Passing Time, Viewing History
Andrew Lee, NU in Berlin, Summer 2014
I have now officially finished my first two weeks of classes abroad in Berlin! I have already learned so much history and context of Berlin and Germany as a whole. I can feel my German improving as well! I love how integrated and immersive all of our classes are. So far, we have visited many of the neighborhoods of Berlin and some of Berlin’s historical sites. In class, we have extensively discussed the unusually heterogeneous styles of the architecture. The contrast between buildings like the Berliner Dom and the Fernsehturm within such close proximity is something to experience. Berlin has such an eclectic atmosphere that I have yet to discover in any other major city.
We have also talked about the gentrification that has taken place over the years, especially in Prenzlauer Berg. We were lucky enough to be guided through this neighborhood by a man who actually lived in Prenzlauer Berg before gentrification of the buildings began. Earlier in the program, we were guided through Kreuzberg by a woman who has lived there her whole life. It is such a treat to be able to see Berlin through the lens of Berliners.
The World Cup has been such a huge part of the culture here in Berlin. After Germany won one of the games, we saw so many cars with German flags honking and cheering for their country. It is quite interesting to see this shift in patriotism because we have learned in class about how after World War II and during the Cold War, the German flag and its colors were almost nonexistent in everyday culture. It was a dynamic that was largely caused by the shame of the Nazi party and its reflection of the German people. I am incredibly excited that I am able to experience this shift in patriotism firsthand.
Berlin has so much to offer. Whether it be the delicious food or the fantastic sites, I always feel as though I am learning something new everyday. Last night, I had the opportunity to hear the Berliner Philharmoniker in a huge outdoor venue. The music was so gorgeous and breathtaking. I have been pinching myself everyday because I feel so lucky to be surrounded by such excellent art and culture.