A Day in Dresden

In part due to Covid-19, in part due to me being a person of habits, I haven’t had the chance to visit a new city in a very long time. Back in March 2020, my family and I booked tickets to Malta. The weekend we were supposed to fly out, the world entered into lockdown, one country at a time. Uncertain of what might happen, we cancelled our tickets, sure that we would get to visit in a couple of weeks after the two-week lockdown would lift. You know the rest, I’m sure 🙂

I start with this prelude to say, it’s been a while since I’ve been to a new city. A lot of my travelling is in cities I’ve been to before (regional gems in the Balkans, like Tirana, Ulqin, Thessaloniki; even Berlin I’d been to a good number of times before moving here). Where’s the novelty?

Enter that two-week free-travel deal for students that the German train authority announced – and I was ready to see a new place for the first time in forever. This time, I chose Dresden.

I chose Dresden because (a) I’d never been before, (b) it was relatively close, and (c) my dear grandfather had visited it back in his day and always talked about how beautiful it was. We even have a vintage Dresden picture book in my grandparents home that I (of course) never cared to look through, but I will next time I visit! Because, we live and we learn!

Dresden was absolutely mesmerising. The first impression, as the train was nearing the city was: wow, a lot of beautiful Black and Yellow hues and a lot of very unique architecture. From what I’ve gathered of Germany, there’s very regional aesthetics in how residential buildings look: the north is full of red brick, the south was full of flat facades and pointy roofs, Berlin is well … Prishtina 2.0. Dresden was very unique and very beautiful. See for yourself!

My second impression was that it was very quiet. I went with some university friends on a Friday, and for a Friday (and perhaps, compared to buzzing Berlin), Dresden was almost entirely empty. The historic city center was also entirely void of any commercial western stores like H&M and co. (They were still there, just a bit further away). I kind of appreciated that? It felt a bit disconnected from the buzz, and that’s something I used to appreciate in travelling (before globalisation and social media low-key ruined it for me).

I think originally, back in the day, travelling was meant as both an opportunity to see something new, and an opportunity to escape your reality. Nowadays, or at least for me, it’s always felt like, sure I get to see something new, but I sure cannot escape my reality, because there are constant reminders of globalisation (read: the same H&M stores) all around (and we’re always still connected to our realities by the email app on our phones).

What I mean to say is, Dresden felt different. Maybe it was the lack of commercial space shoved in the city center, maybe it was the quietness of it all … I don’t know. But, I really loved it, and I can’t wait to add it to my list of beloved travel-repeats again soon.

Thank you for reading!

Rrita

“Freimarkt” in Berlin

Today, I went to a lovely fall funfair in Berlin. These town fairs are one of the things I enjoy most about Germany. If you’ve never been to one, think of these as sort of Octoberfest set ups, but in a smaller scale. As far as I understand the process (not too German yet, so I cannot be super sure), every town gets fairs a few times a year, during different times of the year. Bremen, for example, always had Freimarkt in the winter and Osterweise in the spring. I’d been meaning to look into when Berlin’s fairs would start, but with the pandemic and everything, I wasn’t sure I could expect one this year.

Except, turns out I could!

After joining my university friend Trang for a morning run today (yes – my first morning run; maybe a story for another blog), she told me she had found something fun which we could do during the day, and this fun thing turned out the be a list of fun things, among which was also Berlin’s Herbst Rummel. We decided to try that one, neither of us sure of what to expect (except, I was hoping it would be a fair!). To make the whole adventure extra fun, we’ve been having the absolute best weather here lately. A sort of delayed summer (which we were robbed of, during the actual summer months). See the pictures for yourself!

Around mid-day, we made our way to the fair and got to enjoy some very fun rollercoaster rides, food, fun and sun. We accidentally picked the ‘worst’ ride as our first, and because the fair was relatively empty when we got there, Trang and I got to ride the rollercoaster on our own, which sort of added to the terror (I have a collection of pictures as a child crying in rollercoasters, next to my baby brother who would be having a blast; again, maybe for a different blog). All other rides after, felt like a piece of cake!

These fairs also always have these delicious snacks that I love and always get – and this one had them too! Chocolate covered fruits mmm! Delicious! We also had a quintessential German lunch of bratwurst, pommes, baked mushrooms, and of course, bier!

Economics-student-talks-inflation tangent: The tickets in these fairs, some 10 years ago, used to be 3 euro a ride. I remember because my sweet bachelor student self felt it was *so* pricy! This time around, rides were 6 euros a ride. Why? How? Can somebody stop inflation please? Thank you! </inflation rant over>

Another cool ride, and on-theme for Halloween, was this geisterbahn (‘ghost train’). Check out the fun decorations … that tree is crying red tears 😂. Inside the ride, it was completely dark and full of ‘scary’ monsters.

We also went to a mirror maze, and it was the first time for me! I’d always seen these on TV but never tried them on my own. It wasn’t difficult to get around, but it really was messing with my brain. I don’t know if I would put myself through that again, I always feared that I would bump my nose into a mirror accidentally.

Anyways, it was a very very lovely day, and I had a lot of fun! I hope the world can get to normal soon (without mandatory office presence though … let’s agree to work from home forever!), so we can all freely enjoy funfairs and travelling again.

Thank you for reading!

Rrita

Revisiting Hamburg & Remembering Sweet Moments

Way back when I was a sweet 18 – 21 year old bachelor student in Bremen, us cutesy Bremen-kids would love to take the regional train to Hamburg, to spend a day or night in the big city. While I always thought Bremen was way cuter, Hamburg was a very nice addition to my bachelor experience, as it let us have a “big-city” break every once in a while.

HAMBURG & BACHELOR RRITA

Back when we were students, we’d go to Hamburg semi-frequently, either for shopping (online shopping wasn’t as big in 2011 as it is now) or for bar hopping along the Reperbahn (fun fact: after graduating, I found out that a bunch of bars there are apparently managed by Albanians? Not sure how true that is, but I would’ve been the coolest kid if I could’ve got my friends in!). Eventually, some of my college friends even spend their internship semester in Hamburg, so the rest of us Bremen-plebs could spend the night there instead of running to catch the last train back at 2am.

Hamburg is full of fun memories: one time, my parents came to visit me before Christmas and they flew directly to Hamburg (this was also the first time my brother got to stay home entirely alone, as he was still in school! #milestones). We spent a fun time checking out the Christmas markets and taking pictures in front of big Christmas trees in malls. I remember, because I used to joke with them that mall Christmas trees aren’t that special :-). Now, thinking back, I think they were pretty special – special enough to house a sweet memory like this!

The first ever time I flew alone was also through Hamburg. The first time I flew to Bremen, my dad came with me to help me settle. By the end of the first semester, I needed to travel back home and – for the first time! – alone. I had gotten a ticket with this shady airline (BellAir? Was that a thing or am I misremembering?) that used to cancel tickets and later went bankrupt. My plane would be leaving from Hamburg sometime very early in the morning. An over planner even at 18, I had realised that it was way too risky for me to wake up in the morning and travel to Hamburg that way. Instead, I packed everything and went the night before to spend the night at the airport. It’s a funny story, but turns out I wasn’t the only over planner here! On the train, I ran into a South Korean girl from my class who was going to spend the night at the airport as well 🙂 And so, the two of us stayed all night at the airport until we could both fly home.

