Berlin Updated – John-Marc Eshelman

22 Jul

Berlin has been amazing experience so far. I really didn’t know what to expect, I haven’t ever been to Europe before and even though I’ve been all over the US the whole country is fairly uniform. I’m finally getting used to not being able to understand the people around me. Berlin doesn’t look like a city, it’s so old that there are only a very few skyscrapers and when you’re on the street it just feels like a big town. People do not really rush around like Americans do. It might be because it’s summer here but everyone is quite relaxed. The greatest difference that the boys and I have noticed is the cars! The affluent neighborhood that we live in but and are supercars everywhere in the city! It’s not uncommon for us to see two or three supercars (Maseratis, Lamborghinis, and Ferraris) every time we ride the bus! I really didn’t expect the German People to be so nice. They seem kind of cold at first because the are not an outgoing people but once you start talking to them they are really nice!! Almost every time you open a map in the train station someone will ask you if you know where you are going and if you need any help. They are also quite accommodating for non-German speakers; I’ve been able to order everything I want with a mixture of English and my very very limited German.


I think of all the students Nico and I have had the most adventures. On the second day we were here the group misplaced us. We had stopped to take a picture and when we turned around the group was nowhere to be seen! We were able to find them about an hour later using free Starbucks Wi-Fi and a map we got from a tour guide that didn’t know anything. On our most recent adventure we took the subway in the wrong direction while trying to get home at 1am and didn’t figure it out till we had almost made it out of the city. A nice French couple helped us out and we made it back safe and sound.


Hallo Deutschland! – by Nick VanDam

22 Jul

After our flight landed, we all quickly realized that we were in for not only an absolutely amazing trip, but a culture shock as well. People seemed to be in less of a rush and kept to themselves a lot more. Buses and trains seem to be the main mode of transportation, but there are still plenty of really cool european cars to look at. By taking the buses and walking around a great deal, we are all also beginning to learn our way around. My first impression of Berlin was that it was very big and had some amazing architecture that has been preserved throughout the years (like the photo below of the church we went to). To me, a city like this with the varying architecture on every block will never get old. The weather has been around the 70’s and it has rained just about every day for a short period of time, but that hasn’t stopped us from what we are wanting do. We are getting plenty of interaction with locals and are learning a little bit more every day.
A typical day includes getting on the bus around 8:00am and taking it to the TU of Berlin, where we take both our Engineering and German Courses. For lunch, we get back on the bus and head to the ‘Mensa’. Which is large cafeteria intended for college students. After lunch we head back to German class until 4:30pm. From here to the end of the day we find a cheap place to get food (typical Hollanders) and do our homework. So far, Germany has been an absolute blast and it is hard to believe that we have only been here for a week. It will be interesting to see what the upcoming week has in store for us!

Where we went to church today!

Germany – First Impressions

22 Jul

In many ways, Germany doesn’t seem too much different from the U.S. at first glance. Life goes on as people go about their daily business; buying, selling, working, and having fun just like anywhere else. Sure they have customs and ways of doing things that are different, but in the end they seem to lead lives not that much different from ours.
Walking along the sidewalk one day, the thought occurred to me that most of the older people had seen first-hand the devastation and division caused by World War 2 and the Cold War. And even those too young to remember the Berlin Wall had grown up in a land suffering from the evil that was released during that period. This is something that most Americans cannot identify with.
This realization followed by our field trips to Sachsenhausen and the East Side Gallery caused me to give more thought to how some of these slight differences hide much deeper differences that I am entirely incapable of identifying with.

~Brenton Newswanger

bErLiN – Ryan DeMeester

22 Jul

On my long list of things to do before leaving for Germany, I did not give much attention to the weather.  Little did I know that the weather in Berlin would have a mind of its own.  Throughout the first few days here I was shocked by the cool breeze turning into torrential downpour, and a few minutes later being warm enough to have to take off my jacket.  Something that sets Berlin apart if that despite all the flashy cars and modern architecture, there is so much history and culture imbedded throughout the city.  

Before coming here I had not been familiar with the use of public transportation, but it is something that gives such flexibility and freedom on this trip.  Even though all the streets and announcements are in German, they have everything down to a science and are so precise with there times that it makes public transportation a breeze.  Overall this trip has been such an incredible experience and I’m looking forward to adventures in the upcoming weeks. 

First Impressions – Zak DeVries

22 Jul

My first impressions of Berlin were quite different than I was expecting. The city is a lot newer than what I had thought it was going to be. I was expecting more old houses and smaller buildings, more of a sound of music kind of look.  It definitely is not like this there are brand new buildings all over the place and tons of people running around everywhere. Even though it is different than what I expected I like the city a lot. Another thing that I wasn’t expecting was the amount of beautiful cars. There are Porches and BMW and Audi’s everywhere. It’s a ton of fun to just go sit on the side of the street and watch them all go by. The place where we are staying is very nice and big. The rooms are set up in a loft fashion and really make it feel homey.

                It has been very different living in a place where English is not the main language. Although most people can speak a little English there are many places once you get off the beaten path that don’t know any English. I think that this makes life interesting and it seems like an adventure everywhere we go. It’s a thrill to go by dinner and use German to order the food. My favorite thing about the city is the adventure of it all, there is always something to do or to go find, and usually we get lost or confused but eventually we end up where we need to be, but the trip there is the best part.

Berlin Perceived – Schieffer

21 Jul

Hello, Berlin? It that you?

Initially I was expecting more tall buildings, like those in Hong Kong. Instead, I saw an overgrown village. There are still a lot of green around and short yet classy buildings. I was also expecting a lot of more people to be around too, but that was not the case. I was later told that a lot of Berliners are on summer vacation and thus they are out traveling. It would be nice to do that if my future work allowed me to have that kind of time.

There is one thing that I immediately spot as similar to Hong Kong: the traffic signs and the ease of traveling around. Other than the bike paths and the occasional street signs, all is pretty much the same to HK: double decked buses, narrow lanes, cars that don’t stop a mile away for you to cross the road, traffic lights turning red yellow etc.

The occasional rain did not stop me from enjoying Berlin. Though sometimes it is quite annoying because the weather would decide to be sunny and yet raining at the same time, running around Berlin and seeing different things was quite fun. Its a different culture with different people. One can’t judge too quickly unless they are a fool.

Engr homework was pretty heavy during the first week, especially when jet lag was still dragging on us during the day. We flew through chapters in the book and run-stumbled on the homework. We had a test on Thursday, and I have no idea how that went. Hopefully everyone did alright….

Berlin-Nico Ourensma

21 Jul

Having been to The Netherlands multiple times, I had a pretty good idea of what Berlin would be like. What I didn’t realize it that would be staying in one of the nicest and richest parts of the city. The houses on our street have are immaculate. Living in Iowa, I don’t get to see very many luxury and sports cars. Within the first week of being here, I have seen an amazing amount of cars that I had only seen in magazines and movies. As for the culture, it’s pretty much how I expected. The “smile when something is funny and not just to be nice” mentality can make Germans seem unwelcoming. The weather has been damp to say the least. It seems like we’ve had more rain here in the past week than I saw the first half of summer in Iowa. I’ve learned not to leave our place without my rain jacket or umbrella.
The first few days of class were rough, due to a pretty large work load. However, it is a four credit class crammed into six weeks so I shouldn’t expect anything different.
Overall, the week I’ve had in Germany has been great. It’s an amazing experience and I’ll remember it for the rest of my life.