For years I wondered what it would be to live like in Europe. The connectivity of Europe now with the European Union makes this trip so easy and accessible. We just went to Berlin this weekend and I love the fact you can take a car ride or train approx. 7 hours to another country to experience a totally different culture, language, and way of life.

The Berlin TV tower.

Germany was fantastic, Berlin was breathtaking. The thing I noticed most about the city of Berlin was that it was a very artistic and diverse community. Of course, Berlin is much larger than Copenhagen and it showed when we traveled the rail system within the city. Throughout the city there is graffiti art and it always sparked positive artistry more than negative street connotations we experience in the US. It almost seemed as if the German people appreciated the work and didn't frustrated themselves with covering it up. Another thing that I noticed, and was briefly taught in my courses in the states, was that there wasn't an infatuation with keeping public grass areas green and manicured. Within the US the lawn concept is everywhere and it is unheard of here in Europe.

As for my Berlin experience, we arrived Friday evening before dinner and decided to prepare for the night ahead of us. We ate dinner and had happy hour at our hostel which was a decadent hostel (Generator Berlin). Compared to Copenhagen, Germany is much less expensive so we jumped at the opportunity to buy as much as we could. From happy hour, we went to the downtown area and met up with the rest of the summer students for a coordinated Pub Crawl throughout downtown Berlin. Overall, we went to 3 pubs and 2 nightclubs and it was amazing. Ultimately, I had to lead the troops back to our hostel around 3am because we had to wake up for our walking tour throughout Berlin at 8am. On the way back, we ran into our midnight meal (aka our Breakfast) at a local Kebab stand. All of us had either Falaffel or Doner Kebabs for only 2Euro.

In the morning, 100 summer students were hung over for the walking tour. Surprisingly, all I needed was a Red Bull to invigorate my adventurous journey throughout Berlin. Our tour guide was fantastic as we began at the Berlin Cathedral and ended at the Brandenburg Gate (the Statue of Liberty for Germans). We got to see many remodeled cathedrals, royal homes, and opera houses. Almost every building we saw was bombed in the war so most of them were rebuilt or renovated. The only building that was untouched during the war was the giant Air Force headquarters for the Nazi regime. It was believed that there was an unspoken agreement between the Air Force generals that neither England or Germany would bomb each others headquarters.
The Berlin Cathedral

Additionally, we walked over the former Berlin wall three times and got to see the remaining parts still standing in certain areas of the city. We visited Checkpoint Charlie, the Parliament building, and the Holocaust Memorial situated between the Parliament, the financial district, the Berlin wall, and the park. This was a fascinating memorial, designed by an American Jewish architect, and I interpreted it as an inverted cemetery (See the Picture). Throughout this tour, we were given Berlin, German, and European history with small additional comedic performances that really enhanced the tour.
The Holocaust Memorial

Post-tour, a group of students went to a local German restaurant recommended by the guide so we would experience the local fare. I had something that is called Kasespaetzle, a great German version of Mac n' Cheese. It was 10 times better because it had vegetables throughout the dish. The local beers, of course, were the best part of Germany and they had a wide selection that we could sample from at each bar we went to.

I took a nap after lunch and was ready to party once again. We went to a recommended Absinth Bar in uptown which was one of the highlights our second night. From there, we went to Weekend Club which is on the roof top of a 30 story building in Alexander Square. We stayed there till dawn to watch the sunrise and left for more Doner Kebab before the bus ride back to Denmark. Once we got on the bus from the night out, I slept until we arrived at Sachsenhausen Concetration Camp and Memorial site.Can you blame me? It needed to be done...

This was most intense and self-reflecting period I have ever had in my life. I toured the camp by myself so that I could experience everything in private, for me to re-touch my Jewish heritage. I got to see almost everything within our 2-hour alloted time frame. I walked through the Jewish barracks, the kitchen where they worked to prepare food, the roll call area, the infirmary, the execution trench, the crematorium, the watch tower, and the prision. I thought the prision was kind of ironic, but then realized the hatred and fear the Nazi's instilled into the Jews with a secured and walled prision within their giant walled prison. What was definatly interesting was the German welcoming words on the intrance gate once arriving, "Arbeit Macht Frei" (Work will set you free). It was said that in Sachsenhausen, more Jews died of malnutrition, freezing, and over-working than by execution or cremation. I am glad I saw it and got to experience a Camp finally, but felt depressed, angry, afraid, and complete sadness throughout my time and once I left. I probably will never visit another one again in my life.

The Execution Trench

I am now back in Copenhagen going to class and enjoying my new friends and times. I am scheduled to be in Oslo, Norway this coming weekend so look for the new blog installment sometime next week. You can always e-mail or comment on each posting I make if you every feel the desire. Best wishes and Cheers!
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