Being in Berlin
After three delayed flights, two missed ones, an unexpected detour through Paris, and the loss of our bags, the group of five St. FX German 300 students who arrived in Berlin with our professor this spring break had begun to wonder if it could possibly be worth it. We left a week later (with our bags, thankfully) certain in the knowledge that it had been.
The diversity of Germany’s capital is such that one cannot answer the question, “What is Berlin like?” in a single word, sentence, or even paragraph. Even more than that, every answer will be different.
For some, Berlin is the Neoclassical grandeur of the buildings of Unter den Linden and Museumsinsel. For others, Berlin is the stands on the street selling bratwurst and a bun for less than 2 Euros, and the curry ketchup sauce that the city has become known for. Berlin is a Western Civilization or Art History textbook come to life, as one marvels at the bust of Nefertiti or the awe-inspiring Ishtar Gate. Berlin is a dazzling array of beers to be sampled, not the mention the artificially coloured, beer based drink Berliner Weisse. Berlin is a city of memorials, with fragments of the wall in the midst of modern constructions, the bombed out spire of the Kaiser-Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche standing as testament of war, the city block of concrete slabs that constitute the Holocaust Memorial. Berlin is shopping, an exploration of European fashion like fresh air (or perhaps intoxication) to residents of Antigonish. Berlin is nightlife, being turned away from clubs for sneakers, and more beer once finally being allowed in one. Berlin is dressing up to go to the opera or ballet, sitting in awe (or pain, for some) and bemoaning one’s lack of talent. Berlin is entering into history, passing through metal detectors to enter the Reichstag or emotionally-affecting Jewish Museum. Berlin is hitting up the drugstores and grocery stores for enough chocolate to fill a carry-on bag. Berlin is the German language, saying “hallo” and “danke schön”, being surrounded by “Ausgang” and “Straβe” and “zurückbleiben, bitte”. Berlin might even be cars, the multi-million Euro race car prototypes or the mere two hundred thousand Euro convertibles of the Mercedes Benz showroom.
Whatever stands out—the grandeur or the modernity—simply being granted the chance to be in Berlin is fulfilling. The past, present and future of the city come together to surround you with whatever you could be looking for. As all of those German 300 students would agree, Berlin really is worth it.
GERMAN 300 Class Trip Photos