I’ve posted a lot about my travels lately, because I’ve had the opportunity to go to so many amazing countries. But Berlin is not to be overlooked! Each place I go in Berlin is so unique.
For example, a few weeks ago I was able to tour the Olympic Stadium of Berlin. Like most things in Berlin, it has a deep history as it was build by the Nazis for the infamous 1936 Summer Olympics games where Jesse Owens dominated with four gold medals. It now hosts Hertha BSC, Berlin’s soccer team, and in 2006 it underwent massive renovation in order to host the 2006 FIFA World Cup, making it a state-of-the-art facility. The tour was a lot of fun as they took us through the whole place including the VIP rooms and locker rooms.
Another very cool place I went, this time with my sustainability class, was a rooftop “cultural garden” called Klunkerkranich. It was started by a small group of citizens who rented out parking spaces on the roof of a garage because they weren’t being used (due to the massive popularity of public transportation in Berlin) and they saw an opportunity to create something cool and fun. Klunkerkranich is an urban garden, but it’s also much more than that. Members of the community can request a space to plant, and they can pretty much grow whatever they want which has resulted in a huge and random variety of plant life. It’s also a place to enjoy good weather and hang out with friends. They’ve built a bar and a makeshift stage for musical performances. They also host a lot of events for the community. It’s all about having a public space for people to do whatever they want. I’ll definitely be going back when the weather gets a little warmer. It was awesome to go here because I’ve never seen anything like it before in the U.S. Here’s some photos I took while there (click to enlarge):
Here’s a photo of what it might look like in the warm weather where up to 300 people can enjoy the rooftop 🙂
As you can see, Klunkerkranich provided some great views of the city. Another day, I got some more great views from the top of the Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral):
In more recent news, this past weekend I participated in a homestay for two nights in order to experience a little bit of integration into a German community. CIEE found a lot of untraditional homestay options for us (not just families). For example, I was paired with a 35 year old woman (and her boyfriend) which turned out to be such an incredible experience. She was extremely friendly and we had a lot of fun together. I’d describe it as a homestay with an older sister. I was really able to see what daily life is like for a true Berliner. On Saturday, a good friend of hers was moving apartments which is a big process in Berlin. It was also a time where all of their friends got together to help and then celebrated with food and drinks after. It was actually perfect because I got to help which I felt very appreciated for, and I got to meet a ton of her friends all at once.
I thought I had escaped some of the current crazy politics of America, but a fun fact is that Germans absolutely love to discuss American politics. But in the end, this gave me a lot of valuable knowledge about the difference between the systems of Germany and America. Over the course of the weekend I also gained a much deeper insight into the culture of Berlin. For example, I learned that Berlin is truly the city of signals. My host, Ayalet, told me how her parent’s generation is confused with the state of their children’s generation because many of them do not get married until a late age and many don’t have children. And I definitely saw this because out of Ayalet’s ten friends that helped with the move, only one was married and had a children, which is a stark contrast to the U.S. where there’s definitely pressure to get married not too long after college and have children at as young of an age as possible. In the end though, I’m not at all surprised by the way it is in Berlin, because the city constantly gives me the impression that people do whatever they want with their lives and don’t care about societal norms or pressure (it’s a great feeling to be a part of).
In final news, I was able cast a vote for the democratic primary, all the way from Germany! There is a network called Democrats Abroad which has a certain amount of delegates assigned to then (21), so it was basically like voting in the primary of a small state.
Thanks for reading, I’m definitely missing everyone back in the U.S. 🙂