Christmas Eve Korean Cooking Workshop With Yurim (@eatme_berlin)

21st December 2020 in Food & Drink

Well 2020 is coming to a close (phew) and Berlin is full of expats for a change, as many are opting to stay home rather than risk getting stuck with their families for more than 4 days. If you’re holed up in your apartment for the holidays and want some alternative entertainment from creating some kind of terrible night club in your living room (fetishwear zoom party with bluetooth speaker – say no more), then why not make a Christmas Eve 4 Course Korean Dinner joining chef Yurim from @eatme_berlin catering.

After landing flat on her face in Berlin in 2012, Yurim started her catering business taking her from financial broke to just physically broken. After the years of blood, sweat and kimchi pancakes, she’s has grown into one of Berlin’s top Korean caterers, servicing events for designer studios, weddings, and private events.

During lockdown she launched her Youtube channel “Have A Cook Day” on which she shares home cooking tutorials making classic dishes, streetfood and general mukbang madness.

When’s the workshop?

Errrrm…. Christmas Eve. That’s the 24th December at 15:00.

What’s the plan?

Yurim will guide you step by step through the preparation of 4 courses of Korean food via a video live stream. You will have the chance to ask questions as you go. You’ll get a list of ingredients before and Yurim can help you find everything near your home.

What’s on the menu?

The menu is based on the @eatme_berlin Christmas catering menu which she normally delivers to holiday clients. It’s a four course Korean inspired festive menu. Here’s what you will be preparing.

Course 1: Parsnip and celeriac cream miso soup 

Course 2: Rocket, spinach and apple salad with candied walnut and apple sesame dressing

Course 3: Sweet gochujang glazed roasted chicken leg with burnt spring onion

Course 4: Matcha tiramisu with red bean paste

Wow, noms! Where do I sign up?

To register to a limited spot on the class, just write a DM to Yurim via the @eatme_berlin Instagram page, or send an email to eatme.berlin@gmail.com.

Also followers of our blog get a 20% discount on the workshop price if they use the super secret discount code: WONDERLAND when you sign up.

Meet the expats: Writer, speaker & empowerment coach Jenn Choi

9th November 2020 in Interviews
Writing, coaching and public speaking, Jenn inspires others by sharing her personal journey through life and work.

Jenn M Choi is a happy Berlin expat who is passionate about creating impact at scale. As a Writer, Speaker, and Content Creator she tells inspirational personal stories and shares practical life + work lessons to empower people. As an Empowerment Coach, she empowers real humans to make BIG ASS changes and design the life + work they dream of.

She’s also the Founder of a marketing communications consultancy. Her big dream is to finish writing a memoir on her journey of self-love through the grief of losing both parents. Originally from San Francisco, she’s now cozily settled in Berlin. You can find her online at jennmchoi.com and connect on social media @jennmchoi.

What made you uproot yourself and move to Berlin?

I totally fell head over heels in love with Berlin the first time I visited in 2014. The creativity, the freedom of authentic expression, the f*cking incredible music, the slower pace of life in Europe. It became one of my dreams to live here, even if for a short while. I loved it so much I visited six times before finally moving here. 

When my mom died from cancer in 2017, I was heartbroken. I also lost my dad in 2010, so life in my hometown of San Francisco without my parents didn’t feel the same. I was ready to start a new chapter of my life in Berlin. Now I’m almost three years in and hope to stay for much longer.

How did you find the relocation process?

I moved here alone on a cold November day with only two suitcases and nothing else. I had to build everything from the ground up all over again. Thankfully I had a few good friends here who were a huge help, but the first few months were very difficult. 

I had no flat, no visa, and no real plan. I first lived with a friend for a few weeks, and then moved to a temporary flat for another few months. In the meanwhile, I had to figure out how to stay here legally. Getting a visa was incredibly stressful, which is why I was so happy to find Expats in Wonderland. Ina totally saved me! Getting my visa approved for two years was one of the best feelings in the world! Later on, Ina and team also helped me get my next two flats, including the dream home we are currently living in now.

