++ Thursday night is Kino Night at Metropolis Cologne - tickets only €4 ++ Düsseldorf celebrates its 725th birthday this year with a program of events and city tours planned ++

Essentials

Culture Shock

Moving to a foreign country can be like going on an adventure holiday. There are new challenges, new opportunities, new experiences, new friends and new cultures to explore. But once the novelty wears off and reality sinks in, living in a foreign land is often not easy at all. Some people slip into a new culture seamlessley. Others have a few hiccups along the way. Many slip into a deep depression. What a lot of people don't realize is that what they're dealing with in the process of adapting to living in a foreign land, is culture shock.

Celebrating a different kind of style

silver boots

Take a trip to any major European city and you'll be depressed by the similarities: Starbucks, McDonald, KFC, H&M, Burger King even Tesco's - they've secured their foothold across the high streets of Western Europe.  You now have to search for that quintessential "difference" that you used to be able to find from one city to another.  Even high street fashion can seem dull - it's far too easy to sink into H&M anonymity - pretty much through lack of time and enthusiasm and because of a kind of innate uniformity and lack of celebration of all things "different

Am Aschermittwoch ist alles vorbei!

lips

We all know the saying but no-one really wants to believe it - today - on Aschermittwoch, the Carnival season is officially over. As a dedicated "carnivalistin", on one hand I'm sad - but on the other, I'm happy it's all over for the sake of my skin. Being out in the cold weather for days at a time, wearing tonnes of lipstick and no gloves (because they just didn’t go with the costume daaarling!), my skin and hands need some special attention. But what should I use to return them to their pre-carnival beauty?

What's rockin' on your radio?

car radio

In my car I have six pre-set radio stations - EinsLive, BFBS, Funkhaus Europa, Radio-Köln, Big FM and KölnCampus.  The majority are run by big corporations, make huge advertising revenues and play back to back main stream pop.  And who do I find myself tuning into the most?

Car sharing in Cologne

flinkster

You want to be "green" so you don't have a car, you own a bike and you use public transport regularly.

American Women's Clubs - Cologne, Bonn and Düsseldorf

If you are new to the area you're probably wondering where to go to find people in the same situation as yourself.  One good place to start is The American Women's Club.  They organise events, get-togethers, baby groups, parties and outings, giving you an instant network of people who are happy to make you feel a little bit more at home in your new location. The American International Women’s Club of Cologne is a group of approx.

Finding sense in everyday living

Finding yourself in new life circumstances, like moving to a new country can trigger quite a variety of experiences: from mild confusion, irritability and disorientation mixed with curiosity and excitement to some states of anxiety and/or depressive moods; lack of concentration.

Cut price hostel opens in Cologne

hostel

Low price accommodation has been hard to find in Cologne, unless you're prepared to stay in one of the outlying suburbs, or the dirtiest looking back-packer hostel on Barbarossaplatz above MacDonald’s - not very enticing, especially if you're visiting for a weekend of culture and shopping.  Hostel Köln saw the gap in the market and has opened their first hostel between Neumarkt and Rudolfplatz - it's the perfect location.  The hostel is clean, and bright, has simple white walls and furnishings, with added colour accents to liven things up, and dark wood beds and tables.

'ello, 'ello, you're English aren't you?

We are accustomed to hearing an increase in the merry cackle of English at Christmas, when the tourists from the UK pour in to do their shopping at the traditional markets. But these days, be it in Cologne, Düsseldorf or Bonn, in the cafes, restaurants and bars, on public transport or in the shops, you increasingly are hearing more English accents, which presumably means that there are increasingly more Brits in the country.

Learning German

The German philosopher Martin Heidegger once said that man acts as though he were the shaper and master of language, while in fact language remains the master of man. It is certainly true that until you’ve mastered the rudiments of the German language, you are going to struggle to enjoy your time in the country.  So just where are the best places to learn the language locally?

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