Friday, June 13, 2014

Week 2 in Berlin

It is amazing how time flies! I can't believe I have already been in Berlin for almost two weeks. There is always so much going on that it can be hard to find time to do things like write blog posts... woops.

I'll start with where I left off: last weekend. On Friday night we went out in Berlin. Nightlife in Berlin is so different than any nightlife I have ever experienced. People often stay out until 4, 5, or 6 in the morning! I am used to bars and parties shutting down by 2:00 am. That is plenty late for me! Also, it doesn't help that we live at least an hour from any neighborhoods we wanted to go to. We were all pretty tired by the time we even reached the city - and we didn't last long there. Overall it was pretty exhausting!

Saturday was much more civilized! I slept late and went to Rathaus Steglitz, the closest S und U Bahnhof, where there are lots of shops and restaurants. I walked around in the flea market, bought myself a pastry, and settled outside a Starbucks where I used their WiFi for several hours. Later, a group of us went to dinner at Luise Biergarten to celebrate the birthday of one of the girls from UNC.

On Sunday, I went with a few friends to the Carnival of Cultures parade. This festival is held each year on the weekend of Pentecost, which is widely celebrated here. Germans even have Pentecost Monday off! Unfortunately, FUBiS did not give us Monday off. Anyway, the carnival lasted all weekend and included markets, live music, and the parade on Sunday. The parade was made up of all different kinds of cultural groups. In just the hour we were there, we saw groups from different countries, music groups, and social justice groups. Here are a few pictures:


One of the funniest things at the parade was this very German title:

After an hour or so, we left to go on a tour of the Reichstag. Even though the parade was fun, I was glad to have a break from standing in the sun in 95 degree weather! In the Reichstag, we sat inside the room where the German government meets and learned a bit about the structure and procedures of the government. The guide mentioned that the architect who designed the interior had the idea of making the German government, which has a pretty rocky history, more transparent, literally and figuratively. Because of his theme, there are thousands of square meters of glass walls in the Reichstag. It was really cool to see the modern interior of a building with such an old exterior! After the tour, we climbed up the glass dome on top of the Reichstag, and spelled CAROLINA in the dome :) We didn't spend much time at the top of the dome though - just imagine the heat inside a glass dome on top of a building in 95 degree weather. Or don't.




After the Reichstag, we walked over to the Brandenburg Gate to get a few pictures. The sun was so bright though, that my pictures didn't turn out very well!

After that, most of our group went back to the carnival. They said it was even more fun afterwards! Unfortunately, I had to go back with one other girl to do some homework.

This week, my class field trips started! I am taking two classes: a German language class and a class about the literature and culture of Berlin since 1900. Both of my classes have field trips every week, which is nice to break up the time in the classroom! On Wednesday, I went with my language class to three museums. Three museums in one day was slightly exhausting, but they were also really cool! The first one was the Tränenpalast, "Palace of Tears," where people in East Berlin could pass over to West Berlin. It's really cool that the museum is in the same building where the Tränenpalast was, and that there are still a lot of original structures there. I don't seem to have too many pictures from the Tränenpalast.


After that, we went to the Alltag in der DDR museum, where we learned about the daily life of people living in the DDR. We saw propaganda, Westpakets (packages sent over from West Berlin, especially around the holidays), and clothes of workers.


Next, we went to the memorial site for the Berlin Wall. This was pretty interesting - yet the tour was in German and after visiting two other museums, I was really tired. I think I would have been able to get more out of it if we had gone there first! But it was still cool! We saw remnants of the wall that are still standing, poles that show where the wall used to stand, watch towers where guards used to oversee both sides of the wall, and a memorial for the 138 people who died trying to cross the wall. Apparently, until last year, it was thought that only 136 people died crossing the wall. In the last few months, stories of two more people were discovered.

Last night we took a break from studying and visiting museums, and went back to Luise Biergarten to watch the first game of the World Cup! It was great to sit outside and watch with so many other fans!

Andddd today we had a field trip in my other class! All the German history! We visited the Topography of Terror, which is all about Hitler's rise to power and the Nazi regime. It was really heavy, and there was so much information that we didn't even touch on. Outside the museum, there is a photo timeline, and inside, even more information. We spent an hour looking at the photo timeline, and over an hour inside. Our tour guide inside the museum chose just a few things to talk to us about, but we talked about each in great detail, rather than skimming through much more information. I thought it was great, and probably less overwhelming, to get to think deeply about a few things. I don't have any pictures from inside, but these two pictures are of the photo timeline. They are taken from the same exact spot - the timeline was really long!


Phew, that was a lot! There is always so much going on here, and so little time to blog about it! Tomorrow, FUBiS is taking a day trip to Dresden. On Sunday, I'm meeting with my new Tandem partner to speak for one hour in English and one hour in German. Then, we have a tour of the Berlin Wall, and then I'm meeting Lennart for coffee! So many exciting plans! I'll try to post again in less than a week this time!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting. It is fun to hear what you are doing and to see your photos. Can you believe we never went inside the Reichstag when we visited years ago? Sounds like Mom and I must return.