Berlin in 3 words: eclectic, lively, vibrant.
After only living in this city for nearly a week, I have already fallen in love with everything Berlin has to offer from the diverse neighborhoods and the unique cuisine to the exposure to a new language and culture. I feel comfortable in this environment, especially for it being such a new experience in my life.
This is my first time traveling to Europe, as well as my first time traveling alone. I have been on family vacations within the United States and have taken road trips with my friends prior to this adventure, but I have always dreamed of exploring Europe. I chose Germany specifically because I am interested in learning more about Western Europe and what it’s actually like to live in a European city. I’ll have the opportunity to learn German authentically by immersing myself in the Berlin culture. I’d love to come back one day to work in Berlin and by learning the German language that dream will become a more achievable reality. I’ve learned about some of the culture from what I’ve read in books, but there is much to be learned from experiencing the daily life firsthand. I’ve heard a lot about Berlin being a lively scene for entrepreneurs and start-up companies, and that excites me as my first day at my internship quickly approaches.
My nerves were overcome by excitement when I arrived to the airport in Pittsburgh Monday morning to begin my journey. After 18 long hours of traveling, I was eager to jump into the rich culture and excitement of Berlin. We hit the ground running on our first day in the city—walking actually—with a walking tour of the city. We visited sites such as the Brandenburg Gate and the Tiergarten, as well as the Holocaust Memorial and the Berlin Wall. I learned more about the history of Germany and how much it has evolved throughout the years to become the country it is today. We ended the night at a lovely Italian restaurant enjoying the beautiful weather as the sun set on our first day in Berlin.
One of my goals for my trip is to learn the complex language of German and develop my skills to a basic conversationalist level. On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday we began our days with German class to learn the basics of the language. I’ve always admired the art of language and German is a unique one indeed. On Wednesday, we visited the Reichstag, which is the German Parliament building, and after our tour we took the bus to the Tiergarten where we had dinner. It’s easy to lose track of time, because the sun doesn’t set until around 9 PM each night. For me this just allows more time for exploring, so I’m not complaining.
Following German class on day 3, we traveled to the Deutsches Historisches Museum and learned about the Weimar Republic and the history before Nazi Germany. It was very interesting to see all of the artifacts and documents representing Germany’s history. We were even able to see the Treaty of Versailles which interestingly enough was written in English and French. Proceeding our tour we visited the Hertie School of Governance and learned about their offerings as a Graduate school. Berlin is known for creativity and the graffiti painting the city. Ironically, the restaurant we visited that night was called Graffiti. In Berlin, the smallest paper currency is the 5 euro. 1€ and 2€ only come in coins which has been an adjustment. It is very common in Berlin to pay with cash and using cards isn’t as common, but still possible depending on where you go.
Our last day of orientation was our day for the arts. In the afternoon, we visited the Hamburger Bahnhof, a contemporary art museum, which was full of various mediums of art. After, we went to a restaurant called Vapiano. They have an interesting self-serve business model, but the food was delicious. Our day of art continued with a visit to Kuckei + Kuckei, an art gallery in the neighborhood of Mitte. This is where I will be working in the coming weeks. I loved the atmosphere of the neighborhood. There were so many hip restaurants and cafés. I saw a Polish street food restaurant called Tak Tak- Polish Deli and I can’t wait to try out their pierogis being that they’re one of my favorite foods. My family is from Poland, and I’ve never experienced a place this authentic back in the States.
I’m excited to continue exploring the hip neighborhoods within this beautiful city, and I can’t wait to start my internship on Monday.