Which neighbourhood have you chosen to live in and why? Did you consider other areas?

Beautiful historic Prenzlauer Berg. I love it here because I’m a bit obsessed with the green tree-lined streets flanked with Altbaus. Also, we have a lot of friends and nice neighbors around us. Community and human connection are vital to me. The neighborhood is very chill, yet has enough going on in terms of restaurants, cafes, and bars. 

Some people make fun of Pberg because it’s less “cool” than it used to be and full of baby strollers. But after a life of crazy partying since I was 15 years old, I think I’m ok with slowing down now and hopefully building a family soon. I still plan to have loads of fun of course, but in a different way. 

Why did you choose your particular apartment?  What features/factors were most important to you when choosing a place to live?

My partner and I are blessed to call this light-filled Altbau our home. There are windows on both sides of the flat so we get tons of light in the morning and in the afternoon. This was a huge requirement for me since I work from home and light fills my soul.

We also love the high ceilings with intricate stucco patterns. It feels like we’ve traveled back in time to the early 1900s, yet it’s been renovated so it’s still modern. We also have the shiniest floors in Berlin haha. A friend once told us, “Wow, your floors are so shiny I could eat off them!” Other than that, the location, proximity to parks and public transportation, and spacious size were important to us.

What approach have you taken to making your living space your own? 

My mom loved antiques and second hand items so I definitely wanted to carry her legacy on.

We combed flea markets all over Berlin in order to find vintage chandeliers and other pieces to mix in with our modern furniture. I also have two of her art sketches by our bed.

My partner’s Danish and has excellent taste in design (seriously it’s in their Scandinavian genes) so some rooms have mid-century vibes full of hygge. He got some great furniture from Exil Wohnen. 

The kitchen is very special to me because creating it was a true adventure. It was completely empty when we moved in, which as a foreigner is a shock. There was no sink, no stove, no drawers, no fridge, no lights. Nothing. Though it was incredibly stressful to design and build a kitchen, it was an exciting challenge with many trips to IKEA. Now I get to say that we did it! And as my dad did, I love to cook. For me, the kitchen is the heart of the home. 

Have you relocated your business to Berlin along with yourselves?

Yes, I feel fortunate that I was already working online prior to moving to Berlin. I already had corporate, startup, and private clients from different parts of the world, so the business relocation was fairly smooth. For years I had already built a global network as a digital nomad, so Berlin is a great base. I find it to be a really international city and as I’ve integrated more into the German culture and system I’ve also gained German clients as well. 

My life here is much more balanced. Back in the US I felt like I was in a rat race hustle culture, especially in Silicon Valley. It was always go go go and more more more! Now I’m taking the time to slow down and focus on my health and overall well-being. 

Do you ever get homesick for your home country?  What things do you miss the most? Are there things you do or places you go when you need a taste of home?

In some ways I do because I miss my brother and friends. I also miss the excellent customer service, authentic Asian and Mexican food, and Spicy Hot Flamin’ Cheetos (my favorite snack!) However, I do not miss the political climate in the US and the heartbreaking homelessness in SF. 

When I need a taste of home, I either find the ingredients to cook meals I miss myself, or hunt for restaurants that remind me of home. Food= comfort for me. I’m a huge foodie and eat more than people twice my weight.

What do you think are the best things about living in Berlin?

Ah, so many things! I enjoy the pace of life and endless exploration. Each neighborhood is like its own town. Mostly quiet but when you want to go out the whole night and dance til dawn there are plenty of options. Seriously the nightlife is delightfully insane. (Well, except for during the pandemic.) I also feel like there’s something for everyone, and it’s multi cultural. There’s history, there’s culture, there’s art, there are tons of parks. And there’s beauty in the breakdown…of old abandoned buildings adorned with street art. 

I savor the quality of life here. Though living costs are rising quickly, you still get a good deal when compared to other major cities. I also feel much safer here in terms of less crime. And overall, my spirit feels more free here. Like I can finally be myself. Without judgment.

