Internationals go Greifswald

Tiphaine Counali


Studies in home country

Political Sciences and Journalism (B.A.)
University and Académie de l’Ecole Supérieure de Journalisme (ESJ), Lille, France

Activity in Greifswald

Political Sciences (B.A.)


October 2018 - July 2019

Why did I come to Germany?

"As I want to become journalist, I think it is important for me to speak several languages. Therefore, the goal of my Erasmus year was to learn a new language. I have been studying German for 7 years but my level was still mediocre, I thought one year in the country would be the best formation. And that is why I am here in Greifswald!" 

Politics throughout Europe: between Berlin and Riga

An inside look of the Latvia Parliament

Last November, thanks to my good choice of course and the generosity of Greifswald's University, I got to participate in a work exchange between Latvian and German students.The purpose of this group work was to prepare a 40-minute presentation on a political related topic of our choice.

The Latvian students first came to Greifswald for a week to start the work project and to visit and spend some time in the lovely city. We then all together went to Berlin one day to discover the German political institutions and to converse with a member from the Research and Documentation Services from the Bundestag.

One month later, the German students and I flew to Riga for a one-week discovery of the city, the political institutions, the Latvian nightlife and of course to finish our work projects and to present them. We also had the opportunity to meet and talk with some Latvian Parliamentary members.

The highlight of the exchange was, for me, the Latvia trip. It was my first one to an eastern European country and it was a real change of scenery. The overall experience was truly interesting.

Beneath you can find a video that I made about the experience.

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March 2019 - Praising monologue of a french expatriate

Personal representation of my year in Greifswald one week deep into the Erasmus.
Me at a Saturday at 1 am at the green corner street Döner in Greifswald, lurking at my next victim.

After my whining diatribe against Germany, I thought I should give some credits to the country. Germany might not be the best destination in terms of cheese but I have to admit the land still owns some strong arguments in the food and drink industry. 


One’s cannot pay tribute to Germany without starting with the beverage topic. 

After starting studying in Lille in France I thought I had reached alcohol heaven: 7€ vodka bottle in shady supermarkets, 3€ shots in clubs and even 5€ pint in cheap bars. What else to ask! Some say France is the country of alcohol, but the truth is, it is only if you are prosperous enough. If you have a normal student living standard you can say goodbye to fancy wine and hello to grubby whiskey/coca - and the morning sickness that comes with it.  

Coming back to Germany, I was astonished by the prices here. Everywhere alcohol is at a bargain; whether you are in a bar in Berlin, a club in Hamburg or a supermarket in Greifswald.*

I immediately figured: “The amount of money I will spare this year since I can spend only 10€ for a night out!” WRONG.

I forgot one piece of data in the equation that are my expenses. When alcohol is cheaper, you tend to buy more.  And if you add the “Erasmus life” factor, also referred to “few work/loads of free time”, you end up with even MORE money wasted in alcoholic beverages of any kind.


          AKA: Scientific explanation of why I still lose ¼ of my monthly resources on alcohol

          Cheaper alcohol  =  as much money wasted on alcohol

          Cheaper alcohol + Erasmus life = even MORE money (stupidly) wasted

My second thought was: “Wow, alcohol is so cheap, my liver is going to thank me so much for buying better quality alcohol”. WRONG AGAIN.

To ease my conscience about losing so much money on alcohol I have always favored cheap beverages. And people don’t change. My paradoxical thinking, unfortunately, seems to be crossing borders. I still buy the cheapest liquor - big up to that 4€/30 % liquor from Aldi, best ratio price-drunkenness in town – and still regret it the morning after – big up for the nice stomach pain as well.

But not only does Germany turns me into an alcoholic, but it also makes me obese.


If Germany is good for one thing, it is surely döner. This land has been gifted with the best döner I have ever tried. However, coming from a French person it does not say much... I spent half of my high school years eating what we call “kebab” in France; the only quality they have is that they come with fries. It is basically garbage, but with fries.

Germany is far superior to France on that point. Your döner have the softest bread, the freshest vegetables, the tastiest sauces, and the juiciest halloumi cheese.  Yes, another issue with French kebab is that to have a vegetarian version when you don’t live in Paris is a true nightmare. Prepare yourself to face the arduous choice of ending up with salad in a bun or clearing out your wallet for 2 extra falafels.

In my first time in Berlin, half of my meals were döner: SO good, SO vegetarian-friendly and SO cheap! Because I did not precise it but on top of everything, German döner cost approximately 3€.

If you apply the cheapness equation on döners AND add the alcohol concern, we can conclude that this year in Germany won’t be a “my body is a temple” kind of moment. Nonetheless, I am grateful to be here and to be able to have fun for the price equivalent of a bier in Paris.

