Hi Everyone! It’s been quite a while since I last posted (in fact, more than a week). It’s been a LONG week that felt like it was an eternity.
I arrived here in Berlin, Germany, last Saturday the 22nd of September. The flight was pretty nice — I had exit row seats the entire, which were very comfortable. With the exception of a very loud screaming toddler, the flight would have been perfect. I had two stop-overs: Toronto and Düsseldorf. When I finally got to Berlin, I got very confused by the setup of Tegel Airport (which used to serve all of West Berlin). The airport is set up so that each gate has its own baggage claim, and no central location. It took my some time to find a taxi, but I did.
The taxi ride was fun — I got the driver to go down the big streets on the way to our apartments, and we went by the Soviet Memorial, the Brandenburg Gate, the Holocaust Memorial, the Berliner Dom, Friedrichstrasse, and Humboldt University (of course).
When I got to the apartments, I called up Sebastian – the local co-ordinator who is awesome – and met my first of two roommates, Jen. The apartment is very nice – brand new hardwood floors were installed and the whole place painted just before we arrived. The only downside is the construction work that started right before we got here. But coming from UW, that’s something I’m used to, so oh well!
Sunday September 23, 2012:
Since there were no bare necessities in the apartments (think soap, food, etc), Shelby & Jen & I decided to head out and shop. But, it being Sunday, everything was closed. So we headed to Hauptbahnhof (Main Train Station), where there are open stores every single day. We had breakfast in the Subway station (it was REALLY good), and got our stuff at Hauptbahnhof.
Next mission: FIND WIFI. This is a LOT harder than in the USA. We finally got to a Starbucks right by the Brandenburg Gate — with the most amazing view. Standing in line, I met a Swedish man working in Sofia, Bulgaria on business in Berlin and a fellow Humboldt University student. This was my first taste of the diverse and international Berlin that we have been discussing in our classwork.
We had a group dinner at Clärchen’s Ballhaus — I had my first legitimate schitzel since I left Vienna when I was 12. It was a good day 🙂
Monday, September 24, 2012
After touring our immediate neighborhood of Mitte/Kreuzberg — which used to be right along the Berlin Wall — with our course associate Manuela, we caught the U-Bahn to Friedrichstraße with Sebastian. We had a yummy and cheaply subsidized lunch at the Humboldt Mensa (cafeteria). We then had a tour of the Spree River — so beautiful! We saw the Pergammon Museum, the Reichstag, and many other Berlin sights from that fascinating vantage point.
Friday, September 28, 2012 Classes are getting going, and everybody (incl. me) is adjusting to life in Berlin. On Thursday I took my placement test at Goethe Institut for placement into a certification prep course. I’ll be doing the B2 Certificate exam. I was super tired, so I headed home and promptly fell asleep. Saturday, September 29, 2012 Still exhausted!! Spent 6 hours in class at the Goethe Institut on Neuschönhauserstraße, which is in a lively part of town — right next to the Haakescher Markt U-Bahn station. I got around without using any maps at all!