I can't believe I have only been in Berlin since Saturday night! I already feel close with the other students on the trip. I have been spending a lot of time with a few other students from UNC, along with one or two other students. Most of us live in the same student dorms, which are about an hour by bus and train southwest of the city center, and about half an hour from our classroom building. As my program leaders said, we are living the life of commuter students. The commute has not been a problem, though, because buses and trains run so frequently here. The small number of cars on the road at 8:15 am is really impressive to me. While there are certainly cars, there are also way more bikes, buses, and pedestrians than I would expect in an American suburb. Our location is also great because we are about one block away from a branch of the Spree River, which has paths on either side that stretch for miles in both directions. It is great for running! Here is a picture that one of the other UNC students took.
My program, FUBiS (Freie Universität Berlin international Summer and Winter University), is hosting about 140 American students at FU this summer. Some people are in upper-level German classes, while others have never studied German before, and are learning it for the first time now. When I first got here, I was a little disappointed that I was around so many only-English-speaking Americans. On Monday, though, we had placement interviews for our German language classes. I was excited to be placed in the highest level because my classmates can also carry conversations in German. Now, with both of my classes, I am speaking German in class from 9:00 am until 3:00 pm, with one and a half hours of breaks. I really hope my German will improve after six weeks (even if I am mostly speaking English with Americans outside of class)!
This week we have also explored the city a little bit. Yesterday we had a Bootseetour on the Spree River. Here are a few pictures from that!
After the tour, we walked along the river for a bit, and stopped for dinner at a restaurant which has a "stock market" for beers - you only pay as much for your beer as it is worth at that given moment. We thought it was a fun idea! Along the way to dinner, some of the people we were with posed as statues:
And, I have been challenged to take a picture with every Berlin Bear I see. Two down, many to go!
This weekend we have plans to visit the city even more, including a tour of the Reichstag. I'll post more after that! Tschüss!