Footnote: Now you may think “Wow Tiphaine, such a tribute to Germany, you basically told we were fat drunks. Thanks”. But wait, pal, there are more to come about the greatness of this country.

* Live reaction of my Spanish friends and I uncovering our spending after our first night out in Greifswald.

December 2019 - Whining monologue of a french expatriate

Let me introduce you to: The horrendous cheesy pineapple chicken.
The monstrous cheese ham clementine sandwich. My phone’s camera quality could not grasp the atrocity of this affair.
The ancestral technique of the “French coward”.


Greetings to you who read.

Let me introduce myself before starting to rant.
I am Tiphaine, a French woman and an Erasmus student living in Greifswald for one year. As a journalist wannabe, I like to write. As your typical French person, I like to complain whenever the opportunity is given. Therefore I decided to join my two passions for you and sign this whining pamphlet.*

With globalization and European culture I was not expecting to find that many differences between two countries as close as Germany and France. After 3 months here, I started to notice some contrasts.
          Spoiler alert: you will not find major discoveries in this article. My everyday life is pretty much the same as
          in France: shopping in Lidl and H&M, eating Döner and drinking cheap beers.
          Nevertheless, some differences remain.


I might go deeper in the French cliché with this paragraph, but the cheese issue in Germany is a hot topic I ought to write about.  As an average French I also do love cheese. Not a day goes by without me mentioning cheese. My classmates here can –sadly- testify.

Before going abroad, my friends and relatives who already did an Erasmus warned me:
          “Tiphaine, we know how you worship cheese. Be prepared to be missing French cheese”.
           To which I replied full of hopes and dreams:
          “You dumb French people always so proud and chauvinist huh. Every country has good cheese”.

I have never been so wrong in my life. My web history full of Roquefort pictures attest for it. The French rule of cheese could be shortened into: the smellier, the better**. So imagine my surprise when entering Aldi cheese section for the first time I saw a shelf full of yellow plastic squares – yes, Edamer and Gouda I am thinking of you.
What do you people find appetizing about those tasteless cheeses? I don’t know, but, I still can endure this.
I mean, you German people are practical. You like brötchen. You ~like~ cheese. You want your cheese to be brötchen adequate: right size, right slice, standardizes cheese. That makes sense. What I could never comprehend though, is Germany’s numerous techniques to torture cheese. I don’t intend to start another worldwide debate, but I have witness way worse than the pineapple pizza here. Just take a look at the pictures on the left.

I am amazed by this country inventiveness in new ways to ruin cheese.
But Germany is full of surprises and it also has a broad knowledge on how to make us, prude French people, uncomfortable.


According to the discussions I have had with many Germans and Eastern European friends, the perception of nudity is different in France. In the country of love, bodies are much more sexualized in general. Thus, people tend to be less often naked in public areas - as beaches or else. Of course it is not a general truth that you can apply to the whole country. But still, in comparison to other easterner countries French culture leans less on nudity acceptance.

How do I know? Because I was pretty surprised to discover during my first sauna in Greifswald that it is here mandatory to not wear a bathing suit… Disconcerted and discomfort here I am.

Of course nude saunas also exist in France but you can’t end up in one by accident. You have to REALLY want to be there. Usually you are either a 70 year-old hippie or a 40 year-old swinger couple. Being used to –regular- French saunas where it is compulsory to wear a bathing suit if you want to stay in the spa and out of jail, I was not comfortable AT ALL being naked. 
My exposed body around people I don’t know or even worse, around people I know from a short amount of time is the exact description of my last nightmare.

So how does a prude French woman go to the sauna in Germany?
I did the ancestral technique of the “French coward”. I share with you this secret tip just to the left.

Maybe by the end of the year I will be able to go in the sauna naked. Who knows? Meanwhile let me dream of eating camembert fully clothed.

* This article’s goal is to be a satire. I love Germany, Germans and my newfound german way of life.
** Or the poetic “I like strong cheese and I cannot lie”.


December 2018 - Berlin mon amour


Today is the day. After one month living in Germany I am finally going to BERLIN!

A French friend, Salomé, is here in Germany for the week to visit me.  After discovering Greifswald, its restaurants, bars and clubs for a couple of days we are now leaving for the capital to be top quality tourists during 2 days.

Everything is ready: Flixbus booked, Youth Hostel in Kreuzberg reserved, backpack made… We are just lacking a program. We will improvise. Let’s the adventure begin!

Check the video below if you want to see the rest of our marvelous journey. 

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Impressions from Berlin