REVISITING HAMBURG

I haven’t really been to Hamburg since (it’s quite up north, and far), but since moving to Berlin, I’ve been thinking about doing it. A couple of weeks ago, the German train authority (that’s a thing right?) decided to #bless students and their student train tickets. Usually, you can only use your student train ticket in your city. This time around, for a two week period, I could use my student ticket to travel anywhere in Germany for free.

And so, I chose Hamburg!

What can I say about the city? It felt really different from Berlin, in a good way. People are a lot friendlier in the north I think and the atmosphere was very different. It was a lot happier. Berlin is somehow very … angry. It’s very Eastern European in a way (and maybe my perception is skewed because I live in East Berlin). Everybody was dancing and enjoying the outdoors when I visited, even though the weather wasn’t that great.

Is there any city that holds sentimental value to you? Any place you’ve been longing to revisit and haven’t had the chance to? Let me know. 💕

As always, thank you for reading!

Rrita

Pool, Sun, Food & Fun

German cloudy weather has had me in dire need of some good sun. And while hanging out in Kosovo was all fun and good, going for a long weekend in Albania was even better. While I was home, my mom and I took a girl’s trip to Tirana for – as the title says – a weekend full of “pool, sun, food & fun”. Here’s my recollection of this super fun trip in four parts.

PART 1: GETTING THERE & BACK 🚌

Being two kweens in possession of not one, but two valid drivers licenses, with a combined driving experience of 0 years, we of course had to take the 5-hour bus to go there. Now, the way there was a typical Balkan bus ride: dusty & dirty, and my mom swore she would never do it again. The way back however was a 5-star business class bus experience with Sharr Travel. My mom swore she would never travel with anything else! 🌸

PART 2: THE STAY 🏖

Typically, one goes to Albania for the beaches, but we were in the mood for some urban touristing and Tirana is just perfect for that. We stayed at the Rogner Hotel, very central and with a great pool and an even greater breakfast buffet.

PART 3: DECONSTRUCTING A DAY ☀️

So, what did we do? Our day basically consisted of the following fun format (and then rinse and repeat for all the days we stayed):

7am: We’d wake up like the early birds that we are and get ready for the day. Of course this included putting our pool towels on the pool chairs first thing in the morning, to reserve ourselves the prime tanning spots.

8am: We’d head downstairs for the first part of our breakfast, coffee by the pool

8:30am: After drinking our first (but certainly not last) coffees of the day, we’d make our way to the breakfast buffet to make our pics. To my mom’s consistent disappointment, I would always opt for American-style pancakes. She thinks the only real pancakes are crepes. She’s wrong of course.

9:30am – 4:00pm: Post-breakfast, and already ready, we would move to the pool area and do a consistent cycle of hopping in and out of the pool to swim and tan all day. I would go so far as to say that I’ve never entered and exited a body of water more frequently in my life. Usually, I’m the “take-a-dip-once-and-if-my-swimsuit-dries-up-after-I’m-out-I-will-never-reenter-in-the-water-again” gal. Not this time though. In-between this time, we would grab lunch at the lobby, and / or grab drinks at the pool.

4:30pm: By mid-afternoon, we would make our way back to the hotel room to shower and freshen up. I would sneak in a game of Daily Killer Sudoku while my mom was getting ready. We’d be out and about by 5pm looking for our next dinner spot.

6:00pm: Aside from breakfast and pool time, dinner time was a highlight in and of itself too. We sort of made a plan at the start of the trip on where we would all eat. Dad gave us his recommendation too, which we tried the first day. We ate some really yummy food! In fact, I’m salivating just thinking of it!

7:00pm: Because we were on vacation, we’d usually go for a dessert spot somewhere afterwards too. This was particularly fun every time as well. More often than not, we paired this with a evening coffee. If you know my mom, you know she drinks Turkish coffee at 10pm before bed time, and still sleeps like a sheep. If I on the other hand have three coffees by 10am, I will stay up all night. But, caffeine sensitivity aside, it was worth it for the fun times 🙂

8:00pm: Somehow, after all that food, we felt the need to walk around and walk it off a bit. We’d usually end up going to the city park and doing a huge lap. The first time we did this, we actually got a bit lost and accidentally took a very long road. I would joke to my mom that we shouldn’t ask for directions to not show any signs of weakness, and we didn’t. We persevered and got on the other side.

10:00pm: By the evening, we would be back in our room and ready for bed. There was just one more thing left to do – and you betcha it was super important: watching Love is Blind: After the Altar. If you haven’t watched Love is Blind … uhm, go watch it and you’re welcome. We would end our evenings either watching that, or watching one of the many good movies that were on TV. Two movies I particularly liked: Ford vs. Ferrari, and Her Last Will. Both typical vacation movies: movies I would never watch on my own, but that I enjoy tying to a memory.

Jessica from Love is Blind redeeming her self. Go girl!

11:30pm: My mom would be sound asleep, and I would be scrolling on my phone one final bit to lull me to sleep. A bad habit I am trying to break.

PART 4: COMMENTARY 💕

I love this girls trip to Tirana with my mom! We didn’t stay long, but so many memorable things stand out to me, that make it feel like a lovely forever. From really soaking up the sun, to all the good food, to finding an old croissant place we had always wanted to visit in the past, to getting lost in the park and then accidentally seeing a small mouse (my mom hates mice!). It was a lovely time! Sure, I might or might not have gained a few pounds (👀) but hey, in hindsight, it was totally work it. 💕

Hope you’re enjoying your summer too! 🌻

Home Again + Pictures

Hi there. I’m officially done with my first semester of studies (no grades yet – I might do a post on those, once they start rolling in). One more assignment to submit mid-August and I can officially enjoy my summer off (+ working part time, but that’s pretty fun).

Since about two weeks now, I’ve been home in Kosovo. Not to get all economics-y again, but did you know that the Keynesian school of thought thinks aggregate demand (i.e. societal demand) sometimes needs government policy to stimulate it? Where am I going with this? Well, I always wondered whether this excused consumerism to some extend: you can only save the economy, if you keep buying (in a way). But seriously, where am I going with this, I hear you ask? Well, of all the things I frequently observe about Kosovo, one always strikes me as … interesting: we. love. to. spend. Spending on shopping; spending on coffee; spending on this, on that. Heck, there was even an urban legend that Zara broke all domestic sales records during the pandemic, because people. were. shopping!

Kosovo is very much considered a developing country, but do we spend like one? I’m not sure. Maybe all developing countries spend more; maybe they don’t. Point being, I think it’s a good sign. Sure, it’s not good to be consuming so much for the environment, but on the other side, I think spending on coffee and clothes says something about positive expectations. And, if I’ve learned anything this first semester, it’s that expectations really play a role in economics.

On this positive note, I hope we continue with our positive, forward-looking expectations. Here’s some pictures of Kosovo to adjust your expectations too:

Americanised suburb
Downtown
Party town
Lights + fun downtown
More lights + fun

A Lovely Evening Before My Exam

Here’s a bit of an impromptu write up that you weren’t expecting! 🙂

Tomorrow, I have my final sit-down exam for the semester (and then, only two more assignments to hand in before the end of the month). While this exam period felt oddly long, right now I’m blissfully enjoying a beautiful and calm summer evening. I’m writing this on my phone.

