Monday, September 1, 2014

I'm Back! And Full Of Bratwurst

It’s been a solid week since my last blog post, but I have a pretty legitimate excuse: I haven’t had Wi-Fi! When I arrived in Berlin for my semester abroad last Monday, I had every intention of writing posts about my first week in Germany. Unfortunately, the Wi-Fi in my apartment complex has been a little sketchy and none of the residents have been able to access the Internet. I’ve had to trek down the street to McDonald’s for the two-hour free WiFi in order to Skype with my friends and family back home. Hopefully I’ll get back to regular blogging as soon as possible.

My time abroad has been great so far! I was full of nerves when I first arrived on the Freie Universit├Ąt campus early this week; being alone in a foreign country thousands of miles from home can really trigger some anxiety. I met some great people within minutes of arriving at orientation, which really made the whole experience more manageable since I had people to grocery shop and eat a pizza dinner with (we were ready to bring on the bratwurst and potatoes, but our apartments are isolated and we had to choose between pizza or taking a bus further into town).

The next few days were all about exploring Berlin. The 150-student program was split into groups, and we took a beautiful boat tour through Charlottenberg and a walking tour through the historic center of Berlin. I’ve been to Berlin before, but the fascinating history and beautiful architecture are still breathtaking. I saw the Brandenburg Gate, Hitler’s old bunker, the Chancellor’s office, the Berlin Wall, majestic old cathedrals, and an ancient royal castle in one day.

Of course, I got my first taste of Berlin’s impressive nightlife. People are very serious about their pubs and clubs in this city. Apparently clubs don’t start filling up until well after midnight, and people sometimes party until 1 p.m. the following day! The beer culture is also huge here; people are holding beer bottles at all times of the day on the trains, on the streets, on bikes. One of my orientation events was actually doing a pub-crawl with the study abroad program assistants! While I haven’t checked out any clubs yet due to an unfortunate event involving a stolen wallet (more about that in another blog post), I got to visit some nice pubs.

My classes start today, and I’m extremely excited. My courses focus on German language, German cinema, and European history. I have an extremely easy schedule, with three-day weekends and no class after noon any day except for Monday. I’m going to have loads of time to explore Berlin and the rest of Europe, hopefully starting with a trip to Dresden or Heidelberg next weekend with some friends. I’m extremely lucky for this incredible experience!