. Until then, Tschüss!

-Miranda Murray

Berlin For Beginners

The word for “introduction” in German is “Vorstellung,” which, when broken down, is the combination of the preposition “vor,” meaning “in front of,” and “stellung” which means “position.” Vorstellung can also mean “imagination.” It’s actually a rather fitting word for my first post. With my dwindling number of hours on American soil, this post is one part introduction and one part ideas about what I think and hope Berlin may be.

In a nutshell, I’m taking a semester off  from UNC and instead am taking advantage of an internship opportunity in Berlin that I was offered. This internship doesn’t provide housing and is unpaid, so right now it feels like I am test-driving real adulthood for three months by attempting to set myself up in a foreign city and to survive on a meager budget.

I am absolutely terrified that I will fail miserably and hate every minute of it, but I also hope and pray that I will love living in a city. It’s this unknown that exhilarates and scares me.

I have been in love with Germany since I was 15 years old and met German exchange students at my high school. They somehow seemed so cultured to me, something that I desperately wanted to be. I believed that if I learned another language, I could also be seen as cultured. So I vowed to  become an exchange student in Germany and in 2008 I finally made it over to Mansfeld, Germany, where I went to German high school for a year.

While I can’t say that it made me any classier, my year abroad did help me become fluent in German, which makes moving to Berlin a little less crazy even though I probably wouldn’t have even had the opportunity to come here had I not learned German. Gah.

Since school let out, I have been steadily collecting business clothes and now have my emerald green suitcase packed full of crisp button-up shirts and high heels.

However, while I love the size of my suitcase now, I am going to hate it when I arrive in Berlin with no one to drive me anywhere. From prior experience, lugging all of your clothing across a city on public transportation after an eight-hour flight is not a pleasant task, so I am currently figuring out the most efficient way to drag my crap around. I also talked to a German woman today over Skype about subleasing her apartment today, and we’re supposed to meet on Saturday to figure everything out. I rather hope everything works out, as finding an apartment while trying to start a new job sounds damn near impossible.

With trying to get everything straightened out before I leave to go to Germany, I barely have time to be nervous until night, when I sit down and actually think about what I’m about to do.

I find myself always thinking back to this card my apartment renter had stuck to the wall when I think about my situation: Leap and the net will appear.

Let’s hope it’s sound advice.

-Miranda Murray

Ciao From Firenze!

Florence is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It is full of art, food, culture and of course, fashion. Everyone in Florence seems to have her own style. The Italians are naturally beautiful people, but the way that they dress themselves is different than the way people in the U.S. do. Corresponding with the Italian way of life, everything is carefully thought out—as if one’s outfit is a work of art. Italians are very proud of who they are, and they are not shy about boasting their individual personalities. Their appreciation for life, detail and beauty is truly a unique concept that cannot be found many other places. I hope I can share with you some of my experiences and visions here in this melting pot of creativity, beauty and passion.

Here are a few highlights of fashion I’ve seen on the streets:

Puffy jackets, fur, leather boots, brown leather shoulder bags, cropped leather jackets (leather, leather, leather), neck scarves for men, chunky wool scarves wrapped several times, pops of color, skinny jeans and minimal jewelry. Everyone here looks like they’re someone important; like they’re straight out of a magazine. They are clean, fresh, tailored; no detail is left unattended to. Every piece adds its own flavor to the mix.

Throughout the semester I will try to capture the essence of the Florentines and hopefully of other countries in Europe. I will share with you the trends and styles I see on the streets. Until next time, arrivederci!

-Eloise Hamilton

Anne Kreuser is blogging while studying abroad in London this semester.

I’m living with 13 other people this semester.  13!  This means there’s a fair representation of vegetarians in the bunch.  I’ve read enough Michael Pollan to know that simply reducing your meat intake is one of the easiest ways to reduce your carbon footprint, so this veg-influence has got my culinary mind whirring. I found a recipe for eggless double chocolate cookies that are called World Peace Cookies for a reason.  I’ve successfully completed the majority of my shopping at the farmers market on Saturday mornings.  But as the weather turns chillier, I want to feel warm and full and satisfied.  And I’ve found the perfect ingredient.

Quinoa is a grain that is actually related to spinach.  It’s packed with protein, magnesium and iron, making it the perfect addition to anyone’s diet, especially a vegetarian’s. Taking only minutes to cook, it’s a snap to make, and its mild, nutty flavor pairs extremely well with savory and sweet dishes.  Pick some up next time you’re grocery shopping, and try out these vegetarian recipe ideas.

Quinoa with mushrooms and onions

1 yellow onion, diced

1 package shitake mushrooms, sliced

1 t. fresh thyme

1 c. white wine (can substitute vegetable stock)

1 c. quinoa

2 c. water

1 t. olive oil

Bring water to a boil, add quinoa and cook until slightly underdone.  Quinoa should still have a bite, about 10 minutes.

In the meantime, sautee onion in large skillet in olive oil until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add mushrooms and thyme.  Cook until mushrooms are browned and tender.  Add cooked quinoa and white wine.  Cook and stir until quinoa has absorbed most of the white wine and the pan becomes dry, about 5 minutes.

Quinoa parfait

1 c. Greek yogurt

2 T. honey

½ c. cooked and cooled quinoa

Hand full of fresh berries

Layer ingredients in a wine glass for a beautiful presentation, or pack away in a reusable plastic container for a morning pick-me-up between classes.

– Anne Kreuser

Chicken and Leek Soup

Senior Anne Kreuser is spending her fall semester studying abroad in London and working at a PR firm.

I’ve left my squishy queen sized bed behind.  I’ve forgotten about the way the crisp, autumn air makes Polk Place smell on a morning walk to class. I’ve turned in the familiar for an exciting semester studying and interning abroad in London.  And after being here for only a week, I’m missing all that is home in North Carolina.  A venture to the expansive Borough Market under the London Bridge brought me home with a bag full of groceries, and I ran to the one place that will always make me feel at home: the kitchen.

Here’s a recipe that reminds me of my mom’s home cooking, and is easy enough to whip up in about 30 minutes.  Make sure to have some reusable containers handy; the longer this soup sits, the better it tastes!

Chicken soup with leeks and potatoes

2 chicken breasts with bone and skin
4 leeks, cleaned and sliced
5 yukon gold potatoes, cut in half inch cubes
1 carrot, chopped
1 yellow onion
2 garlic cloves
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 quarts of chicken stock
1/4 c. of crème fraiche or heavy cream
2 T. olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Slather the chicken with  1 T. oil, salt and pepper, and roast in a 350° oven for about 25 minutes, or until the juices run clear.  When cooked, remove the meat from bones and discard skin. Chop into bite sized chunks.

Fill a pot with cold water and add potatoes.  Bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 15 minutes.

In the meantime, place remaining oil in a large stock pot over medium heat.  Saute onions and carrots for about 5 minutes, until softened.  Add garlic and leeks and season generously.  Sautee until soft, about 10 minutes.  Add chicken stock and thyme sprigs and bring to a boil.  Let simmer for about 5 minutes.  Add chicken and potatoes.  By this point, the leaves of the thyme should have separated from the woody stems– remove them.  At this stage, you can transfer to reusable containers or right to a bowl.

Just before serving, stir in a dollop of crème fraiche or heavy cream to add richness.  Pair with a slice of crusty bread to mop up the goodness, and you’ll be transported back to home in no time!

For vegetarians: Simply nix the chicken and substitute vegetable stock.  For a more filling soup, consider adding egg noodles or cous cous.

– Anne Kreuser