Who knew there could be SO much history in one city-state of Germany??? In 5 days, I have seen more about the last century of German history than I EVER thought I would. I saw:
Fernsehturm (TV Tower at Alexanderplatz)
Berliner Mauer (Berlin Wall)
Judisches Museum (Jewish Museum)
Museumsinsel (Museum Island)
Potsdam, including: Schloss Sanssouci, Haus der Wansee Konferenz)
Bundeskanzleramt (German White House)
Bundestag/Bundesrat (German Congress/Senate building)
Hohenschoenhausen (German prison used by the Stasi to interrogate 'resistors' to the 'democracy' during the Cold War)
So, needless to say, I was pretty darn busy. :) In that time, I accumulated:
an Ampelmann (the streetlight-man of West Germany) keychain
a German flag
a keychain from the Bundeskanzleramt
1 AMAZING Doner Kebap! (kind of like the German equivalent to Gyros in the states, except they're Turkish or something)
We were there for Tag der Deutschen Einheit, or German Independence Day. October 3, 1990 was the official day of German Reunification. I thought it was interesting-- while we were at the Stasi prison on Saturday, our tour guide asked us HOW the fall of the wall came about. We all kind of stood there. Because we all know the wall DID come down, and it WAS a riot of the people, but how could they plan something like that if the Stasi knew everything about everyone? He said that basically there was one politician in West Germany who was on TV on the night of November 8th, 1989, and while they were asking him if a riot was going to start, since rumors had accumulated, he replied there would probably be one. Then he was handed a piece of paper and said 'well, according to this, it is supposed to start... right now.' and people took that as their cue to start, so they all stormed the wall. I can't imagine what that would have been like. A completely unplanned riot against a regime that knew EVERYTHING about its people from bugs and wire taps and informants... i just can't see why one would have such a low level of trust in other people. It's insane how crazy these governments were allowed to become.
So when we went to the government buildings here, we noticed that they were mostly made of glass. This is because they are done hiding things. The government wants its people to be able to SEE what is going on and have access to it because the government wants as little control of the economy as possible. which i think is rather interesting. So these buildings are new, modern, and very interesting to look at. apparently for every 10% of money they spend on the building of the structure, they have to spend 1% on art. So that's why they are all crazy cool looking!
Berlin has its own dialect type thing-- so we would be sitting with a group of people around our age on the train just minding our own business and trying to listen to them speak, but we would only make out a few words because everything is SO different. It's really weird. They use so much slang that it's really hard to understand. But we DID find a lot of English speakers because we went on so many tours and stuff, so that was fun. ;)
And the orchestra-- oh, my goodness they were beyond description amazing! We sat behind them, but it was actually kind of better because we could hear the winds WAY better (especially the horns). and since they played a suite from an opera, they had soloists, so at one point one of them came up like RIGHT next to us to sing from a balcony... it was pretty amazing. ;) And the Dvorak (7) was the PERFECT ending to the concert. That hall is so wonderfully full, and I pretty much couldn't stop smiling the whole concert. It was amazing.
I could see myself in Berlin-- it is very much like Chicago, only, well, German. ;) So obviously they have cultural differences and big open squares and not as many skyscrapers and their trains are underground rather than above, but it was VERY cool. It wasn't as crazy as I thought it would be-- it was actually rather quiet for a big city, and very easy to navigate. I'm finding I am very good with directions, so i was pretty much leading my two friends Chris and Jackie around the city all week long... but it was SUPER fun.
I could talk about SO much more right now, but alas it is 1:30 and I need to go to sleep! Just thought i'd give you an update. :)
This week classes start, but we don't technically have to go to any except our German classes (which we've been placed in) until after our advising sessions, so it's kind of a pointless week. University classes (which i CAN take, but have to audit since i'm leaving before the end of the semester) start next week, so then things might pick up, but i'm really not sure that I will be doing that much of ANYTHING. I'm going to have to find the will to practice EVERY day for at LEAST an hour or 2, since people in Freiburg are stupid and don't want to give me lessons, or even email me back and say no. I will never understand that. Whatever.That's another reason i wouldn't mind studying in Berlin-- i feel like it would be much easier to find a teacher willing to teach me, and willing to get back to me in good time. But who knows? We will never know.
Someday I will be back to Berlin, whether it is for a vacation or for a few years of my life... someday I will play in the Berliner Philharmoniker. Someday......