My inspo!

My window is wide open and fresh air is coming in. The air is cool and crisp. The wind is blowing occasionally and the leaves outside make this sound that almost sounds like I’m at the beach … really sends me back to childhood for some reason (maybe because there was less noise pollution then).

More mood

I’ve lit a candle and turned my lights off. Not for any particular reason, but the whole open window / lights on combo invites all sorts of bugs into my room. And then I tend to freak out! So, I’ve discovered, no lights = no bugs. The candle does add a lovely ambiance though. Who decided candles were over? (“Fire hazard” I can hear my dad typing).

Anyone who grew up in Kosovo knows the fun “mas luftes” times when we would get electricity shortages. Besides the annoyance that was missing my scheduled cartoons on TV, I think I look back on those times with at least some nostalgia (who doesn’t?). Like tonight, there’d be little noise, candles, and me and Jon would play Shtet-Qytet together, or whatever the crazy fad at the time was, until the electricity came back.

Another thing it reminds me of is summer with my grandparents in their house. It would also get very cool and quiet in the evenings, and I always liked to turn the lights off and gather us all up for a chat in the kitchen. Always had a thing for mood lighting and setting up a cozy environment for chats. The window would always be open. I remember because it was behind one of the sofas, and whoever sat there was always at risk of bumping his / her head on the frame.

I invite you to try turning your lights off one evening, and relying only on a candle, no TV, no other electronics. There’s something really soothing. And, a candle really does light up the whole room quite well. Then, also open your window wide and see how that feels. Then listen. Earlier, I could hear some calming music from one of my many unknown neighbors. Right now, I hear a baby crying. I’ve never seen this baby, but she lives on my floor and always cries around this time.

What a lovely evening!

Rrita

A Catch Up + Thoughts I’ve Had

Hi there again!

Once more, it’s been a good minute since I last wrote on here. It’s finals season, and as I’ve been complaining to my friends, something about the Bologna education system feels off to me: it feels like finals season has been going on for ages (and it won’t be ending at least until the end of the month either; grades will take even longer to show up). So, I’ve been studying and studying. And between all that studying, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking.

Here’s a randomised list of some recurring thoughts I’ve been meaning to share (and three unrelated Berlin pictures with mini questions I’ve been asking myself):

1. I love my family.

The closer I get to my travel date to Kosovo, the more I realise how excited I am to be home. I really love and miss my family. I’ve been reliving a lot of the happy memories we made together and I’ve been thinking a lot about how much of myself is actually a byproduct of them. Are we really individuals, or are we cocktails of the things we learn from and live through with our families?

Jenn Im in a recent video shared the positive and negative things she learned from her parents, which I found very inspirational. To keep with the positive theme of the blog, I’ve been reflecting on the positive things I’ve learned from them throughout the years as well – and it’s been a very joyous process: From my mom, I learned about kindness, unconditional love and sacrifice, as she always puts us first; From my dad, I learned about resilience, how to see an opportunity in every challenge, and how to trust that I can always achieve the things I set my mind to; From my brother, I learned about patience, bravery and how to be a reliable rock in other people’s lives. And from all of them together, I learned that there’s nothing a good joke can’t make better. I wouldn’t have it any other way 💕😭

Unrelated Berlin pic #1: Why is it called an underground if it goes overground?

2. I love my formative high school experience.

In one particular exam I had this season, I was startled to find some unexpected calculations as part of the assessment. Naturally, as any person (idiot) with a high school diploma would, I relied on my sweet but sturdy fundamental math skills to wiggle my way out of that pickle. Some of the teachers we had there, really left a permanent mark on me, including my math teachers! I’ve been thinking a lot of the foundations my high school gave me and about the many sayings they said to us during those years. While they maybe didn’t make so much sense then, they have still stuck with me and they make a lot of sense now.

One such foundational element was their focus on integrity being a part of everything we do. Another foundational element was again, this idea of sacrifice and building something from the ground up. Many of the teachers had left their comfortable lives in the United States to make the bare minimum teaching children in Kosovo (another YouTuber I follow, Beth LeManach recently shared a video of her beautiful garden; turns out it wasn’t beautiful when she bought it, but she slowly nurtured it into a beautiful lush space! It’s not what we are dealt with, it’s what we make of it!). Lastly, there was this quote that was hanging in our class rooms and that our gym teacher really talked to us at lengths about: Life is 5% what happens to you, and 95% your attitude to it. I’ve been thinking about that a lot. It’s so easy to feel “out of control” nowadays, but maybe sometimes it’s worth reminding ourselves that actually, 95% of it (our attitude) is in our control 🙂

Unrelated Berlin pic #2: Why are skies so beautiful?

3. The short – and the long – run

Ah the ultimate dichotomy in economics. I’m in that head space again where I don’t want to buy anything because I just think “what’s the point! I will move soon anyways and I can’t carry everything with me, wherever I go!”. And the more I reflect on this, the more I even think that life is so short, what’s the point in buying into (pun intended?) all this consumerism in the first place? Say, laser hair removal. It’s so costly, and so time consuming, by the time you’re done with it and can properly reap the benefits of it, you’ll be …. to quote Keynes … dead. Dreary, I know!

But in a less dreary sense, I guess what I mean to say is, life is short, so we should enjoy it! But not so much, so that it loses all meaning, because we won’t live forever. If that sounds contradicting, … what I mean to say is, maybe the point in our short life is to find something to live for that is larger than us – growth, progress, community… With the grand picture in mind, the small thing start to matter less 🙂

Unrelated Berlin pic #3: Why aren’t all houses covered in ivy?

What have you been thinking and over thinking about lately?

Let me know & hugs!

Rrita

Sunny Moments (aka: A Week in Pictures)

I’ve been enjoying a lot of sunny (& social) moments this week, so here’s me sharing them. Enjoy!

Picture 1: I’m taking all my study notes on Notion now. I know, such a cliche. Alongside with that, I ordered a flowery journal from an independent local shop here Amazon. Don’t judge me. I will say what this picture maybe isn’t: I think I’ve finally found my study method / rhythm of choice. This method seems to really be working … but let’s wait for exam season to judge.

Picture 2: Okay, I’m not studying all the time, but most of the time when I’m studying, you best believe I’m doing it outdoors in the sun, tanning. Women gotta multi task right? This is also the time when I’ll usually do calls with my family. My mom has been urging me to get sunscreen, and I’ve finally caved.

Picture 3: I changed up my nail polish (read: I’m very happy and its showing by these little acts of self care) and realised it looked great in the sun, together with my jewellery. I’ve been trying to be more mindful of my purchases lately; but girly things like this will always be my kryptonite.

Picture 4: The sun has really been paying some nice visits to my room, and the view has gotten greener and greener. I always open my window entirely now to let the fresh air come in (and yes, I cleaned those windows later!)

Picture 5: Ever since I went back home that weekend, my mom told me she’d teach me how to make my all time favourite dish: Kosovo potato stew. I got me some potatoes and spring onions, and have been having this very often now. What can I say, it is my favourite dish! To go along with it, I made a typical Balkan salad of tomatoes, spring onions and feta cheese, drizzled with plenty of olive oil and balsamic vinegar – and salted generously.

