To say that I’m out of my element is, to say the least. I’ve been trying to read the English next to the German on signs in order to try to grasp some sort of resemblance to the US. It is not easy to venture off and tackle situations you wouldn’t expect, especially in another language. One thing that I always knew and thought was interesting about going to a different country is remembering that there are many similarities. It seems like when you meet different types of people that speak differently, act differently, grew up differently, and interact differently, it sometimes slips the mind that people have innate reactions to certain types of things. A smile is still a smile in a different language, a laugh is still a laugh. I will keep that in mind when I am out in Berlin. My sheepish smile will hopefully explain the humility that I have gathered and my horrible American-accented German will be met with sympathy from the natives and I will be able to get through one more day!
When I arrived in Berlin, it was raining but we still went out and explored the city a bit. Berlin is really interesting because it was built on a swamp so there are not many skyscrapers in the city. Everything in Berlin is spread out with wide streets. Since it was raining, not a lot of people were outside roaming around so it seemed like we had the city to ourselves.
During the past week, we have done a couple of insightful things as a group which has been fun. We met Ohio State students who were on the same program but for 8 weeks instead of 12 weeks and got dinner with them on one of the first nights to get to know them better. We were at an Italian restaurant and were served a lot of different dishes. The meal started out with a bowl of soup and then moved onto a platter filled with cheeses, peppers, and olives, followed by two different types of pastas and sauces.
We had the opportunity to have some downtime before our internships start up on Monday. We spent a couple of days roaming around the city to try and get a grasp on the area around us, as well as see what types of cool buildings and different types of architecture there are. There were a couple of events that my program assistant from Pitt organized. There was a canal tour organized that was alongside a tour of the iconic TV tower in Berlin. I however had to forego this trip in order to get my German cell phone plan in order so that I could effectively text my colleagues on the program and not need wifi to do so. There were a lot of small errands to run that were necessary, things like grabbing toiletries and getting a gym membership, all of which were small and tedious tasks but proved to be difficult because I didn’t know the lay of the land and the language barrier.
On Wednesday, my classmates and I organized our own trip to go to a lake. It was good to see a different side of the city, as it was on the outskirts of Berlin. Unfortunately, I don’t remember what the lake was called but it was a 45-minute trip, and given our extremely nice weather, we had to take advantage of the sun and go to the lake. The lake wasn’t anything too different from what we normally would see from America other than that there were little seat/dome things that were available for use on the sand.
On Sunday, we ended up going to Dresden as a group which was an awesome experience. I had no idea what Dresden had to offer and we left pretty early at 8 AM to venture out for a couple hours to the city. I took a nap on the bus and when we arrived I was pleasantly surprised to see beautiful palaces and old architecture. Dresden felt like an iconic European city with vast domes, cobblestone streets, and large lavish bridges. Our tour guide gave us the run-down on Dresden involving the historical context of the city in its unfortunate bombings in World War II. Dresden has been slowly rebuilt since the bombings and we were fortunate enough to visit.
The city is also known for its famous and delicious cakes which I had a slice of. The gelato there was fantastic and the outdoor venues served to be a great hangout spot. Overall, it was a successful trip to start this experience and I’m looking forward to what else is in store.