Hello all, I have realized that I am horrible at keeping you wonderful readers updated so please spare me. WELL, this week is the last week of classes at Humboldt University and I can tell you that I have gained so much in only 4 short weeks. I am taking the International Economic Law course also another German Language class. I absolutely love my IEL course. One the first day I was very nervous because for once, I was the International student and I did not know what I was up against. But, all my nerves went away when everyone had to do introductions. Everyone in that class was from a different part of the world (not even over exaggerating, except for the students in the NU Berlin program already). There were students from the U.K., Greece, France, China, Brazil you name it. It was so funny because regardless of how far away we all are across the world, we still are able to build friendships and talk about pop culture and funny videos that went viral on social media. All of us wanted to know so much about each other’s culture and attaining this knowledge keep me very exposed to the real world. Our professor, Professor Hanno, is really passionate about the topic so he made every thing sound all interesting (I mean don’t get me wrong it is great to learn but sometimes having to learn case after case can get a little bit overwhelming). Anyways, I met a few great people and I am hoping that I can keep in contact with them after the program. As for the German language course, I am perfecting my basic skills and the class isn’t too hard. We were somewhat ahead because of the fun NU German course we had 4 weeks earlier (Shout out to Wiebke). The area around the school is great because it is right by Alexanderplatz, Hackescher Markt, and Anlegestelle Nikolaiviertel. I never end up going back to thehotel straight after class; I always end up somewhere else.
So, now to the really fun stuff. My Birthday passed a few days ago and I am officially 20 yay!!!!!!! I was pretty excited that I would get to spend my Birthday in Berlin. It also happened to land on a day where the program provides group dinners for us so I got to pick the place. We also went to a beach bar called Yaam. I cannot tell you how much I love that place. The food, music, and atmosphere is great. I am grateful that I was able to bond with other students on the trip because my Birthday was actually a success. I really have made some great friends. Speaking of that, Laura and I have surprisingly backed away from the ice cream fetish that we had. This is sad because I am almost certain that we have not visited every single ice cream shop in Berlin. We have a few more days left so this is the ultimate goal. The group also went swimming in Wannsee. It was so fun and I would definitely go again. I have also gotten the chance to visit more museums and check out some cool art and all that jazz. The paintings were really interesting and I am actually thinking about painting one of them that I have posted in this blog. My last class is on Thursday and I think Humboldt is arranging a little party for the students to say goodbye. Whooooo party!!! Welp, that’s it for now until my next blog… I promise it will be soon.
Here we go, three weeks into the Humboldt University half of the course and I’m still falling in love with this city every morning—usually with my news in German, which I’m picking up much easier after our language courses.
Wow, so much has happened since my last update, here’s a short timeline:
We traveled to Hamburg for a weekend, about one week after the conclusion of the G20 Conference and the city still showed signs of the conference & accompanying events. The broken windows and graffiti did not distract from the city as a whole, but rather reminded me that German cities—not just Berlin—are hubs for global affairs and domestic debate for the Eurozone.
Shipping and commerce capital of the Eurozone
Hamburg Town Hall
After returning from Hamburg, we began classes at Humboldt University and met an entirely new cohort of students. The past three weeks have been filled with classes and events, such as tours to the Bundeskanzleramt where Chancellor Angela Merkel has her office, cabinet meetings, and offices for support staff.
Bundeskanzleramt: Don’t let the ominous clouds fool you, this is one of the nicest office buildings I’ve ever seen
Cabinet Room at the Bundeskanzleramt
That brings us to now—where I’m exploring Berlin on foot, on bike, and on an amazing public transportation system. Next time I visit this easily-traversable city I’ll be sure to buy a bike for the entirety of my stay: there are bike lanes everywhere! Another Northwestern student on the program, John, bought a bike at the beginning of the trip and is still using it. Despite repairs and a flat tire, when he resells the bike it will have ended up being cheaper than a rental.
Besides the beauty of downtown Berlin, there is just as much fun to be had away from the city. Schwimmbad Wannsee is a ~short~ 9 mile bike ride from our hotel (it’s a wide city), and the regal castles and palaces of Potsdam make a pleasant day trip for the casual explorer.
