As my first overnight ISA program trip, I was quite excited for the chance to visit the German capital with the kids that I have gotten to know quite well this semester. It was my second time in Berlin, because we had stopped here in 2015 on our family baltic cruise, so it was an interesting weekend to experience the same city with a different perspective.
The Journey: We met on Friday morning at the statue of Winston Churchill that is right down the street, and began the 5 hour journey. The program had booked us in the Hotel One, a hotel that was so fancy, it outlived all our expectations (most of us were expecting something along the lines of a motel one). When we first arrived, we did a quick walking tour of the city before going to the hotel and dropping off our luggage. We were free that night to do as we pleased, so after relaxing for a while, a few of us girls headed downstairs to grab some food.
The Experience: The first night, I remembered that Sarah Greb, an girl who studied for a year with me in high school was from Berlin. I messaged her, and was shocked to discover that she lived right in the city. Plans with my friends were a bit murky and undecided, so I chose to go hang out with Sarah for the night. It wasn’t a fully successfully night; we left way to late to head to a mini oktoberfest celebration, got lost on the way to find it almost over, and we got lost on the way back. I probably walked around 10 miles that day altogether, and eventually made my way back through Berlin’s confusing public transport systems. All in all, this night showed me that things do not always work out perfectly, but you must accept the decisions you make and sometimes must go to sleep and wake up for a new day.
On Saturday we enjoyed a very nice continental breakfast, before hopping on a bus and heading to the Neues museum, of art and antiquities. The museum was such a nice way to spend the morning and after, we split off in a few different groups to explore the city. I went with a few kids to head to the Checkpoint Charlie museum, but then changed our minds because it did not appear worth the $12 entrance fee. Instead, we headed to the DDR museum, that described life in the USSR controlled eastern Germany. The museum was interesting in a few ways. Shockingly, the life depicted did not appear so horribly miserable as described in all history classes. I am not sure why this is, but I truly only felt as if I was looking at many exhibitions from my Grandparents house, or just retro food brands and outfits. Following this museum visit, we walked around the city for a bit, and I ended up going with some girls to the Berlin victory statue (The giant gold Angel in the center of the city). We claimed the 100 stairs to the top for a fantastic view of all Berlin. It was awesome to see how big the city truly is, and and watch as the city began to light up with dusk. After this, we got sushi and headed back to the hotel. Right when we returned, many of the kids were getting ready to go out, so I made a quick turn around and went with almost our whole program to one small bar, which was extremely fun.
Sunday morning consisted of yet another fantastic breakfast buffet, before we packed up , stopped at the Eastern gallery of the Berlin Wall, and headed home. Overall it was a quick trip, full of history and good memories. I was not extremely fond of Berlin, however, perhaps because it seemed quite large, cold and unwelcoming in comparison to Prague and my previous weekend visit in west Germany.