Berlin reminds me of Chicago. Same big city kind-of feel, lots of cars and certian unmentionable smells. Needless to say not the worst place ever, but I find love in other places. One such place is called the Grunewald Forest. The forest is about two and a half miles away from our hostal and, being that I am on the Calvin Cross-Country Team, I run in, around, and through it every day racking up miles. The forest is rather large and there are hundrends of paths and different routes through it, that after many runs I have decided that one can run a different route through the forest every day for a whole year. However, even though the forest is large, there is a unique feeling about it. For example, at some parts I will see people running or walking their dogs (I have also decided that everyone in Berlin owns a dog), and yet at other parts I am completly secluded, away from all the hustle and bustle one finds in a city. When the solitude and tranquility begin to set in, I always happen to see a person off in the distance – either riding a bike or running down another path. One time, I even saw a person in a clearing off to the side of the path doing yoga. One of my most picturesque moments happened on one of my longer runs in which I ran across the forest and came to a rather large lake. The sun was just setting and the rays danced across the surface as the wind gently nudged the water into a rythmatic lull. I thought it was a beautiful sight. However, as all good things have to come to an end I still had to run all the way back….it happens.
I have to admit before this trip I thought Berlin would be a hustling, bustling city like New York. And although it is quite crowded at times, and quite busy, it also has a small town vibe to it. With the old buildings and cathedrals everywhere, and little local places to eat, I found myself thinking of it as more of a small town at times. And then we took the U-bahn (which is similar to a subway) and it immediately felt like a big city again. I think both aspects of the city make it beautiful. I have never seen any other city have two completely different sides to it like that.
I also tried German food and immediately loved it. Even things we have in the US like ice cream seem different here. Although it is all more expensive. It appears as though the German people prefer high quality things even at a higher price. It shows in their buildings too: beautifully crafted, very old buildings. Highly expensive to build, but high quality and still beautiful after years of wear and tear.
The German people are quite friendly, although not in the way we Americans consider friendly. People on the street don’t smile as much because that is their culture. They smile if something is funny, not simply if someone looks at them like we do in the US. It is an adjustment. The young people, however, are pretty much just like ours: outgoing, funny, enjoy goofing around. There were some high school students staying at our hotel from Bremen and they pretty much acted just like our group.
It has been a great experience so far to see the German culture. My only complaint is that there are hardly any public bathrooms, and often the ones you do find cost 50 cents, or they have an attendant that requires at least a 20 cent tip. I suppose for the sake of a beautiful city like Berlin, I can tolerate that. <3
Coming to Berlin has been absolutely amazing. Never really having seen pictures of the city, wandering around and exploring its extents is so exciting! The layout of the city is so abstract compared to Chicago (nearest large city to home for me). I was expecting tall skyscrapers and industrial exteriors, but instead found an average of six or seven stories, and the buildings are all unique! Every day I seem to find a new house or shop corner that I hadn’t noticed before and I love just staring at the details and designs.
It’s also fun to see the cultural differences between Germany and America in social aspects. Like how people don’t say ‘hi’ to strangers they don’t know but accidentally made eye contact with. A German isn’t going to ask to sit next to you on the bus, they paid for a ticket, so they’ll sit where they please. In public areas, Germans only speak as loud as is necessary, so going into the Mensa (cafeteria) I was shocked at how quiet it was compared to how filled the whole establishment was!
Of course, I must comment on the cars. They are beautiful! In America people get excited when they see an audi or BMW, but here, it’s a fair occasion to see a Ford!
Coming to Berlin I had no idea what to expect. Having only spent a single semester learning the language I knew I would be unprepared. When I arrived in Berlin I was surprised at the amount of English on signs and ads in the area. There were almost more English signs than German signs. Most the people in Berlin can speak English or at least some of it. However attempting to explain a blown fuse to a person who only speaks basic English turned out to be quite the challenge. Fortunately Google Translate came to the rescue and power was restored. Usually communication isn’t much of an issue thanks to hand gestures and the basic language we know which I find I am more and more comfortable using. The transition to the German speaking culture is slow but it has been a great experience.
Getting off of the plane in Berlin was a surreal feeling. From the signs with hundreds of words I didn’t understand to the different social styles and looks, there were too many things to take in at once. Over the course of this first week though I have slowly become accustomed to the many differences between our two societies. There are so many things that I love about this place. The food has been great, even if we’ve eaten the same breakfast of bread and butter for the past 9 days in a row with no end in site. The feel of this city is one of history yet still holding modern ideas and technologies to a high standard. Everything and everyone always seem to be busy or moving with a plan, which is quite different from many American standards. Watching a long stretch of road get torn up, repaved, and repainted, all in 48 hours and of great quality… Never happens back in the states. I have loved every minute over here in Berlin doing so many exciting and new things and experiencing it all with such an awesome group of friends. I can’t wait to see what these next few weeks have in store for me. Not to mention how many more Ferraris and Lamborghinis we’ll see… Extremely jealous.
Well my first impressions of Germany, specifically berlin was just like Chicago but without the need to have the tallest building in the world every 2 blocks. All that being said the place is growing on me. The cathedral called the “Berliner Dom” is truly a sight to behold and the broken down chapel isn’t a bad either. The food here is really quite good, but for the cost of it, and the beer is superb that I have tried all in all it is a fairly nice time here in Germany.
What didn’t I expect? That our Germany teacher would have a posche accent and that fact just is so wonderful I can’t even explain. In addition to that, the price of everything is more before the fact that the exchange rate is against us so this is going to need a lot of budgeting to last. Also I am eating a lot of pickles for some reason not that has anything to do with berlin just it is odd, SERIOUSLY though, posche accent it just so great.
Having taken more German than any other student going on this trip, I thought I was totally prepared for what I would see in Berlin, but the reality is very different from that. Although I’ve learned a lot about German culture and language over the last few years I’ve definitely picked up a lot in just the first week of being here. For example, it’s common for a groom-to-be to raise money for his wedding by doing some odd things, such as selling eggs for people off the street to throw at him. That was definitely quite the sight on our first day in Germany. Berlin is such an amazing place, it’s a huge city but it feels small, and that makes it feel a little more like home for those of us that grew up in smaller towns. Plus the people here are amazing friendly and always willing to help, especially if you ask them in German. The first day was a little overwhelming, but after a while I started just absorbing the language and picking up subtle language skills that make me sound more like a native German and less like an American who just knows German. We have seen so much history and amazing buildings in Berlin I would take up more than my fair share of space describing them, but perhaps one of my favorites is the Berliner Dom, which is a massive Reformed church constructed in the style of a Catholic cathedral, with impressive statues and stained glass and a massive dome that is the crown of the whole building. Just getting to take a tour of the dome and walk around it outside and see the whole city was spectacular. There are so many amazing things about Berlin that I don’t have space to write about, so much good food and great things to see and even a few people who thought I was an actual German. Getting the chance to travel abroad and see another country and become immersed in another culture is so awesome, and I’m so thankful that I’ve gotten this opportunity. I’m learning new things everyday, and I can’t wait to see what the next couple weeks have in store.