Hi readers! It's been a while, and lots has happened in the month-ish since I last posted here. For starters, I took a trip to Denmark over the long weekend (October 3 is off because it's a national holiday) and spent time hanging out with my cousin, which was a lot of fun (also shoutout to his dog because fluffy things are hard to come by in Berlin).
I also attended the Reunification Day festivities on October 3 after getting back from the airport. There was a big festival going on by the Brandenburg gate, complete with pop-up shops, restaurants, kids games, and an enormous ferris wheel from which you could pretty much see all of the city.
More recently (today), I ventured out in the rain to see the East Side Gallery exhibition before the weather completely turns. I'm so glad that I went, because it's a beautiful art gallery to take in. I'll upload some photos here for y'all to take a look -- I think part of what is most interesting about the murals you see on the wall is when you take them in with the context of the time in which they were created, it gives you a new outlook on the fall of the wall... Each time from a different perspective.
I actually just got back to my dorm after spending a few hours out in the city taking in the Festival of Lights tonight -- which is a series of projections that are designed by an international collective of artists and then displayed on Berlin landmarks -- for example, the TV tower and the Berliner Dom.
Anyway, that's the rundown from me. More soon, Inshallah!
🎶I Didn't Plan It - Sarah Bareilles🎶
I know. Once again I am a remiss blogger, and for that I apologize sincerely. It has been a hectic few weeks in Berlin, but I have finally settled into a routine (and am pulling myself out of the illness that has been afflicting me for just over a week). My initial post was more of an introductory-check-out-this-cool-photo sort of affair, so here I will give a more complete summary of my life this semester.
I live in a complex in Kreuzberg, Berlin along with 39 other people from Northeastern (38 students, 2 international student advisors) and a good number of other study abroad students from assorted colleges. We take our classes either within the complex, or a short walk away at the annex of a local high school. This semester, my courseload includes 5 classes -- Holocaust Studies; Gender, Race, and Sexuality in Pop Culture; Berlin: Capital of the 20th Century; Politics of the European Union; and a 1 credit "Global Experience" course .
My days are usually free until about 1 in the afternoon, when classes and activities begin. I wish I could tell you about how productive I am in this time block, but the reality is that I use it mostly to sleep... Although occasionally I will go do laundry before everyone else wakes up.
We are responsible for cooking our own meals, which means that I've eaten a lot of pasta compilations (and that other people on my floor have been eating out almost every day at the kebab place down the street). To this end, the grocery stores are conveniently nearby -- as are several pharmacies and drugstores (convenient, because we've all been catching ill... likely from the low levels of hygiene in our communal kitchen).
Homework gets done whenever there is spare time, and we have a lot of programmed events, especially on weekends. On Sundays most stores are closed, so I have a list of museums and other places I'm hoping to go to.
Since the last time I posted, we've been all over the city. I took myself to the Botanical Gardens, we took a tour of the Reichstag, visited Potsdam, saw some of Berlin's famous museums, went to a local soccer game at the Olympic Stadium from 1936, etc.
I'm having a lot of fun here, and I think it's going to be very difficult to leave in December (although the way the weather is going downhill, who knows).
🎶Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You - Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons🎶
I have now lived in Berlin for approximately three days. It's not a tremendously long amount of time, but I can already feel myself settling into a rhythm here.
It has been a hectic few days since stepping off of the plane in Germany (although to be honest, the stress and confusion began long before then -- before we even boarded the plane, when there was confusion about our visas and readiness to fly at the Boston airport). We have sat through long hours of orientations, taken local and city tours, and begun our own exploration of the neighborhoods and areas around us. Although Germany is a unique country in its own right, I have managed to patch together a rudimentary understanding of its workings through my pre-existing knowledge of Polish culture and -- especially important to college students who are cooking for themselves -- grocery stores.