How have you integrated into the city? Have you learnt German? Did you make local friends or mostly expats?

When I first moved to Berlin, I didn’t speak German, which was frustrating. After I learned some German at a language school, life became ten times better. For me, learning enough of the language to speak to people was critical. Now I feel more integrated and appreciative of Germany as a whole. This country has accepted me as an immigrant. The least I can do is respect and honor that by learning the language and hopefully contributing in some way to the community.

I’m grateful that I have both local German and expat friends, which are like an extension of my family. In one close friends circle, we have a Whatsapp group with over 30 people, majority of which are Germans. And then of course I have pockets of expat friends from the US and many other different countries. Diversity in culture and thought are both important to me. 

Do you have any specific plans which you would like to accomplish while living here, or just enjoy the lifestyle and spoils of the city?

Hell yeah I have plans! 🙂 I’d like to publish my memoir. It’s a slow painful process to go through the trauma of grief again and again through writing it, but I hope it will help lots of readers one day when it’s out on bookshelves. We’d also like to start a family here and hopefully by that time I will have learned even more German to navigate through daily life.

What are your favourite places in and around Berlin to…

Eat…

Cat Tuong (delicious vegan Vietnamese), Genazvale (Georgian), Aroma (for dim sum that reminds of home), Seaside or Fishklub (both have super fresh seafood), Night Kitchen (modern Israeli), Tinman (brunch), the KaDeWe food court.

Drink…

Wohnzimmer (one of the few smoke-free bars), Ora (gorgeous interior), taking a bottle of Riesling or Grauburgunder to any park and sitting in the sun with friends

Shop…

DSTM (stylish bodywear), Broke + Schön, Mauerpark Flea Market (lots of independent sellers), &Other Stories, handmade earrings by Berlin designers: Maskarades, or Zoe Tan Studio

Unwind…

Walking along the Spree from Berliner Dom to Tiergarten (such a pretty walk!), Vabali spa, running in Volkspark Friedrichshain

Explore…

Pick any neighborhood and simply wander around to find the extraordinary in the ordinary. You can find a lot of hidden gems and corners that way. Not enough people get out of their kiez to explore and Berlin has tons to offer. I’m also a huge fan of hiking around the lakes in and around the city. Bernsteinsee is magical.

What advice would you give to other expats thinking to move to the city?

Just do it! If you have a calling to move here try it out and come with an open mind and heart. Mindset matters a lot. Don’t let the complainers get to you. For every negative person you can find many positive people.  What you experience in Berlin will be a reflection of how you are deep inside and your attitude. Your identity might even change, but that’s the beauty of Berlin. It can change you, and hopefully be a playground for you to find out who you really are. Want more tips? I wrote an entire article with “10 Lessons I Learned Moving to Berlin” here.

Supporting your local businesses in COVID-19

11th May 2020 in Food & Drink, Guide, Health & Fitness
Small businesses in your neighbourhood are struggling to survive.

As the lockdown laws slowly are relaxed, the aftershocks are still being felt by independent businesses across Berlin.  To stoke some of the entrepreneurial spirit normally keeping our local kiez buzzing (and our bellies and livers hard at work), we decided to treat our relocation manager Emi to a day of delights using COVID-19 replacement services.

Here’s her diary of the day.

Start your day with a fresh pressed juice from BTTR (8:45am)

As I was still laying in bed sipping on my morning coffee the doorbell rang. My first delivery was here! I was delighted it was fresh juices, shots and “Mylk” from Kreuzberg based store BTTR.

Fresh pressed juices and shots from BTTR

BTTR has become a bit of an obsession of mine during this lockdown. Their cold pressed juices and various Mylk’s are created with a biohacking mentality, drawing as much from the latest science from Californian nutritionists as ancient Eastern medicine.

But could the whole day be just about fitness and health?

Cruelty free haircare products from wallacewallace (9:30am)

Cleansed and alert from juices, I sprang to action like a lightning bolt as the doorbell rang again. I opened the door dazzling the bike courier with a glittering smile that he was obviously unprepared for at this time in the morning.  He responded by solemnly handing me an old rolled up paper Edeka bag.

