And So It Begins…

So far my time in Berlin has already been exceptional. My first week was a lot of fun because I did a ton of orientation activities, and got to spend time getting to know the city and the other kids in my group.

May 22nd (Tuesday)

This was the day I arrived in Berlin, after a flight from Philadelphia to Dublin, and then Dublin to Berlin. Needless to say, it was a very long day. However, when I arrived I was barely halfway through the day! I met the other Pitt students in my group as well as my program manager for Intrax, Britta. We met her at the airport and carried all of our very heavy luggage throughout German public transportation… which I would not recommend. After we checked into the hotel, we set off on a walking tour of Berlin. We saw the Brandenburg Gate, Jewish Memorial, Checkpoint Charlie, and even the former spot of Hitler’s bunker. I was pretty exhausted as I hadn’t slept since my first flight, but learning about the history as we walked around the city was unique. Afterwards we ate at a delicious restaurant that had a mixture of Italian and German food. I tried Currywurst for the first time, which I highly recommend. We thought about going out that night, but by the time we all reached our hotel we all passed out before we could do anything.

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May 23rd (Wednesday)

We began the day with language lessons from 9-11 AM in the Intrax office, and they weren’t too bad because I have previous experience with German. Afterwards we talked about the responsibilities and practicalities of our internships with Britta. She also introduced us to some students doing a similar program through another school, who we hung out with later in the week. We then went on a tour of the Reichstag, the German parliament. I was still very jet lagged at this point, but I really enjoyed going to the top and being able to walk around the large glass dome structure on top of the building. The Reichstag is particularly amazing to me because it was completely destroyed in 1945 and has now been restored to its former glory. Afterwards, we went to a Biergarten in the center of the Tiergarten, where I tried very authentic German food and craft beer. I wasn’t too sure about the taste of either, but I had a lot of fun getting to know my fellow group members more, since Biergartens are such a social atmosphere. We returned to Charlottenburg, the neighborhood we are all staying in, and went to an ‘Irish Pub’ and sat outside with drinks and chatted with one of the people from the other program. Overall a satisfying day!

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May 24th (Thursday)

We began the day with more language lessons, followed by a visit to a historic museum where we learned about the Weimar Republic (the era of politics before the Nazis officially gained power). It was very insightful and it was a bit scary to see how the foundations of the Nazi regime were laid out. Afterwards we visited the Hertie School of Governance, where we found out about the various programs they have there. We then went to the Monkeybar, which is on the tenth floor of a building with an amazing view of the Tiergarten. After this, my group and I went out to dinner on our own in Charlottenburg where I had an incredible enchilada- far better than anything I’ve had in the states. This day was cut short because I finally gave in to jet lag- I fell asleep right after dinner.

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May 25th (Friday)

We began the day as always, with language lessons in the morning. Afterwards we visited a modern art museum, which was a nice change from the history of the past few days. The art was very abstract but there was so much of it that it was fascinating. Afterwards we went to an Italian restaurant that had a very odd business model: customers had to stand in line as the chef prepared the dishes at a very slow pace. In the end it was worth it, because my pasta was incredible. We followed this up with a visit to a smaller art gallery where we met a fellow American student that we got coffee with afterwards. Our activities were now over, so my group decided to go out to a club with some fellow American students, which I was later informed by co-workers was ‘one of the trashiest in Berlin’. Regardless, I had fun.

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May 26th and 27th (Saturday and Sunday)

After such a jam packed week, I mostly just relaxed the weekend before work started. I had also strained my left shoulder from carrying around my bag so much, so I will be careful about that in the future. I did manage to visit a cute cafe down the street from me with delicious quiche. I mostly spent this time mentally preparing for going to work!

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