Posts tagged ‘Berlin’

February 9, 2011

Scenes from Berlin

 

We’ve been working in a couple of my classes on reflections, essays, and projects from the Berlin trip. Berlin is a hard city to describe…. every time I thought I had gotten an idea of the vibe of the city, I encountered some totally different aspect of it. So here are three quick scenes, each about a different dimension of Berlin!

I.

berliner rain.
It isn’t really raining, but it isn’t really dry.

The sky above is utterly blank and white as if someone had erased the sun and the clouds and the blue. But there is a heaviness to this erased sky; it weighs down with something more than just emptiness.

repurposed.

II.

berlin graffiti.

Graffiti pervades everywhere.

You noticed it before you left the train station, even before you got off the train. It covers without discrimination: buildings, signs, walls. Graffiti, the mask of the city, acts as a tough exterior, a film between Berlin itself and the tourists passing through. Tourists like me.

III.

Berlin Wall
To your left stretches a Wall. The Wall.  It is relatively inconspicuous – not tall, not thick, but colorful with its own excessive explosions of the graffiti.  In my own mind the Berlin Wall has always loomed large and menacing… the Iron Curtain, the impenetrable barrier, the edge of a system and lifestyle that I knew and understood.

The reality of these stooped and broken remnants of a wall does not jibe with my expectations.

———

In some ways, Berlin was kind of a downer – we focused our studies on the upheavals of history, the war, and communism.  But at the end, I really liked the city.  It has rebuilt and restructured itself into a unified Western European city in such an amazingly short period of time.  And everywhere you go – historic sites and buildings coexist with new, modern structures…..
reichstag energy. gendarmenmarkt.

J’adore that juxtaposition. : )

So. Traveling around Europe has been great so far! And this weekend, I’m headed for the Swiss Alps for lots of snow and sledding – I can’t wait! But first… German test on Friday. : O

February 5, 2011

Berlin + Prague, part I

It’s been a busy week in Freiburg! Classes started, and I was sick earlier in the week. I’m feeling a lot better today though, and ready to post more updates!

For Berlin and Prague, we broke up into two groups of about 30. I was in Group B for this trip, which focuses on economics and finance issues, while the other group focuses on politics.

We went to Berlin first, where we studied the reunification of East and West Germany. Here’s a picture of Potsdamer Platz, which used to be flattened, empty and sliced straight through the middle by the Berlin Wall….

postdamer platz.

In Berlin, we stayed in hostels – sort of like hotels but with 5 or 6 people to a room.

The weather was frightful! It was cold, wet, and rainy/snowy the whole time we were there.

berliner rain.

After Berlin, we went to Prague for 2 and a half days, where we got to stay in hotels. Here, we studied transitions to market economies in countries of the former Eastern Bloc, such as the Czech Republic.

The biggest challenge in Prague was trying to figure out the exchange rate – they aren’t in the eurozone! I had to keep swapping out euros for Czech crowns, and the mental math got a little complicated sometimes.

praha.

Prague is situated on the Vltava River, and is home to sooo many pretty bridges!

river bend.charles bridge.

This trip was great and I loved seeing the history and current issues of the two cities up close! I’ll post more pictures and impressions from Berlin and Prague soon! : )

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