Cruelty free hair products from wallacewallace

I was pleasantly surprised when I opened up the bag to find amazing cruelty free Kevin Murphy hair products. There is only one hairdresser that sells these products and that is wallacewallace.

Seconds later my phone rang and it was a facetime call from the salon’s founder Justin, who declared that he was going to guide me on a home hair treatment journey. After a brief exchange of affirmations on each other’s inner and outer beauty, he guided me on how to treat my hair at home and gave me a few tips and tricks I could do at home.

Justin gives me a tutorial on properly treating my hair.

I am not sure if it was Justin who felt my desperation or if Ina had seen the need for some tender loving care for my hair but this came like a gift from heaven.  Of course I finished up looking like Princess Angel, and proceeded to vogue around my apartment.  The dog looked somewhat concerned.

Stay safe with a locally made facemask from Katies Blue Cat Cafe (11:00)

I was given the task of sourcing a face mask which during this pandemic is not easy as they seem to sell out everywhere. I was already thinking about making one myself, and had seen someone ensemble one from an old bra and figured this may be my last resource.

While I was panicking about the thought of wearing a bra on my face, I popped out to grab a coffee, and there it was, a face mask!

Katies Blue Cat cafe is selling waterproof face masks.

Katies Blue Cat cafe does not only sell delicious cakes and coffee but also cotton face masks. Plus they are running a delivery service for their wonderful cookies and shortbreads. Suddenly this task involved coffee and cookies and became much more appealing.

DIY boozy brunch from Geist im Glass (13:00)

All that looking and feeling good was making me hungry.  Time for another delivery! It was brunch time from Lenaustraße based bar/restaurant Geist im Glass.

Sampler brunch from Geist Im Glas

I got a nice sampler brunch of all their favourites and what seemed to be a bottomless bloody mary.  The preparation really couldn’t have been better.  As the hard work is all done for you and neatly packaged, so that your feast just needs to be heated up and decanted, giving both the satisfaction of eating and false pride of having prepared the meal.

Their bloody mary bladder is generous to say the least.

I took my sweet time scoffing all the samplers and squeezed the final drops from the bottom of the bloody mary bucket.

Oh gosh I’m still drunk and it’s time for Hotpod Yoga (18:20)

As I was still trying to recover from my afternoon bloody mary buzz, my email notification went off and it was time for a yoga class from the lovely ladies from Hotpod. Before the lockdown, I would attend hotpod once or twice a week, as I found it a good way not only to sweat out my weekends sins of over indulging, but the soothing beats in a warm sweaty pod somehow gave me a shot of nostalgia for my raving days. 

Yoga a la Zoom.

The class was conducted over zoom and they sent you a playlist to listen to during the class. I did catch myself a few times moving along to the music more than the class. This may have still been the bloody mary’s in my system, and I definitely did doze off for a while during the savasana.

Yoga is more fun with a friend.

Wine for dinner? (19:45)

I had not even had time to peel myself off my yoga mat until it was time for the next task ! Here I was thinking it must be food but it was the next best thing – Wine. And not just any wine, but some of my favourite wines from Palsta, my favourite little Scandinavian hideout in Schillerkiez. 

Update: Very sadly since writing this article Palsta has decided to close its doors permanently.. Viivi and her team had built a beautiful concept of scandinavian food and some of the best natural wines. Despite being one of the most loved small restaurants in Berlin, it goes to show how serious the struggles faced particularly by bricks and mortar businesses are right now. This again shows the importance of us supporting small local businesses during this crisis in any way possible. 

https://www.instagram.com/p/B_zVQWoqg_i/

I had to obviously ‘taste’ the wines, it would only have been rude not to. But for this I needed some entertainment. I knew my friends Kenneth Scott & Noah Pred were doing a live stream dj set from home, so there was my entertainment sorted.

Wines from Palsta and living room DJ set live with Kenneth Scott and Noah Pred

There was no shame in dancing around in my yoga pants with a glass of wine, this is what quarantining is really about it in the end.