Schwimmbad Wannsee—and it has a waterslide!
Despite all that I’ve done and will do in our final week here (only seven days left?!?), I know there is too much to accomplish here in one week. I’ll try to make my list of regrets as short as possible, but that will serve as a to-do list if I get the chance to return to this inspiring city.
Hello hello here we are with less than two weeks left of this summer in Berlin and I think I’m starting to get the whole typical summer-ending blues. Being in such a completely different place from what I am used to and initially knowing none of the language as well, I honestly was not really expecting to have become as attached as I have to this city. This summer has been a whole lot of things besides just an opportunity to take classes somewhere other than Evanston, and I think it may take me going back home and further processing it all in order to really relate all my impressions and experiences. But before then, I’m on a mission to savor my last few days in Berlin at my own pace–not trying to frantically rush in order to get every little thing done and see every last sight possible before leaving. Because at the end of the day, I’m really going to remember the slower moments rather than the hurried ones spent trying to run through every last museum exhibit or historical sight.
So the last few weeks have been pretty packed for me with classes and having two different NU friends come to visit me in Berlin from other summer study abroad programs within the span of a week. Honestly, it was really cool to actually feel like the expert as I explored my favorite spots again with people who really weren’t all that familiar with Berlin. Visiting places like Mauerpark, East Side Gallery, Kreuzberg, and even my favorite little gluten-free bakery/cafe right off the Eberswalder Straße U-Bahn stop, I felt less like a tourist and more like someone who knew their way around. That being said, living in Berlin for one summer hardly makes one a true Berliner, but I think it’s safe to say that I’ve found a rhythm to living here, and I’ll miss it when I’m gone.
showing my friend around my favorite spots in Berlin–this is one of my favorite views
cheesin at the East Side Gallery
ALSO PSA: I have found my absolute favorite little corner of Berlin ever ever ever, and I adore it so much that honestly if I could just pack it up and bring it with me back to the States I would. If you know me, you know that I have a #basic obsession with coffee shops and all things coffee-culture. Well, to all my fellow quality aesthetic coffee-shop lovers out there, I would like to let you all know that I have found perfection. Yesterday, I hoped on the U-Bahn to check out a new coffee shop recommendation for an afternoon of class-reading, photo editing, and chilling (I only got to the last two oops). I got off at the Karl-Marx Straße station in Neukölln, headed down the street and around the corner till I found it, and I was obsessed at first sight. This absolutely gorgeous coffee spot doubles as an art gallery and creative space. The current exhibition shows beautifully stunning photography by exclusively female photographer’s and is titled “Girlz Who Shoot”. At the far end of the cafe also stands a small stage where live music and performances are held regularly in the evenings when the cafe transforms from a coffee shop/work-space into a super hip and chill bar. The entire spot has the classic vintage aesthetic really going for it, complete with hand-written chalkboard coffee menus and fresh wildflowers placed on little antique looking tables. Prachtwerk is definitely my far one of the prettiest little places I have ever seen, and you’d better believe that I’ll be back tomorrow. Lol this post just became an advertisement for Prachtwerk cafe and I’m not even sorry–catch me here during the next two weeks, soaking up my last few moments of this Berlin life! That’s all for now~~
my happy place
Hey hey coming at you live from officially the second half of this wild ride called study abroad! This week it really hit me that I’ve been in Berlin for over a month, and I was actually kinda impressed with the progress us NU kids have made. For the most part, I’ve gotten pretty good at tackling the public transportation here (minus that time yesterday when Alex and I took the wrong train back from Alexanderplatz and ended up 100 years away from the hotel with our arms completely full of very heavy groceries… just ignore that…), I’ve learned not to walk in the bike lanes lest I risk getting flattened by the packs of slightly intimidating bikers, and despite having a not-so-wonderful sense of direction, I kinda know my way around some of central Berlin pretty well too. Definitely would not call myself a real seasoned Berliner, but hey it’s pretty nice not to feel like such a helpless newbie anymore!
