The One with a Happy Ending

January 6: It’s our first full day in Berlin! I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived here. I knew it was big and full of rich historical meaning, but how can one prepare for its actual cultural impact? The class went on a walking tour to explore some of the important sites of the city, as well as many Holocaust-oriented locations. These sites included, but not limited to, the Holocaust Memorial, the site of Hitler’s bunker, Brandenburg Gate, the Berlin Wall, the Roosevelt Plate. Unfortunately for me, I was sick that day, so my perceptions of the city were only as good as the reactions of my peers.

After the tour concluded, the class went to the Topography of Terror museum in the heart of the city. This museum’s content is exactly as it seems, focusing on the terror that was conducted during WWII. The history of the museum is interesting in itself. The location of the museum is the former headquarters of the Gestapo and the SS, adding to the emotional connection between their missions and actions. I also found it interesting that the museum is enclosed in a glass square building, but is surrounded by the grungy ruins of the headquarters. They did this on purpose to not glorify the meaning of the site, but remind the public of its terrorizing history.

I was pretty upset that I wasn’t able to go on the tour. Truth be told, if I did spend the entire day outside is the sleety cold weather, I probably would have been worse-off. I felt fine after a few hours of sleep, so what better thing to do than people watch?! I sat in the lobby and pretended to read a book while observing how Germans behave.

No, this is not creepy. It’s a cultural study.

I immediately noticed that those in the lobby were staring at me while I was sitting in the corner reading my book, as if it is not customary to read in that sort of environment. The bartender soon approached me and offered to make me a drink, however when I politely declined his offering, he gave a small snort and walked away looking annoyed. This is when it started to sink-in that Berlin was going to be much different than Amsterdam, for more reasons than the country location.

Side note: My luggage arrived! I don’t live up to my nickname of Smelly Kelly anymore! Winning!


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