Hot Yoga at the Hotpod Yoga studio in Neukölln

31st January 2020 in Guide, Health & Fitness

What’s sweaty, inflatable, and leaves you feeling warm and fuzzy inside?  Of course we’re talking about Hotpod Yoga, which you can find in Neukölln on Karl-Marx-Strasse 75.

Hotpod Yoga specialises in hot yoga, taking place in an inflatable pod which is heated to 37 degrees, and filled with therapeutic aromas and sounds to create a unique environment to practice their signature “Hotpod Flow”.

In comparison to other hot yoga studios, the pod is equipped with humidifiers to help you ‘break the sweat’ as well as the pod itself is made from the parachute material which improves airflow.

Classes are for all levels – The signature Hotpod Flow class, is designed for Level 1-2, Dynamic Flow for 2-3 and Nurturing Flow, a more restorative class, is for all Levels.  You can check the level by reading the teacher bios online.

The team have been kind enough to offer Expats In Wonderland 50% off your first class with the voucher code WONDERLAND when booking online.

Offer is valid for a single use for new customers and valid until 1st May 2020.

Instructors Aleks, Hülya, Francesca & Sebastian always teaches in English, while most other instructors teach in both English and German.  Non-German speakers are welcome at any class, and even if the instruction is in German, your teacher will be able to answer any questions in English if needed. Contact the team online to check the language of your class.

Sünne set up the studio in 2015 close to her home in Neukoelln after falling out of love with her daily 1.5 hour commute.  Stumbling into a Hotpod Yoga class in London, she felt like the yoga scene in Berlin was a little behind the times, and so took the opportunity to transplant the concept over here.

The atmosphere created in the pod, combined with the superb standard of instructors at the studio make Hotpod Yoga one of Berlin’s best and most welcoming studios.  With so many options to choose from, the offering here is truly unique so whether you are a seasoned sweater or first timer it’s a good place to experience hot yoga at its best.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B3GqfpLjXyg/

If you’re new to the neighbourhood, the team recommend taking a warm up walk or run in the nearby Hasenheide Park or Tempelhofer Feld before your stretch.  For healthy drinks and snacks after, pop into OAK cafe around the corner for a golden milk and delicious vegan/vegetarian food.  A great place to bond with your new yoga friends!

For businesses and groups, the Hotpod Yoga studio can also be rented for private functions.  Get in contact via the website to find out more.

Absurd / Acid Test / Avenue 66 label founder Oliver Bristow & fashion professional Jeff Steiger

13th January 2020 in Interviews

Swapping the glamour of LA for the shabbier charm of Berlin, Oliver Bristow and Jeff Steiger relocated themselves, their business and two dogs Aujus and Winston.

Oliver runs record labels Absurd / Acid Test, and Avenue 66, and has released music from Tin Man, Donato Dozzy, John Frusciante, Joey Anderson and more.

No photo description available.

After moving to Berlin, Jeff landed a German speaking job in the fashion industry after just 6 months of lessons.  With a bit of hard work it can be done! So proud.

We catch up with them a year after their move to see how they are settling in.

You guys had stable jobs in the USA, a house, and various music projects rooted in the local scene. Why move to Berlin?

Oliver: I had been working at Amoeba (the world’s largest independent record store) for almost 20 years, and while I loved my job and the people I worked with, it became very comfortable.  

We were both searching for something new. Between the political climate in the US and the ridiculous amount of time we spent in traffic in LA everyday, we decided to sell our house and make the move.  Sometimes it’s good to make yourself vulnerable and this move has certainly done that.

We just wanted a change, and we’ve always loved Berlin.

How did you find the relocation process? What was the toughest part for you? Finding a flat, getting a visa, finding work?

Thankfully due to Expats In Wonderland we rented our flat within 2 weeks of landing in Berlin and sorted our visas out within a month.  We took 6 months off to take an intensive Deutsch course, before looking for work. I suppose that was the hardest part. I found work quickly after finishing up the course and Oliver is now working in Music Copyright aside from his label work.

