Just like European politics and the current world order, the agenda of the EU Study Abroad Program is ever-changing. We voted as a group to change the date of the simulation, that was originally scheduled for today, to take place in Paris. The postponement allows for us to have a free day in Berlin. The day, however, would remain just as busy and educational. Since we only have a week in Berlin there is so much to do. My advice to anyone trying to see as much of a city in a certain amount go time is to look up an itinerary online according to how long you have. It will create an efficient schedule based on proximity, high-traffic times, and importance. Since rain looms in tomorrow’s forecast, I wanted to do all of the outside attractions.
First up on the list was to travel to the East Side Gallery. It is a long expanse of the Berlin Wall on the Soviet-controlled side that has been preserved and transformed into an art exhibit. Most of the art is symbolic of a warrant as to why the wall was such an awful idea. Hands of peace, people flowing out of the wall as soon as they were reunified, and the infamous kiss of brotherhood are just a few of the murals that are featured on the wall. It was, also, impactful to see the small placards on the ground where people were killed trying to cross over the wall to escape to democracy. It was not just young adults; it was entire families. This really struck me because conditions have to completely atrocious in order for a mother to risk her children’s lives.
We then traversed our way over by S-Bahn to see East Berlin’s “pride and joy,” the TV tower at Alexander Platz. It was such a modern peak in the bland East Berlin skyline. Kids were I was jumping on trampolines happily with my brand new pair of Birkenstocks, it was hard to imagine that this place used to be under such oppression. I think that was the hardest concept for me to wrap my head around in Berlin. This city that appears completely gentrified and modern, has such a deep history. An art exhibit in the Jewish Museum displays it perfectly. Everywhere you walk in Berlin has been walked on by billions of others: Hitler, other Nazis, Soviets, people being sent to concentration camps who were murdered, and modern normal citizens. You see it when you are casually walking on the street and you can see bullet holes in the walls, parts of churches blown off, statues missing their ligaments. We have seen such evidence of history in other cities before, but the majority of historic buildings in those cities have been preserved, Berlin had a lot rebuilding to do.
We then walked towards the museum island. As a museum nerd, I was beyond excited that there was an entire island dedicated to just museums. We chose to go to the Kunst museum that had a special exhibit dedicated especially to ‘Wanderlust’. Each piece of art has to have at least one ‘traveler’ or ‘wanderer’ featured in it. I think this sums up the program nicely. Personally, this is the largest amount of traveling and experience of culture, I have ever done. As much as I have tried to see the most I could in every city that we visit, there is no possible way that it will be my last time in that city.
A quote from Friedrich states, “On the beach, walking deep in thought, is a man in a black robe. Gulls circle him anxiously as if to warn him not to venture out on the rough sea. And if you pondered from morning to evening, from evening to the sinking dead of night, you would still not comprehend, not fathom the inscrutable Beyond.” If I may, I wish to divulge upon you my interpretation of this quote as it relates to this program. The man deep in thought in the black robes are our students in professional attire deep in thought. The gulls are all of the looming conflicts in the world that we learned about during our site visits; these conflicts could seem like too much to handle at times. It is hard to discern looking at the future if this could be a suitable career path because even if you spend ten hours or more a day on such topics there still is not an evident solution. Nevertheless, this program has made me realize that I can not wait to ‘wander’ further around the world of international relations.