Picture 6: Berlin has been opening up, and we’ve had the chance to meet up with the other students more often. Here we are posing all cute during one of our latest picnics. I love these moments!

Picture 7: Different nail polish, same sun & coffee addiction. About two times a week I treat myself to some intensive double shots of espresso. My favourite time for this is usually very early, around 8am. Lately, I’ve been sitting outside and sipping my coffee there before I start my classes / work.

***

Rrita


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A Surprise Weekend Back Home

A few weeks back, we had a bit of a longer weekend in Berlin, and I seized the opportunity that sweet budget-friendly airlines offer (and the fact that Kosovo somehow finally achieved herd immunity) to sneak in a little visit to my parents. Absolutely worth it!

I didn’t get to see everyone, but I did get to have coffee with my mom and dad right away, which is the thing to do when you’re in Kosovo. I missed my brother for most of the time I was there, because he too was having his own travelling adventure (albeit, a bit cooler than mine, because he was in New York!), but we did manage to have a brief exchange right before I could fly back. 

First stop: coffee!

Home was sunny, it was warm, and it was buzzing with life – just like I remember it! I had coffee with my grandma and uncle, met up for pizza and more coffee with my boyfriend and friends – and all in all enjoyed a very sunny, very caffeinated weekend. 

☀️

I’ve been thinking a lot about my country during my studies, and I’ve been looking at a lot of the great progress we’ve been making in development indicators in the past how many years. Somehow, I always feel so hopeful and proud of home. We really do have so top notch qualities (for one, no one will ever let you pay; and only Albanians buy me things without me asking!*).

* case in point: At the airport, Rina bought me a water bottle, without me asking. She just knew I’d need water – very thoughtful! 💖

The weekend flew by, and soon enough I needed to head back. My flight got a little delayed in the end, so I could squeeze in some timely studying as well. All in all, I would really recommend this set up to my present and future self: cram all your studying during the week days, and enjoy your weekends without work.

Very productive study session – who knew you could cram this much, when there’s no distractions and nothing else to do?

As always, thank you for reading!

Rrita


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How Much I Spend on Groceries in A Week

You know I’ve done a few of these money diary posts in the past (see Exhibit Kosovo & Exhibit Germany), and they’ve really grown on me. Today, I’d like to walk you through my weekly grocery haul, if you will.

I watch a lot of these things on YouTube, and really enjoy them. In fact, I tend to most enjoy personal content like this. And what’s more personal than having you peek inside my grocery bag, right? Let’s do this.

Before we begin, I’ll tell you that while my fridge and pantry are tiny, I did have some things already on hand before the shopping spree. This included some basics like oil, butter, cherry tomatoes, condiments and spices, but also some more meal-y items like chicken, bread and ice cream. You know, the things a girl can’t live without. As the week (or weeks?) go on, I’ll combine these with my groceries to make my meals.

With that out of the way, let’s see what I got and how much it cost.

Where do I shop?

I’m doing my bulky weekly shopping at Lidl now, because it’s much more budget friendly. You’ll see just how much. Before, I used to do it at Rewe, which is more of a Trade Joes type of place (a fancier supermarket chain, if you will); but oftentimes, I’d go to Rewe for 3-4 things and end up accidentally paying 20 euros. Can’t have that on a student budget, nope.

What did I get?

Let’s go through all my items one by one. I’ll talk through my choice and the price. As you’ll see, I’m opting for a relatively high protein life, not too many carbs. But as you’ll also see, I do have me an irresistible sweet tooth. Life’s all about balance, in the end, isn’t it?

For the main food items, I got the following. First, I got two dozen eggs.

2 packs of six bio eggs (1.99 Euro per pack)

I eat eggs every day, and love them. Also, they’re very easy to make and very versatile. To go with my eggs, I picked up the following sides / toppings:

1 pack of baby spinach (1.49 Euro)
1 pack of rucola (0.99 Euro)
1 pack of mushrooms (1.79 Euro)
1 pack of green peppers (1.49 Euro)

I can throw in the spinach, rucola, mushrooms and green peppers into the omelettes, or I can toss the greens with the olive oil and cherry tomatoes I already have on hand for a cute lil’ salad moment. As a true Albanian, of course I needed peppers. I’d have ordinarily gone for the red ones, but the green ones were cheaper. And anyways, I got red ones last week, and a little variety hurt nobody.

3 packs of two breaded cod fish (2.99 per pack)

I love having some sort of (non-egg) animal protein for dinner, that isn’t beef or pork. This leaves me with fish or chicken to choose from. I’ve discovered this breaded frozen fish at the supermarket that I’m really enjoying. It’s very quick, and very filling. For dinner, I can throw in the fish, and toss another lil’ salad moment on the side.

Next, and as a segway segue into the desserts category, I got full fat milk.

2 packs of full fat milk (0.79 Euro per pack)

I don’t drink a lot of milk, but I have recently got these instant ice coffee packs that go splendidly with a glass of cold milk. All I do is just rip open a packet, and toss into into a glass of cold milk, and I have myself a nice little iced coffee for the day. While the milk is primarily for that, I could technically use it as a supplement to my breakfast too.

Next, for my desert-y bits, I got a big pack of blueberries.

1 large pack of Earth’s superior berries blueberries (5.55 Euro)

I love blueberries. If you know me, you know that about me. If I could be reborn as a fruit, it would be as a blueberry. At 5.55 Euros a pack, this was easily the splurge of my shopping. Worth every cent. I don’t know how exactly I’m gonna have them, but they’re so very delicious I can just eat them on their own as well.

I also got two packs of Mozart balls (Mozartkugeln in German). They usually cost an arm and a leg, but I got these non spherical shaped ones that came at 1.99 per pack. What a steal! I might or might not have already had one whilst writing this post. I’m thinking, I can use the iced coffee and a Mozartkugel as a nice morning pick me up.

2 packs of Mozartkugeln (1.99 Euro per pack)

Last but not least, I’ve been getting into cookies lately. They seem like a … let’s say, a more adult snack. I’m not saying chocolate chip cookies, no, those are for teens & kids. I’m talking about a refined plain cookie with a thin chocolate coating on one side. Now that’s adult! Jokes aside, I’ve tried these before and they’re delicious. But I also want to think they’re a bit more sophisticated of a sweet treat than a Mars / Snickers bar (and, honestly, way cheaper). What do you think?

2 packs of sophisticated adult chocolate cookies (0.79 Euro per pack)

How much did it cost?

All in all, the grand total was 31.40 Euros. Now I think that’s a great bargain! What do you think? Like I said, before I shopped at Lidl, I’d spend way too much on way too little. With the groceries I just described, my arm almost fell off carrying everything back to my place. In fact, there was barely enough space in my tiny fridge.

Total: 31.40 Euros

***

What did you think? What are your weekly groceries trips like? I think I got a good mix of foods and snacks for the week.

Hugs!

Rrita


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12 Hr Bremenly Adventure

I’ve been to many a city in Germany, but my favourite by far is always Bremen. Perhaps because I studied there as a teenager, perhaps because it really is charming – I don’t know. To me, nothing compares to it, not even bustling Berlin.