Today I purchased a backpack for myself from locally popular brand Herschel, as well as picking up some basic cooking ingredients. The program stops feeding us tomorrow, and the days (weeks?) of ramen noodle microwaving and going out for meals will begin. Beyond that, there is not much to report. Classes begin on Monday, and I am excited to start college.
Inshallah things continue to go well here -- I am looking forward to hopefully working with refugees during my time in Berlin. I will try to update soon with more news.
🎶Hi, Hey There, Hello - The Mowgli's🎶
Well, here we are again. T-10 days to hopping a plane out of the country, and I've once more begun to pack. At this point I think I can list stuffing suitcases as a skill on a résumé quite comfortably; in the last twelve hours, I have succesfully managed to get myself about 50% of the way packed -- based mainly off of a collection of lists I had pretyped over the summer.
As such, it seems to me that now is as good a time as any to offer up packing suggestions for those embarking on similar expeditions of their own -- be it a college study abroad or a full year (or more!) of immersion.
Probably the most important suggestion I can give you is to pack light. As anyone who's seen my suitcases can tell you, that's one tip I struggle to follow myself -- but something that I genuinely wish I was better at. At the very least, remember to leave yourself space in your luggage on the trip out. This way, you will have space in your bags for the multitude of assorted things you purchase for yourself over the course of your stay (because trust me, you will be buying things).
Another important thing to remember, especially when packing long-term, is to bring individual pieces rather than specific outfits. What this means is that instead of bringing a brightly patterned pair of pants that will only match with your one black t-shirt, you could bring a pair of solidly colored jeans which would be more versatile, and would provide a variety of outfit options. This strategy will help you keep your limited wardrobe fresh for the duration of your trip.
My third and final tip for travelers is to remember to pack for a well-rounded experience. Don't forget your passport and other security documentation while you're collecting your pumps and going-out clothes. On the same note, don't pack for only one type of weather. If you're staying for a month or more, chances are you will experience at least some mild variation in climate, and you'll want to be prepared. Always pack a rain shell just in case.
That's all I've got as far as general suggestions for packing -- but feel free to reach out to me if you have further questions (or need ideas for things like host family gifts if you're doing a homestay). Other than that, the next time you'll be hearing from me is after I set up in Berlin!
Safe travels, all!
🎶Follow Your Arrow - Kacey Musgraves🎶
First off, I'm so sorry for how late this post is; I dropped the ball a bit but now I'm back.
So I am officially on vacation from school, and will continue to be off for an undetermined amount of time (I really need to check in with the school about that). Naturally, as a high school junior, my first priority was college (actually, maybe that's not natural. But it's how my brain functions). In the last few days I've gone through the 2,200 American colleges listed in the College Board's 2015 guide, and selected 92 for further review. I read a book regarding criteria one should use for selecting schools as well as strategies for admission, and, of course, spent lots of time wasting away in front of my computer screen as I procrastinated everything productive for just a few more minutes.
But the holidays are rapidly approaching, and lately I've been swept up in a small storm of homesickness as I Skype and Snapchat and text almost everyone on my contacts list back home in the hopes of letting some of that residual sadness go.
Luckily, at least recently, we've had some scheduled activities to make it easier for us to let off some steam and do things together. Last week we went to a center for children with disabilities, and each of us was placed in a classroom to help out. My classroom was one of two "academic" ones, and I spent the morning helping children solve puzzles, draw using stencils, and reviewing how to write the alphabet. It was a truly incredible experience, especially given that this is the only such center in the area, maybe even in Oman.
And last night we went to help out at a bookstore - this has been a sort of ongoing project for us... We went two weeks ago as well. We've been sorting and stacking and stamping books for the shelves in order to help get the business up and running quickly.
It's all been lots of fun, and a nice distraction from the fact that Christmas is soon, and I am far from home.
🎶White Christmas - Bing Crosby🎶
Hi! My name is Karla Cox. This blog is a compilation of notes, thoughts, and photos from my travels around the world.