Friday, September 5, 2014

Ramblings From Berlin: First Week Of Classes

Hello, everyone!

I still don’t have Wi-Fi in my apartment, so updating my blog regularly while abroad isn’t working out so well. I never realized how dependent I am on Wi-Fi until I was forced to live without it. I can’t call my parents, text my boyfriend, check my e-mail, update Facebook, look at the weather, search for directions... That, combined with the tiny call-and-text-only phone I bought that looks like a complete flashback from 2002, means I’m completely tuned out to the world right now. I signed up for an international phone plan while abroad, but I only get 100 megabytes of data. That’s nothing! As you can probably guess, I’m saving those precious megabytes for emergencies only.

My study abroad experience in Berlin has still been amazing! I just completed my first week of classes. The way my schedule works out, I have three separate three-hour classes on Monday (intermediate/advanced German language, German history, German Cinema), which means I’m on campus from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. But although my Mondays will require lots of coffee and motivation, I’m done with class at noon on Tuesday­–Thursday. No class on Friday! Since I’m enrolled in a program designed for American students, the amount of homework and the difficulty of classes is nearly the same. I’m determined to use my extra time to explore Berlin and Europe.  

Besides starting class and making new friends, my week has been mellow. I went on a group field trip earlier today to Sachsenhausen, a former concentration camp that housed thousands of Jewish and political prisoners during World War II and the Holocaust. I’ve never been to a concentration camp before, and the experience was emotionally intense. Seeing the actual location of such traumatic events first-hand is definitely different than reading textbooks or visiting a museum. Even so, I’m glad I got to visit the concentration camp and try to wrap my mind around the history that happened there.  

Since this post is basically a random string of thoughts about my time in Germany thus far, I think I should ramble a bit about grocery shopping here. Since I studied German for seven years and learned lots of food vocabulary, I was expecting grocery shopping to be easy. Wrong. The first time I went to the local Aldi, I didn't recognize a single food brand and couldn't find half of the items I was looking for. Eggs were unrefrigerated and milk was sold in cardboard boxes. I couldn’t read any of the food labels and didn't really know what I was buying… I ended up with “bread noodle balls” and some interesting cheese. I had to pay 10 cents for every shopping bag I used, and I even had to put money into the grocery carts. My new friends and I were completely overwhelmed and culture shocked. Fortunately, shopping is easier now that I know what to expect. Every time I head to the market, I’ve been picking up a few German hard rolls to eat with salami and liverwurst. I’m completely in love with German bread… let’s just hope all of the walking I’ve done will keep the carbs from catching up with me!