Being my favourite and all, you’d be surprised to find out that I haven’t actually been there since graduating university, some seven years ago. Well, that sort of changed this weekend. My boyfriend has been visiting me for the past couple of weeks, and last weekend, we decided to do something very spontaneous: we booked last minute tickets to go to Bremen for the day.

Can I just preface this whole thing by saying that I suddenly love the idea of travelling for day-trips by train? Trains are such an underrated (albeit, a little overpriced) mode of transportation. Our train was an inter-city express one, and we got from Berlin to Bremen in about 3 hours. But in-between those three hours, we enjoyed comfy seats, a dinning table between us where we could play board games during the trip, and WiFi and charging stations galore. The last two perks came particularly in handy as we were muscling through three seasons of Avatar: The Last Airbender within the week.

Comfy as can be!

Anyways, as always, I digress.

We made on our way to Bremen at 6am, and arrived there, punctually at 9. When we arrived, the Bremen Central Train Station, which once felt so big and intimidating, suddenly felt small. I know it wasn’t due to the fact that I’d grown taller, because in the years since graduation I’d also grown thinner (#freshman15). We immediately made our way to the Bremen suburbs, and 20 minutes later, we were in my old college town.

Despite having last been there 7 years ago, everything felt instantly familiar. I knew the way, I recognised the houses. The university felt a bit closer to the train station than I remembered (or, maybe now in Berlin I’m used to larger distances and everything in comparison feels close). The university itself was just as beautiful and pristine as it had been during my time. Really, I’d say it’s the most beautiful campus in continental Europe. As expected though, it was completely empty. Corona had left its impact there as well.

Prettiest campus ever 🌸

After this little visit down memory lane, we made our way back to the city. Again, everything felt familiar, and everything felt just a little different. It had been seven years of course. There seemed to be some new buildings, and it was definitely less lively than pre-COVID times, but Bremen was just as beautiful as it had always been. We did the main sights at Domsheide, the Rathaus, and the Bremen Town Musicians (I of course rubbed the lucky donkey’s feet for good luck).

Afterwards, we made our way to the most beautiful bit of Bremen (and Germany, in my opinion): the Schnoor Viertel! Schnoor I’d say is like Disney land in real life. It’s a tiny quarter of the city, full of tiny colourful houses that house shops with handmade goodies and homey cafes. Everything was closed, but the sun did peek out for a while to greet us while we were exploring.

Fairy tale Schnoor!

Following Schnoor, we went to the Viertel, which is Bremen’s hip area with bars and stuff. I never liked that bit. It felt very Berlin-y to me then, and felt very Berlin-y now. But, by now it was 12pm and we had accidentally already seen everything, so we were trying to stretch out time by doing other things too.

Viertel ⭐️

After lunch, and after another quick stroll by the riverside, we ended up getting some afternoon coffee and cake and sat in the pretty town center. There’s free WiFi there for university students, and my Berlin university credentials worked too! We got our headphones out, and watched some more Avatar while enjoying our cake.

Guess who got the giga slice? 🙋‍♀️

In the end, we made our way back by train, and enjoyed the journey just as much as the destination.

What a lovely adventure it was.

Rrita

***

Two thoughts we kept having whilst travelling during the pandemic:

  1. Do we wear masks? In Berlin, you only wear masks in public transportation and shops. When we arrived in Bremen, our silly touristy selves noticed that everybody was wearing masks in public, period. We were a bit unsure of the rules and couldn’t find a reliable source to confirm. In the end, we just did as the locals did.
  2. Where do we use the toilet? Everything is closed, and so are all toilets. We spent a good chunk of coins and steps hunting down public restrooms around Bremen just to relieve our bladders a bit.


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Living Al Fresco

Hello there! Long time no see! I’ve been MIA for a while but that’s because studies have kicked in full swing, and between classes, reading and socializing, there hasn’t been much time to brainstorm a concept for a new blog. Except now I have one!

Sunset watching at Temperhofer Feld

Before moving to Germany, I was a bit anxious about what “full lockdown” would look and feel like. In Kosovo, we didn’t have much of a lockdown, and reading on Germany’s take online makes it look like there’s absolutely no hope for any fun.

That’s not the case, as I discovered. Life is very much normal, and very much fun. The only difference is, I’m living life al fresco, if you will. All my socializing and eating out is actually spent out. And despite it being cooler than I’d like sometimes, it’s been working out surprisingly well.

Studying al fresco

I always thought that I’d be the type of person to really enjoy picnics and nature and just being around joyful chirping birds (a la Disney’s interpretation of Snow White, ofc). Well, now I know for a fact that that’s something I really enjoy.

Life has been surprisingly normal. And while I do feel for the cafes and restaurants that have had to limit their services, I feel like I am drinking and eating out just as much as I would on a regular basis (refer back to my expense tracker for some sweet evidence … that stuff adds up!).

Disney park

To summarize: heck, I love spending time outdoors! And Germany really allows me to do that in a very sweet way 💖

***

Rrita


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I Tracked my Expenses for a Week: Germany Edition

Remember that one time I tracked my expenses in Kosovo for a week, and whined about how expensive it was? Well, boy do I wish I could go back to those sweet .70 cent espresso days! Inspired by Refinery 29’s Money Diaries, here’s another week of me tracking my expenses. Except this time, it’s in Germany, and my groceries aren’t subsidized by my parents anymore.

I wasn’t as methodical with tracking my expenses this time around via a separate app, but rather, I am using my receipts, pictures, card transactions and the painful memories to remember everything I spent. Let’s relive the trauma together 💕

The Expense Diary 📝💸💰

Tuesday, March 23rd

7:20 am – This was the day I needed to travel halfway across the city for one and a half hours to get to my residence permit appointment. Of course, a stressful day like this would require some sustenance. Before making my way to the nearest train station, I stopped by the local bakery to get two small pastries as my breakfast. 3.45 Euro

8:00 am – By the time I was at the train station, I needed to get a ticket for my ride. A one way ticket costs pretty much the same no matter what distance you travel. Soon, I can get rid of this expense because I’ll have my student ticket that let’s me use public transportation for free! 3.00 Euro

11:00 am – I arrived very early to the residence permit location and had time to kill. Since nothing is open, I spend the extra time walking around the city and exploring the sights nearby. Eventually, and naturally, I grew a need to use the bathroom. This will cost you in Germany. I found a nice public bathroom and paid to use it. 1.00 Euro

12:15 pm – I went in for my residence permit application and had to pay a sweet fee. At least, like I said, it’s valid for three years. 100.00 Euro

12:30 pm – I made my way back home with another 1.5 hours of traveling. A one way ticket was bought. Gosh, I cannot wait for my student ticket. 3.00 Euro

3:00 pm ´- For the rest of the day, I was home and ate food from groceries I had bought earlier.

