This weekend was a great time to stay in Berlin! I was lucky enough to experience Germany win the World Cup while in Berlin! The energy in the city was amazing and it was great to experience the victory celebrations. The spirit in the air was of nothing less than exhilarating. Even without having an ounce of German blood in my heritage, it was near impossible to not be overwhelmed and excited for the country that was about to engage in one of the world’s largest competitions.
To start off, on Saturday, my roommate’s two German friends came to Berlin to hang out and we ended up walking around the Tiergarten, a park within the city, and managed to catch a random flea market. It is not a well-known market so there was not a large crowd. It had a lot of the same types of trinkets and essentials that would be sold at a regular market but it was in a smaller and less commercial setting. There were a lot of cool stands that sold antique items as well.
The next day, on Sunday, I went to the Mauer Park Market, which is one of the more popular flea markets, and hung out with some friends. Mauer Park was a bit more crowded with both tourists and locals and had stalls with a little bit of everything. It was a very relaxed day as I was trying to save my energy to cheer for the German soccer team that evening.
That night, was the World Cup final game. The game was at 9pm however, at around 5pm, I was contacted by a friend telling me that the fenmeile (public viewing area) at the Brandenburg Gate would stop admitting fans around 6pm. At 5:20pm, 7 of us hustled over in a couple of cabs. By the time we got there, it was already jam-packed with people in black, red, yellow, and white clothing. The spirit in the air was of nothing less than exhilarating. Even without having an ounce of German blood in my heritage, it was near impossible to not be overwhelmed and excited for the country that was about to engage in one of the world’s largest competitions.
People chanted loudly and drank copiously in order to calm their nerves for the big game. We arrived at the fenmeile around 6:00pm and realized that we still had three hours to kill before the game. This gave us plenty of time to waste money on food and drinks, make new friends, and find a good spot to watch the game.
Soon after, the game was underway. The energy was high and the nervousness built with every pass and play. As if it happened in the blink of an eye, halftime came and went, then the full time was up. I remember the intensity increasing in extra time and cheers filled the air and echoed when Goetze was subbed in. In the 113th minute, Goetze scored the first and only goal of the game. The fenmeile blew up. I mean, it absolutely exploded. People were pushing and shoving each other while smiling and chanting. “Super Deutschland Ole” roared through the crowd after a massive “WOOOH” that seemed to last forever. Then, as if by cue, silence. People didn’t want to jinx the good luck and wanted to keep the 1-0 lead. However, as soon as fans noticed that the German players were keeping possession and momentum near the closing minutes of the game, the energy started up again in exponential form. Fans began cheering as flares started to go off and people anticipated fireworks in the air.
In the 120th minute, it was a blur. We headed out of the fenmeile in order to beat the massive crowds and get to where taxis were located but had to stop every couple of minutes to observe.
There were people setting off flares in the street, fans with massive Deutschland flags waving in front of the Berlin Hauptbahnhof (train station), people running in the fields of the Reichstag (the parliament building), and couples kissing each other in happiness for Deutschland.
After we left the fenmeile, we got a cab to Kudam, which is the main street that we live near. When we approached Kudam, the place was absolute mayhem. The streets were flooded with cars and pedestrians not paying any attention to the traffic laws and just roaming the streets. People were running around with their Deutschland flags, drinking, and celebrating the win. Every car was honking in celebration, doing burnouts, and blasting music. Some people climbed onto the back of trucks and started jumping up and down, others joined in the middle of intersections and cheered. Fireworks were bursting in the air and confetti was being thrown from windows; the place was nuts!
As cliché as it sounds, you “had to be there”. I feel blessed not only to have the opportunity to intern abroad in a country that won the World Cup but to also experience the culture and pride of a different country that is not of my own. It gives me perspective into the similarities between people and gives me an appreciation for people, their cultures, and their values.