Also, this week began the new courses at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (Humboldt University of Berlin), and I am PUMPED about it. On Monday we had orientation and a welcome session where we got to meet some of the other students participating in the summer program at Humboldt and also tour some of the campus and see where our classes would take place. As I wandered into the big meeting room with my name tag pasted to my chest and made a beeline for the free coffee table through the bunches of small-talking students, I got very strong “first day of school” vibes. “First day” scenarios are not always my favorite, with the cyclical repetition of answers to the typical name-major-college-hometown questions, but within the first few moments of arriving at the orientation I found myself getting actually pretty excited to get to know some of my new classmates/program-mates. It was fascinating to connect over areas of study or even familial ethnic background with students who lived across the globe from me and to learn what we had in common and in difference. I am also thrilled to be taking classes within the Humboldt campus because it’s in such a central location–literally a stone’s throw away from the Berliner Dom, around the corner from Alexanderplatz, and a stroll over from Hackescher Markt. Together with the river, bridges, museums, T.V. tower, and little shops and markets, it’s really the most Berlin-idyllic location and I am LIVING for it. Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin is also one of Berlin’s oldest universities and is associated with 40 Nobel Prize winners and some brilliant lecturers, including Albert Einstein, Karl Marx, and Georg Hegel, so I’m a little bit starstruck about taking classes here myself.
I am enrolled in two courses for session II of the Humboldt summer program, a German language course and an Anthropology/Culture course titled “Interreligious and Intercultural Dilaogue in Germany; Interrogating Memory and Migration” (lil bit of a mouthful). I am miraculously not 100% lost in my new language class, despite not knowing a word of German before June (shoutout to my wonderful incredible amazing 101 session 1 teacher Wiebke you rock). And today I began my Interreligous and Intercultural Dialogue course. I’m interested to see how it plays out and what I learn through the course in the next few weeks
So that’s all from me for now! I’ll let you know how my classes turn out and about any cool new sites I get to visit. Catch ya later~~
views from across the bridge from the Humboldt Theology Dept. building where I take all my classes (the building with the red roof tiles)
I have officially made it through the first half of the summer abroad program in Berlin. I am just going to ramble about a bunch of things so stay with me here. So far, my experience has been amazing. It is so cool to be across the world and engaging in the German culture. The buildings are beautiful and everything looks so glorious. I LOVE DÖNER. For those of you that don’t know, Döner is a Turkish delight that is extremely popular in Germany. I could eat about 5 a day disregarding what it will do to my health, but at this point who cares. There are also tons of little bakeries that have bunch of pastries and coffee. I faithfully go to one everyday and get a different pastry each time which is fine because I deserve it! Anyways, we have been on a million different tours (I should have worn good walking shoes for some) and each one has taught me something new about Berlin. The most interesting part of Berlin is on the East. It is filled with young adults, artists, and has so much urban history it’s pretty cool. Now…the schoolwork is a little overwhelming especially when you have a busy schedule filled with tours, excursions, and essays due. The classes are pretty short and I had an amazing German teacher (shout out to Wiebke B. you the best). I am slowing learning how to shop in German grocery stores without help, order food, and ask for directions. I have somehow managed to complete everything with my best effort and still enjoy the perks of being in Berlin. We went to Postdam on a castles tour and let me tell you, castles are just….omg they are so pretty. The castles scream history and they are huge! Postdam is a charming and quaint city. It was nice to get out the city for a minute and enjoy other parts of Germany.
Also…WHY OH WHY…do I have to pay for water in Germany? I caught off guard when I was eating in a restaurant and ordered a glass of water because they charged me for it. Lol I was in shock. I was like “wow”. Another also, you have to pay to use the restroom so I was a little depressed for like a week when I realized all of my small change that goes towards ice cream cones had to go towards using the bathroom. Lesson of the summer…don’t drink water and stay dehydrated so you don’t have to use the bathroom and can get ice cream. Yup, I live by this. We are about to start the Humboldt University classes tomorrow and I am very excited. Stay tuned for my next update!