Daily Total: 110.45 Euro

Wednesday, March 24th

2:30 pm – Up until that point I had breakfast at home. Then, some friends and I made our way to the city again to meet up with another friend. Another train ticket. I’m sensing a pattern of spending here. 3 Euro

3:00 pm – In the city, we walked around doing some touristy things. We grew a bit thirsty, and were looking to sit outside for some sun. We got a beer each and another bottle of water from a probably overpriced tourist trap corner shop in the city center. 4.50 Euro

4:30 pm – Before making our way back, we decided we’d get something to eat as well. We stopped for our first bratwurst as students. Without complementary fries, because those were too expensive. 3.50 Euro

5:00 pm – Another trip back, another 3.00 Euro train ticket. 3.00 Euro

6:00 pm – On the way back, I stopped at the grocery store to get a few items that I could stick in my bag (no way I was getting more groceries without my reusable bag with me; that would mean paying for a plastic bag and we can’t have that in this economy). I got some phone credit for the next two months, two containers of pita bread to use as a vehicle for my protein intake, and five containers of sardines to keep in my pantry in case things spontaneously lock down. 29.92 Euro

Daily Total: 43.92 Euro

Thursday, March 25th

3:00 pm – Disgruntled by my spending so far, I had most of my meals at home with leftover groceries. By midday, I felt in a bit of a slump. I went outside to a park nearby with a friend and got a coffee and cake to go. 4.30 Euro

Daily Total: 4.30 Euro

Friday, March 26th

12:00 pm – I make my way to Templehof via train to meet up with a friend for lunch. By know you know, one train ride = 3 Euro. 3.00 Euro

12:30 pm – We grab lunch with my friend at this Korean BBQ place. We go for the cost-effective meal menu, where we get both a main dish and drink at a reduced price. Or so I think. 9.00 Euro

2:00 pm – You best believe I have to make my way back. Another train ticket. 3.00 Euro

4:00 pm – Once back, we meet up with more friends for a walk by a park and I grab another coffee to go. I think I spend way too much on coffee actually. 2.40 Euro

Daily Total: 17.40 Euro

Saturday, March 27th

10:00 am – I go to the city with friends again. Okay, this was a fun week to pick I guess, as I seem to have gone downtown a lot. Another one-way ticket. 3.00 Euro

12:00 pm – We walk around the city, battling sun and rain. We grow a little hungry and decide to go for a dürüm, or as we like to say in Albanian, döner. 6.00 Euro

2:00 pm – We make our way home. You know the drill. 3.00 Euro

5:00 pm – Dinner at home, duh, because I cannot be spending like this. I get my student ticket in the mail, finally and daydream about a life without these pesky 3 Euro spendings.

8:00 pm – We meet up at a friends for a fun Saturday night in of listening to music and chatting. Free

Daily Total: 12.00 Euro

Sunday, March 28

1:00 pm – We spend all day yesterday with program friends and a program guide at a new park. While it’s a bit far away, we decide against taking any form of public transportation, because we’re over the fees, and just walk for some 30 minutes to get there. There, we have a fun day of free fun visiting, hiking and understanding our upcoming study program.

4:00 pm – On our way back, we decide to get take out to enjoy outside as well. We stop by this Asian place we haven’t tried before. 8.50 Euro

Daily Total: 8.50 Euro

Monday, March 29th

12:00 pm – I have breakfast at home, but go for a coffee outside because I feel like I need it. Maybe I did, but not after writing up this blog post and recounting all my coffee expenses. Never drinking that stuff again, you best believe me. 2.40 Euro

7:30 pm – We meet with a bunch of new friends in a park and we agree we cannot show up empty handed. Socializing comes at a price, haha. I grab some beers for us. 4.29 Euro

Daily Total: 6.69 Euro

The Insights 👩‍🔬📊🧠

I spent a total of 203.26 Euro during the week (For comparison, the week I tracked my Expenses in Kosovo, I spent 133.02 Euro, approximately 35% less). If we substract my one-time residence permit fee expense of 100 Euro, we get to a weekly total of 103.26 Euro. Given that there are four weeks in a month, I have a feeling that’s still hella expensive.

Let’s break it down!

  1. I spent 20% of my expenses on eating and drinking out (41.62 Euro). In Kosovo, I only spent 10%. This included 30.45 Euro’s worth of eating out and another 11.2 Euro’s worth of coffees, cakes and water bottles. Yikes. Socializing hurts! 🥰👩🏻‍🤝‍👩🏻☕
  2. I spent 15% of my expenses on getting groceries (29.92 Euro). This is actually also surprisingly steep considering I spent most of my days eating out anyways. Guess I low key need to maybe like stop eating. Jokes aside – next month’s goal will be to limit eating out to once a week and eat more at home. 🥰🏡🛒
  3. Four of the seven days, I went to the city, which meant I spent 12% of my expenses on public transportation (24.00 Euro). This expense will just get eliminated in the following weeks when – like I said – I’ll get my semester ticket. 🚌💘
  4. Like in Kosovo, 50% of my week’s expenses were miscellaneous one-time expenses that might not recur (100.00 Euro for the three-year residence permit). However, if life has taught me anything, it’s that unexpected miscellaneous expenses sort of tend to happen all the time. I mean I’ve only done this expense tracking experiment twice in my life, and 50% miscellaneous expenses happened both times. 😫💔

Weekly Total: 203.26 Euro

Weekly Total without Residence Permit and Transportation Costs: 79.26 Euro

What do we think? I think I have quite some work to do, but I also do recognize that that particular week was quite jam packed with social activities. In the end, I had a lot lot lot of fun 🙂 Maybe that’s worth the occasional week of eating out too much and grabbing too much coffee. One thing’s for sure, I miss Prishtina’s coffee. ☕💖


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A Residence Permit Adventure

Last time we heard from each other, and I updated you on my relocation progress, I told you how I had completed 1/4 items on my major to do list. This week, I’m happy to report, I’m all done!

  1. Anmeldung
    Finished that last week! Surprisingly, they had a record of my other time in Germany almost ten years ago
  2. Bank account
    This one was done first.
  3. Health insurance
    About three phone calls and four emails later, I got a confirmation of my health insurance within 24 hours, which meant I could move on to the next big ticket item.

The Residence Permit

Residence permit applications seem to be notorious in Berlin because you can never find appointments. Try it for yourself if you like. I’d been trying to book myself an appointment since January but without luck! I had surrendered to the idea of having to email the Foreigners Office before my visa expires to beg for some consideration, when lo and behold, my boyfriend saved the day and got me an appointment! Amazing!

My appointment was booked for less than a week in advance, which meant I had to rush and finish up everything else I needed (see above, Health Insurance). In the end I got everything I needed in my little folder and was ready to make my way to the Foreigner’s Office. The night before my big appointment, I checked what public transportation route to use. To my ** shock **, the Foreigner’s Office was about 1.5 hours away from where I lived. Yes, you can travel 1.5 hours within Berlin and still be in Berlin. So, whilst my appointment was at 12 noon, I set my alarm for 7am in the morning the next day.

Come 7am the next day, I got dressed with the warmest clothes I had, packed my backpack with all the possible documents I could need and by 7:30 I was out of the house. I stopped by the supermarket to get two pastries for the road. With COVID and everything I knew I couldn’t eat on the trains, so I ate them on my way to the nearest station.

Wrong station first … walking to the next one at 8am!

About 10 minutes of walking later, I arrive at a station only to be confused. This wasn’t the one I needed – I had made my first mistake. Ugh, would I make it on time? (Yes, it was after all only 8am by then and I had four more hours to spare). Disgruntled, I figured the next (& correct) station was about 10 more minutes of walking and so I walked on.

Waiting for my first train at the ** correct ** station

Once on this train, my route would be, sit here for about 40 minutes to the other side of the city, then walk to the closest subway and take that to my final destination. Here, I took a seat and just enjoyed a long ride through Berlin. It was a good opportunity to understand all the different stops this particular line went through as well, as it was also crossing the city center.

