As most of you should already know if you keep up with my somewhat weekly announcements, the group and I headed off to Berlin this last weekend. We all left by private bus at approximately 8:45 Thursday morning for a 6 hour bus trip. We arrived at the lovely Heart of Gold Hostel of which we were staying in for the weekend. Since my friend Jacob is studying there for the year, I decided to meet up with him at the S-Bahn station right at the corner near the hostel. He took Stewart and I to the Brandenburger Tor for there was a concert and the world’s largest karaoke show going on then. We stayed there for most of the night and had a couple drinks afterward. The next day, my group and I went on a 3 hour bus tour of the city. Berlin has much history to it. We saw sights such as Checkpoint Charlie, the East Side Gallery, Brandenburger Gate, etc. There was much to see within that three hours. After lunch, we all went to the Berlin Hohenschonhausen, the Stasi Jail in town. Total disturbing what some of the people had to go through inside this jail. Anyways after that, I met up with Jacob again as we did some bar-hopping before we headed into a party. Unfortunately, we didn’t make our way there that night considering we got lost finding our way there. Let’s just say the constructions on the rails wasn’t really working in our favor, so we instead just strolled around the city for a while. The next day (Saturday in case you lost track), our group explored the Deutscher Budestag, or Capitol Building. Much different than the one in America. Throughout the afternoon, I explored a WWII museum and visited the Holocaust Memorial with a group of people. Being there gave me a bit of a sense of discomfort, but the tour guide said that was the designers intent. Well, he did a good job at that. Jacob, of course, met us there at the Holocaust Memorial, and joined us for dinner. After dinner though, he headed back to his place while some from our group and I headed to a popular club in Berlin: E4. I must say, it was pretty nice having VIP access with a group of good friends for 6 hours. That, my friends, is how you party. It was a blast even if I didn’t get back to the Hostel until 5:30. I didn’t care. I had plenty of time to sleep on the bus on the way back… all 8 hours of it.
It’s been an amazing first couple of days within this beautiful city with some wonderful people. Yesterday, we all had to participate in a German language exam in order to figure out what classes we should be in for the upcoming weeks. The written test was a breeze, but the speaking was another story. I got possibly some of the most challenging questions of the group (what am I suppose to say to someone when they say the phrase, “the beginning is hard?” What’s hard? What do you mean?). Fortunately, I feel confident enough that I passed elementary German! (let’s hope! Been studying it for two years.) Afterwards, we just took a stroll to the mess hall, bought a SIM card to call and text people in Germany, filled out some paperwork (fun) and just kinda hung around with people until the welcome party (which really wasn’t much of a party, so we thought we’d make are own by grabbing a few drinks at the Dungeon staying up til 3 in the morning. The next day, we just filled out more paperwork for our student visas and took more strolls through the city sitting by the river and eventually ending up at the castle in town. It was certainly a sight to see. It’s amazing how buildings that old can still be standing today. It’s quite fascinating. Well, better get some sleep now considering I start language classes tomorrow. Wish me luck!