Coming at ya from week !FOUR! of this summer in Berlin! And what a packed and busy few weeks it has been. Since I first arrived in Berlin, I’ve explored and toured more museums than I can count, consumed more ice cream than I probably should admit, and walked (at least what it feels like) all up and down and over this city–and I know I’ve barely even scratched the surface. Coming into this with zero former German language experience has been challenging, to say the least. However thanks to an incredibly patient and incredibly thorough 101 teacher, I’ve been able to score some small victories, like going grocery shopping on my own or ordering my own coffee! Baby steps! In all seriousness though, I honestly think that my greatest challenge in learning the language is getting over my own insecurities and fear of just going for it. Too often I let my own embarrassment about my pronunciation or my fear that I’ll just sound dumb get in the way of just trying to speak the little German I have learned. SO, new goal for the summer: to get over that fear and make a real effort to take some risks and ~just do it~. Because hey if I’m being honest, I’m never gonna learn unless I try!
Language fumblings aside, living in Berlin has been a trip all on its own with so many new things to take in every day. But I think my favorite part of this summer so far has to be last weekend’s trip away to Weimar. After a couple of pretty intense weeks, I was ready to take a breather from the hustle bustle of Berlin out into a more lowkey location. I literally couldn’t peel my eyes away from the window of the train as we zipped through the country side past tiny towns with even tinier garden houses and fields of the most gorgeous sunflowers. And Weimar itself was just lovely–like a scene taken straight out of a European travel catalogue with its painted terrace houses and cobble stone streets. And of course I loved it also because of all the ice cream involved (3 cones on Sunday in fact and I have no shame about it). The little city is also chock full of history and importance, from being a home to both Goethe and Schiller to also being one of Adolf Hitler’s favorite places to visit. But for me it provided an opportunity to kind of take a step back from all the whirlwind of these first few weeks and realize like WOW I’m in Germany, and that’s pretty incredible! I’m a bit overwhelmed, but I’m also learning and seeing and experiencing so much, and I wouldn’t trade any of it! As the first half of the program and the Northwestern classes begin to come to a close, I am looking forward with excitement to take on my new Humboldt classes and for the next five weeks of adventures in Berlin.
(Written in the St. Oberholz with an Augustiner pilsner and a faint experimental-electronic-type soundtrack :OR: The most “Berlin” situation I have been in all week)
One of the goals I set at the beginning of this trip was to read most of my news—if not all—in German. Luckily, our hotel has a few daily newspapers [Zeitungen] available to read after 11:00 AM. These cover everything from local (Berlin), national (Germany), international and world news (um…everyone else). I still use my Twitter account for breaking news, so I’ve added Der Spiegel and Berliner Morgenpost to my Twitter feed to mix with my updates from Amiland [America].
About two sentences into reading the first article, I realized I didn’t have the vocabulary necessary to understand German journalism, and I still find myself reaching for my digital phrasebook quite often. Tomorrow I’m going to start keeping lists of these words, because some of them come up quite often while others are dangerously specific. For example, “Weltschmerz”—literally translated as ‘world-pain’—was used to describe something said in an interview about the legacy of Helmut Kohl.
This past week, we went on multiple tours so current events were one of the main topics that we discussed with our tour guides. Besides the upcoming G20 Summit in Hamburg, the passing of gay marriage in Germany and Donald Trump’s tweets dominated conversation. We toured Berlin’s memorials, the Reichstag, and some parks in Potsdam—including Cecilienhof, where the Potsdam Conference was held after WWII between the USSR, USA, and UK.
Joseph Stalin’s idea of a joke
Overall, the last two weeks in Berlin have been busier than I imagined, yet I’m keeping up with my goals and courses while exploring greater Berlin.
Until next time,
Hey guys! My name is Alex and I am officially a junior at NU. I am a Legal Studies major born and raised in Los Angeles, California. My job here is to update you all summer long with a bunch of interesting stuff from overseas. So here goes my first post lol.