After the 40 minutes, I hopped off the train, now on the complete other side of the city, and hopped on my first subway ride of this time in Berlin. The subway is weird and I don’t like it, but what choice did I have?

Subway station … cute tiled design!

Once done with the subway ride, I was finally there! I had arrived at the Foreigner’s Office, and my appointment was at 12. What time did I arrive there you ask? When I checked the clock, it was 9:20 am. Yikes … I had over-planned and had now some three hours to kill.

It was all nice and well, because the Foreigner’s Office was in a cute area I’d never been in before and it had a beautiful castle and garden. Of course, for the time being it was closed, but I could walk around and take pictures and let time pass.

Schloss Charlottenburg – touristing a bit before my appointment!

Eventually, the cold got to me and I even managed to find a public toilet. For 50 cents, I entered this stand alone sound-proof toilet-cube thing and found some sweet release. Of course the thought of getting stuck inside and missing my appointment briefly crossed my mind. To my relief, the cube doors opened again and I could exit and make it back in time!

More Charlottenburg!

By 11:30 I joined the other students and ausländer waiting in line. I even managed to help a student who couldn’t speak German communicate with thr guards by serving as a translator! By 11:45 they let us in for our appointments and we walked up three flights of stairs. I mention this, because combined with the mask, I was really out of breath by the end. In the end, I went to my appointment and the lady was very nice! She asked for my documents one by one, and in the end told me I’d get a residence permit for three years – much longer than I’d expected!

A legal kween by that point, I made my way back for my 1.5 hour journey home, but this time around much more relaxed 🙂 Three weeks in (two, if you don’t count my week in quarantine), I finished with all my relocation tasks. Berlin can now start feeling like home!

***

Speaking of feeling like home, a lot of other students already moved here too, and I’ve made some great friends already! Life’s been very fun! 🙂

Rrita


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First Official Week in Berlin (Post-Quarantine!)

Last week, I went to do my mandatory get-out-of-quarantine COVID test in Berlin, and I have officially been deemed COVID free since. That means, this week, I was as free of a bird as I could be! So, I tried to make the most of it!

Here’s four cute adventure-highlights from my first week out of quarantine:

River Side Walks

My first meet up after coming out of quarantine, was with my dear friend Ornela for what I like to think as my daily mandatory dose of walking. Eversince being “free”, I’ve been out on walks everyday. When I can, joined by another person, and when I can’t also exploring on my own. Meeting up with Ornela was super fun, because we got to go to this river side promenade (Berlin’s version of sheshi, if you will) and just walk around for some 20 kilometers. This was super refreshing, and looked like a real dose of normality. There were street vendors by the river, and lots of people taking walks and grabbing food to go. A beautiful way to explore the city!

River side fun!

Communist Parks

After that first trip, I went on a second day-trip with my friend Fatjon to visit a communist park in the same area. This was also all outdoors and in line with regulations. The park was full of soviet war memorial features that was apparently big during East Germany’s time. There were lots of people walking around there too. A lot of the imagery was very similar to communist imagery in Albania, I felt like (full of macho men and macho women). There was also a lot of writing in Russian. While I didn’t understand anything, I did try my best to at least recognize the letters (more on my language learning in a later blog post!).

Communist park moment!

Perputhen Prime

Of course the highlight, as I hinted in my last post, was going to my friend Jonida’s for our first evening of watching Perputhen Prime together. It was such a pleasant surprise to discover that we both are avid Perputhen fans. It was all fun poking fun at Lediana’s supposed muscle strength and just enjoying it. She made me a nice dinner, and I got to swoon over how beautifully decorated her new apartment is!

Priorities! Never miss an episode of Perputhen!

Exploring The Surroundings, Supermarkets & Train Connections

With lockdown still in swing, there’s not much to do except for go on walks like I said earlier. Because I’m insistent on going for walks at least once every day, I’ve resorted to using this time to get to know the supermarkets in my surrounding area, and the different possible train connections as well. Walking to go to these places is fun because I get to hear birds chirping. Now cute, right?

Cute duckies! 🦆

***

As for an update on my to do list from before, things are looking a lot better from last week! 🙂 I got to jump a few hoops, haha. Here’s my progress report:

  1. Anmeldung:
    This one I will do early next week, as that’s the earliest appointment I could get. I’ve got all necessary paperwork sorted though, so yay.
  2. Bank account:
    This one is done! I changed strategies this week as I realized there are bank options out there that can be done without the Anmeldung, so yay. Now I have a bank account!
  3. Health insurance:
    This one is also almost completely done. I just need to get the Anmeldung done too, so I can upload it. But I have registered for health insurance, and I also have a bank account to pay it.

Next step after all this:

4. Get a residence permit appointment. This one seems extra impossible. Let’s see, and wish me luck!

What’s your experience with bureaucracy? Do you love it or loathe it? I think I’m starting to appreciate it.

Rrita


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My First Week (Quarantine-ing) in Berlin

This Monday, I moved to Berlin. After what felt like a very long journey through the night, with a stopover in Vienna and two plane rides of me trying to nap with a mask on at all times (it’s impossible, FYI!), I finally made it. ✈️🇩🇪

A deceivingly empty airport. Both flights were full! Apparently people are still traveling during the pandemic.

What’s it like in Berlin? Well, I honestly don’t know yet. I’ve been quarantined since my arrival and have only spent time in my dorm (@ Bundespolizei, if you’re reading! 👀). I was anxious about this in the beginning, but as the days went by, every day became easier and easier, and as I’m writing this, it feels like time flew!

My view these days!

I made an effort to structure my days and always wake up early, and go to sleep early, and I’d spent the majority of my time, either planning for the upcoming weeks full of administrative relocation tasks, or video chatting with family and loved ones at home! Oh, and of course, in between planning for administrative tasks, I’d religiously watch Perputhen. In fact, I have my first Perputhen Prime watch party scheduled soon with my dear friend Jonida!

I also took the time to rearrange the furniture in my room and put up my cute bedsheets from home, so that the dorm could start feeling more like home! In the beginning, I didn’t like it much because it wasn’t as good as my bougie dorm from my bachelors, but after my mom jokingly told me that I’m channeling “Robert Berisha live në karantinë / konvikt”, I started laughing and took it all with a grain of salt!

Among the most surreal moments this week was accidentally discovering that there was also an old acquaintance from high school in the same dorm! I mean what are the odds? I discovered this whilst looking through the mail boxes for a lost package.

All in all, a pleasant week, but I’m even more excited for the weeks to come where I can actually get to scratching things off of my to do list. For now, that looks like:

  1. Anmeldung first!
  2. Bank account second, and
  3. Health insurance third.

Bureaucracy is annoying, but I’m looking forward to when I finish. In the meantime, I’m living through Berlin memes:

Let’s see in a year!

How’s your week been?

Rrita


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Perputhen & Rooting for the Underdog

If you’re Albanian, then you must know and love “Perputhen”. It’s the new show to watch on Albanian TV. Featuring a group of young boys and girls, Perputhen is a reality show that has contestants go on dates with one another, whist commentator Arian Konomi offers insight and breaks down common romantic stereotypes and pitfalls in Albanian dating culture. Did I already say that I love it?

