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  • Writer's pictureMaiya Focht

Week five- From Berlin with Love

Updated: Feb 26, 2020

This week featured a mounting level of stress due to homework assignments, a trip to Berlin, and my favorite commercially created holiday- Valentines Day.

On Thursday afternoon my six friends and I all gathered our belongings and made the trek out to London Stansted airport. It was my first time doing business with Europes lovely discount airline, RyanAir. Boy, was that a bumpy ride (both physically and metaphorically). I don't think I've ever come nearer to vomiting on my neighbor, and considering the fact that the man next to me seemed rather angry and Slavic, I'm not sure that that would've gone over well. (fun fact: British folks call vomit chunder)

We landed in Cologne (as that was the cheaper flight option) and then set about the business of finding our overnight bus into Berlin. After a quick stop for some schnitzel and beer, a couple of panicked ticket switches, and a rather harrowing taxi ride around the German countryside, we made it safely to our bus.

The 8 hour journey that ensued was not for the faint of heart. Between the sauna-like temperatures, snoring neighbors, and the lack of sleep, we were nearly driven to insanity. And of course, when we finally did escape the bus, we were left stumbling around Berlin for the whole day until we were able to check into our hostel.

Bravely we pushed through our exhaustion and freezing bodies, as we decided to take a walking tour offered by our hostel. It ended up being quite the fascinating look into Berlin's culture of street art and its relationship with the political climate. I think it was the best way to see Berlin, and its not so distant history of division, as it truly was.

It is not a city necessarily conducive to skyline pictures or typical architectural tourism. But it is a city full of rich traditions of counter culture, rebellion, and authenticity that is quite a contrast to London's largely gentrified streets.

Eventually, our tired bones were laid to rest in our entirely pink, though not unsatisfactory, hostel room. Seriously, the whole thing looked like the inside of a pepto-bismol bottle. We woke ourselves up for a late dinner and some drinks at the hostel bar, and managed to make it out for a short trip to one of Berlin's infamous night clubs, Watergate. It was a short, but sweet night with friends.

Saturday marked a significant up-spike in group morale following the exhaustion of the day previous. We filled our bellies with delicious (though mysterious) German pastries and coffee and headed to the Berlin wall. After, we met up with our friend who is studying abroad in the area, and she took us to the Volkspark Friedrichshain, which is a large park not far from our hostel.

We interspersed the day with currywurst, döner kebabs, and, you guessed it, plenty of beer. Ah, German culture. To round out our night, we hopped around a couple local bars and then ended up on a decommissioned and refurbished passenger boat. Yes, a public bar, hosted on an old passenger boat. Germany is like a glitch in reality.

This glitch in the reality made coming back to London all the more relieving. As I stepped into the grimy, warm, briney air of the Underground, I couldn't help but do a little happy dance. It seems that leaving London made me realize how much it has begun to feel like home.

On the homework assignments, I was left with mounting stress due to the lack of a laptop. These days, nearly every assignment uses or requires internet access. While I did have a phone, the tiny keyboard it contains was not exactly conducive to writing 2000+ word essays. And though I'm all for a green revolution (woo paperless), I found myself missing the days of colorful handouts and handwritten essay booklets quite dearly.

My strife was finally resolved on Monday though, and I trekked out to the Apple Store to get my freshly patched up laptop. They had replaced the monitor, keyboard, and battery. So now I'm sat here typing on my beautiful Frankenstein of a machine, finally whole again.

Due to the apple store appointment and mountains of homework, I was once again unable to complete my Museum Monday expedition. Apologies for the let down.

In summation, Berlin is a hell of a town, and I am beginning to call London home. What an odd pair of phrases I am entirely blessed to be able to write.

Days left: 74

Places visited: Cologne, Germany; Berlin, Germany; Berlin Wall; Berlin Cathedral; Volkspark Friedrichshain; Kreuzberg; Alexanderplatz Square; Watergate;

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