This week is about to be super exciting! It’s a short work week due to a national holiday in Germany on Thursday. I, along with many of the others in my group, decided to also take off on Friday so that we could travel. After a ton of planning and coordination, we are officially leaving for Prague on Thursday morning! Prague has always been a place that I wanted to visit as I am actually 50% Czechoslovakian. My maternal great-grandma came over to the United States by herself when she was only 16, so many of my family traditions can be traced to this influence. At work last week, one of my coworkers asked me about my family history, and I was really excited to hear that he said he could actually “see the Czech” in me. I can’t wait to learn more about the home of my ancestors!
Although it’s time for another work week, I wanted to take the time to reflect on my weekend adventures! I was able to explore even more of Berlin with my friend Katy who stopped for a visit on her way to Prague for her study abroad program. Her flight got in late Friday night, and I picked her up from the airport and helped her find her way to her Airbnb, which was only about a 2 minute walk from my hotel! As Katy does not speak any German, I went with her to meet her host. This really put my German skills to the test as I had to act as her translator because there was a clear language barrier.
The next day, I gave Katy a tour of all of the main landmarks and historical sites in the city as possible. We started at the Brandenburg Gate and worked our way to the Berlin Wall, Holocaust Memorial, Checkpoint, Charlie, the Reichstag, and more. Since Katy only had two days in Berlin, I wanted to make sure that it was a worthwhile experience for her. We closed out our walking tour with a trip to the top of the TV Tower, the tallest structure in Berlin that provides an aerial view of the entire city. That night, after a quick nap to recharge, we found a quaint traditional German restaurant right near my hotel where Katy was able to sample some classic German dishes. The restaurant had a really cool vibe, and I could tell that it was mostly a place for regulars. However, everyone in the restaurant, including the waitress, was so welcoming!
What I have noticed during my time here in Berlin, is that there is a good mix of people who are quite friendly and want to get to know more about you and where you come from and others who are kind of standoffish. For example, while at the Brandenburg Gate, I worked up the courage to ask a woman in German if she could take a photo of me and Katy, and before even finishing my question, she cut me off and refused. However, on the contrary, last week on my lunch break from work, I was ordering my lunch from a little street stand and this young guy behind me asked me if I was German, and when I said no, he said he was quite surprised because my German was “so good.” I was flattered by his compliment, but had to laugh because I know that I was definitely struggling to order my food and my German skills were far from perfect. The man also explained how he was so excited to be able to practice his English with someone and find out more about where I come from. He told me that he thought Pennsylvania sounded like a “beautiful place” and that he’s always wanted to visit the US.
My Sunday with Katy was spent exploring places in Berlin that I had yet to visit. We walked around different neighborhoods, listened to street performers, went to an outdoor flea market, visited the interactive DDR museum, and ended our day in a biergarten in the zoo. Sunday was definitely a lot more relaxed of a day but just as fun! Sunday night, I said goodbye to Katy and sent her on her way. However, it isn’t a long goodbye because I’ll be seeing her this weekend in Prague! I am so excited for all of the many adventures to come over the next two months! Stay tuned for pictures and updates from my weekend in Prague!