But why, I hear you ask? Honestly, I don’t know. Maybe I love it for the same unknown reasons all 1 million other Albanians love it (the show gets over 1 million views on YouTube on every. daily. episode! And that’s just on YouTube!). Maybe I love it for the same reason that people love the Bachelor / Bachelorette series. I couldn’t tell you!

A part of me thinks I love it because, ever since watching “Indian Match Making” on Netflix, I’ve had this secret wish to enter into the match-making business. And while I’ve tried my luck here and there, I think I tend to get overly excited and scare my clients away, boys and girls. Nonetheless, I digress.

One thing I’ve noticed while watching it, is that I have a pattern of always rooting for the under-dog (and I don’t think I’m the only one). I told my boyfriend once that even when I was a young girl, I would always say that Buttercup was my favorite PowerPuff Girl just because I knew she probably was nobody’s favorite. Seriously, she was this odd green color and had short hair and a boyish personality. I’ll bet you nobody preferred Buttercup over Blossom and Bubbles. I always felt bad for her (an inanimate cartoon, yes) and so, I falsely claimed her as my favorite, so she would feel less bad.

See the source image
Bubbles, Blossom and …. my “favorite” Buttercup

This tangent connects back to Perputhen because even there, I’m stuck rooting for the underdog. I’m rooting for Antonela and Mevlan at the moment. I like Antonela, because she’s just so damn funny, and the recent backstory she shared of her growing up, had me in tears! It’s not a quality that men necessarily look for in a girl, but I think her sense of humor brings a lot of lightness to the otherwise dramatic show.

I like the show because, like I said, it’s fun. The contestants are Albanians from all over: Albanian, Kosovo, Macedonia and even Italy and Germany! You get to see stereotypes come to life and get shattered in the same episode. You get to see how we’re all just the very same: insecure, impulsive and very capable to forgive and forget. Now isn’t that beautiful?

I’ve made it a routine where I watch it with my mom every night, and lately, even my dad has been joining in on the fun. Every night I also text my friend Jonida for a post-Perputhen debrief with her. She’s also a fan!

Have you seen “Perputhen”? Are you also a fan? Let me know!

Rrita


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5 Things I’m Excited For (Moving Series)

As you already know, I’m looking to move to Germany very soon. It’s been almost ten years since I last was a ‘student resident’ there, and no doubt things will be very different for me this second time around.

Sailor Moon being me, in grad school

For one, now:

  • I’m much more hard working 👑📃 Seriously, give me a to-do list, and I will do it right away. When I was a student last time, sure I thought I was hard working, and I got good grades and all, but I was also quite the procrastinator (as everyone is when they’re young, I assume). Because I’ve been working full time for so long, I’ve built up some legit stamina in staying focused and, well, not napping haha. This should only help me out!
  • I already have friends in the city. 👑👩🏼‍🤝‍👩🏼 Again, last time around, when I moved to Germany at the ripe age of 18, I didn’t know anyone. I spent a lot of energy creating some great friendships, that have stood the test of time. This time around, I can’t wait to meet them! It will be a much smoother experience.

As I prepare for my academic adventure, I thought a bit about the things I most look forward to. And as any type-A person would do, I thought I’d make a list of these five very irrelevant things that have me very excited. Again, you could say none of these things are anything special. But for some reason, these are the things I think of all the time:

  1. Structured note taking. 📓 I’m looking forward to take some jaw-dropping notes for all my classes. Heck, I’m even contemplating posting some more economics-related content on the blog, as I re-enter academia. Maybe even ‘how to take notes’ or ‘how to study’ content. Who knows!
  2. Grocery shopping. 🍓 You’ve read my what-I-spend-in-a-week post. I do most of my grocery shopping and meal planning with my family. I’m genuinely excited to have the chance to plan (& budget!) for my weekly meals on my own. I’m thinking, it’ll include all the YouTuber staples in my weekly grocery shopping, like berries, avocados and [insert newest food trend here]. Maybe even some recipes for the blog!
  3. Scheduling.📅 I love scheduling! I’m looking forward to scheduling all my classes, meals, social activities and study time. Perhaps, I’ll even make time for a part time job or something. In the past, I loved getting a yearly agenda and just jotting down all my thoughts there. This year I might just migrate full digital and use Notion. I know, counterintuitive to my blog’s goal of unplugging.
  4. Sitting in parks.🌳 I don’t do that too much in Kosovo, mostly because there’s not too many nice parks, and the few ones that are close are usually filled with cat-calling creepos. I hope that won’t be the case in Germany, but I have a feeling it’ll be a much more serene setting than the one I’m used to.
  5. Ordering online.🛍 Did I tell you Kosovo is Narnia? Nobody delivers here, except for Asos, and – to quote myself – that costs an arm and a leg in import taxes. I actually already have my Amazon wish list ready with a couple of items I can’t wait to get. Nothing major, just this one hair styling tool I saw on YouTube, and (and this seems impossible to get my hands on!) perhaps the Sailor Moon Color Pop collection.

What irrelevant thing were you most excited for when you last experienced a change like moving or going back to school? Let me know – and thank you for reading!

Rrita


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Moving During a Pandemic

I can’t believe I’m writing this, not because it’s something particularly unbelievable, but because it still hasn’t sunk in yet. At the end of the month, or by early next month, I’ll be moving to Germany for school, after what seems like a very very long time.

Sailor Moon taking a bus ride to Germany, probably.

What does this feel like? I have mixed feelings at the moment. I’m incredibly excited to be back in school, I’m excited to be taking a year off of work to just focus on academia and I’m excited for the adventure and new opportunities; however, given the current world situation, traveling internationally during this particular time feels quite unpredictable. And perhaps, that’s also why I feel like it hasn’t sunk in yet.

Germany – like most European countries – currently is under lockdown, and I have to regularly keep up with any and all updates that can and do impact my traveling. In fact, family and friends are also always kind enough to let me know when they read about anything that’s changing in terms of travel regulations.

It’s definitely a very interesting time to decide to go back to school and move internationally, but it also definitely has it’s upsides. For one, I can look forward to focusing exclusively on studying, without the #FOMO of going out and meeting up with friends getting in the way. Another reason I’m super excited to move to Germany, is because I’m legitimately thinking of getting a bike (my mom and dad are probably chuckling reading this!). Silly, I know, but sometimes it’s the small things that get us excited.

The visa process was nice and simple, although I think I got very lucky in this regard. From what I gathered online, a lot of embassies around the world weren’t even open or weren’t even issuing appointments, due to COVID-19. Not the case in Kosovo! Once I submitted all my documents, I got mine in a week’s time. Much more efficient than I expected. I feel for the students around the world dealing with visa hassles during these times.

For now, the rule is that once I arrive in Germany, I’ll have to self quarantine for 10 days. I’m hoping this changes or eases, but even if not, I guess I look forward to what 10 days staying completely isolated at home and alone will look like. I’m not even sure how I would go about getting groceries. But that’s for another blog post to explore. Perhaps I’ll do a daily recap of my “days in quarantine” for this blog. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

Stay tuned for a lot of my German adventures to come! Will be updating everyone on how school, life, and everything goes.

Hugs – and thank you for reading!

Rrita


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