I am filled with excitement as I prepare to study abroad in Berlin, Germany. This is very scary for me and something very new, but I am pretty sure I am going to benefit from it. For starters, getting your personal items together is very stressful like insurance, medical check-ups, funds, and packing. I had about three different doctors appointments in one day because I have a dad who cares deeply about my health. I already know I am going to have troubles coming back because my luggage was already over the 50lb limit which is fine because I have a numerous amount of clothing options. Now that it is really hitting me that I will be in another country, I cannot help but to think what a German is going to say when I pull out my German-English dictionary and awkwardly walk around like a tourist. I will try my best to avoid that, but at this point I only know basic words even though I am positive my German vocabulary will expand along the way. I have received many mixed opinions about going to this foreign land. Some are worried for me while others are very excited. The main debate that is always up in the air for me is “How will you be treated as an American?”. I honestly think I will be fine, I have nothing but respect for the culture and I have a genuine interest in learning more about the people and the wonderful country that I am in.
I have a few friends and family who have been to Berlin. They suggested a couple of restaurants and “tourist” attractions. I am finally realizing that I will be away from home for two months in another country which is way different from being away from home in the SAME country. But, a cliche as this sounds, it is a one in a lifetime chance. The experience and exposure is going to be grand!
I have to adapt to the culture and hopefully adopt it as well.
Hey hey! My name’s Laura Hernandez and welcome to my (soon-to-be) Berlin study abroad blog posts! I promise sporadic but hopefully ~fun and cool~ updates all. summer. long. so stay tuned because the best is yet to come!
So a little about me: I’m a rising Junior (what when did that happen) at Northwestern majoring in English Lit and Cultural Anthropology and recently also added a minor in International Studies. I’m originally from right outside of Philly, but on the New Jersey side, and I get aggressive about defending my home state so pls no dirty Jersey or Jersey Shore jokes, thanks. I have two brothers and two sisters who are the loves of my life and who I miss terribly when I’m at school–and I’ll miss them all for sure this summer too!
Full disclosure, I know next to no German, and I am leaving for Berlin in TWO days. Am I freaked out by that? A little. Do I know how this summer is about to go down in a country I’ve never been to and a language I don’t even know? Absolutely not. But let me tell you I am ready for the challenge. I have wanted to study abroad ever since middle school, and now that dream is actually happening, so that’s unreal. Berlin is such a rich city for art, literature, music, history, and so so much more and I am incredibly pumped to get to experience it all in just a few days. It is such a cliche to say that study abroad is one of the top life-changing experiences a student can have, but lately I’ve been really focusing on that and knowing that it’s about to become my cliche reality too, and I couldn’t be more excited. That being said, I should probably start packing soon and getting my life together. Feeling lowkey nervous but highkey thrilled about getting this thing started! Until next time, friends!
(p.s. I’m the one cheesing on the far right in the black NU cap yay go ‘Cats)
As I prepare to head to the airport, I go through my luggage for what must be the twentieth time.
Not pictured: day pack filled with other essentials & my traveling clothes\
While I’m beyond excited to study and explore Berlin, I’m terrified that I’ll either bring too much (and be stuck schlepping extra weight around Germany) or too little (and add an unexpected expense to an already expensive trip). My clothing choices will give me dozens of outfit options each day, and two pairs of walking shoes keeps me under my 15kg checked bag limit as well as showcasing my personality—is that important? I read somewhere that that’s important—that clothing is a source of pride, or individuality, or both, or something. Was it a guidebook? Maybe. A student at the orientation?
I might be overthinking this.
My flight leaves a few days earlier than the program’s start date, giving me time to get familiar with the city and comfortable with the culture. Still, I’m preparing for the waves of embarrassment that I’m sure are coming when asked a question in German and I must politely ask for an English translation. Honestly, I’m not so anxious about my language skills as I am about coming across as a stereotypical American student. Not that I’m ashamed of my nationality by any means, but I want to be able to fit in for a few minutes at a time. Even if I can’t pass as a native Berliner, I want people to be curious about where I’m from and why I’m interested in the place they call home.
Having mentioned the program to friends and coworkers, I now have suggestions for places to eat, drink, sleep, and explore—more than I could ever cover in a few months. If I manage to find any free time between the robust, fast-paced programming offered through NU IPD (via Humboldt University of Berlin) my intention is to begin working on this list; yet, I’m going to save a few experiences as excuses to return on future trips.
My expectations are based on secondhand sources and popular accounts of what is in store for the next few months, but firsthand experience could shatter all these expectations: I’m prepared to be flexible and fully embrace all that this global city has to offer.