Language exchanges on Tandem are great – but how does it feel to test out your language skills in a real life situation?

Our competition winner, Seray, recently visited Berlin, Germany – the home of Tandem’s HQ – to experience a different culture first hand. Seray is a student from Turkey and uses Tandem to practice English, German, Spanish and Finnish. She won the competition after sharing an amazing story about her friendship with her Tandem partner from Mexico, Eduardo.

We caught up with her to find out how her trip went.

Did you know much German before you visited Berlin?

In Turkey, I learned German at High School. I had also practiced on Tandem, so I was sure I would understand what was going on and make some basic conversation. The first time I went out in Berlin by myself I was pleased to overhear and understand a conversation between a mother and a daughter – I hadn’t forgotten everything! They were talking about cookies 🙂

What did you do during your trip?

The first place I visited was the Christmas Market on Alexanderplatz. I tried ‘Kartofellpuffer’ – a kind of potato pancake with applesauce – and enjoyed the music and great atmosphere. Seeing the Berlin Wall at the East Side Gallery was awesome too. My favourite place, however, was the Brandenburger Tor, which is really royal-looking and beautiful.

What differences did you notice between Germany and Turkey?

Food in Germany is very different. In Turkey, we eat for lunch or dinner what Germans have for breakfast! However, there are a lot of Turkish people in Berlin so it wasn’t hard for me to find some more traditional Turkish food when I started to miss it a little. Transportation was also a bit strange. In Berlin, many people walked around or rode bicycles, even though it was winter. In Turkey, people prefer to drive about in cars – they don’t like to walk or bike as much as the Germans do!

Can you recommend any useful phrases to use in Berlin?
  • Ich bin Seray. / My name is Seray.
  • Ich komme aus der Türkei. / I come from Turkey.
  • Könnten Sie mir bitte helfen? / Could you please help me?
  • Könnten Sie bitte etwas langsamer sprechen? / Could you speak more slowly please?
Did you learn any new phrases?

I thought I would mainly speak “Hochdeutsch” (high German), but actually I ended up speaking English even more than German. As German people speak it so well, this has motivated me to speak even better English!

Would you come again?

Of course! Though my trip was super busy, I didn’t see everything so there is more for me to explore another time. For example, I will definitely visit the Kreuzberg district in the future, where there are lots of Turkish restaurants. I also want to see Checkpoint Charlie someday, as this a special historic symbol of the Cold War in Berlin.

We’re so glad you liked Berlin, Seray! Thanks for coming to visit us 🙂

Have you been to Berlin? How was it different from your home country? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook.

All photo credit: Irene Wissel

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