Which neighbourhood have you chosen to live in and why? Did you consider other areas?

We were open to a few different areas, but landed in Kreuzberg.  We love it here, the Kiez is much more mellow than in years past and we’re central to everything.

Why did you choose your particular apartment?  What features/factors were most important to you when choosing a place to live?

We chose our place because we fell in love with the exposed brick, the proximity to the parks and the canal, and how close we are to friends, our gym and more.

Oliver & Jeff’s living room with furniture from LA.

What approach have you taken to making your living space your own?

When we first arrived we got some basics for our flat, but not much.

Their ever expanding record collection.

We shipped our furniture along with 2000+ records in a shipping container over from LA, so it was around 6 weeks before everything arrived.

Their shipping container from LA arrives in Berlin!

How did you find the process of relocating your labels over here?

(O) My record labels were already manufactured and distributed here in Germany through Wordandsound in Hamburg, so we already had a network here.  We’d been coming here for many years and doing label nights at places like Berghain/Panorama Bar. Most of the artists on the label are based either in Berlin or Europe, so from that perspective it’s been a real advantage to be closer to everyone.

https://soundcloud.com/absurd/joey-anderson-cindy

Do you ever get homesick for your home country?  What things do you miss the most? Are there things you do or places you go when you need a taste of your roots?

I wouldn’t say homesick so much as missing family and friends. That’s the hardest part. That and tacos.  Definitely miss tacos.

What do you think Berlin has to offer that is different to your previous home town?  What are the best things about living in Berlin?

Berlin has such a strong artist community and such freedom.  There’s just something magical about it. I love that fact that I don’t have to own a car anymore and that I can get anywhere I need to via bike within 10 – 20 mins. Summers at the lakes are amazing and our dogs absolutely love all the parks.

How have you integrated into the city? Have you learnt German? Did you make local friends or mostly expats?

We’ve made a lot of new friends.  Some though the music community and others through our German courses. 

Do you have any specific plans for what you would like to accomplish while living here, or just enjoy the lifestyle and spoils of the city?

We’ve just finalized our GmbH for a future project, can’t really say much about that yet, but other than that just soaking up the culture and enjoying everyday life in a new city.

What are you favourite places in and around Berlin to…

…eat

We mostly cook at home, but there’s an Israeli spot ‘Cafe Mugrabi‘ here in Kreuzberg that’s fantastic.  Lon Men’s Noodle House in Charlottenburg (best Tawainese)  And Ammazza Pizza in Kreuzberg is a go to spot for us as well.

…drink

Amazing coffee at Bonanza in Kreuzberg / we love to take out of town friends to Tier Bar for cocktails

…shop

Always fun to check out the flea markets.  Hard Wax, OYE, and Sound Metaphors are close to our place so those we frequent regularly.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BolTfS-Bvfr/

…explore

Biking in Grunewald, and discovering all the parks and lakes!

What advice would you give to other expats thinking to move to the city?

Biggest advice would be to take some German lessons, not only will you learn the language, but loads of history & culture and meet new people from around the world.

Find relief at one of Berlin’s top rated acupuncture & Traditional Chinese Medicine practices

8th April 2019 in Guide, Health & Fitness


Despite the joy it gives us solving Expat visa and flat cases, dealing with those disgruntled civil servants can sure take it out of you. So after too many hours hunched over forms, sitting on those uncomfortable immigration waiting room chairs, and smacking the proverbial bottoms of impertinent landlords, my body was begging for a little relief.

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Introducing our new partner Venn.city

26th March 2019 in Guide, Partners

Expats In Wonderland has partnered with Venn, a forward thinking co-living concept, which is established in Berlin, Tel Aviv & New York.

With their unique approach, Venn are offering beautiful furnished private apartments in their two buildings in Friedrichshain.  Each building has communal areas in-which the residents are encouraged to connect with their neighbours and build a sense of community. Plus they have hinted that new buildings will be opening in the very near future.

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