Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Guten Morgen Berlin


I am here. It took a long time to sink in that I'd been accepted into the study abroad program, and it's taking a little time for it to sink in that I've arrived. Everything is good, everything is kind of how I imagined it from movies and books and such--except that now I am here, too.

The public transportation systems are great (and now I have a monthly pass!) and the streets are pretty clean. Alles in Ordnung!

Everywhere you walk there's history. Yesterday afternoon I found a cemetery with graves from WWI; my homestay dad (a history professor) showed me the church, not five minutes away from where I am now living, where Martin Niemöller preached--Martin Niemöller being a priest who was a major figure in the anti-Nazi resistance, survived two concentration camps, and said,
"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me."
I'm not sure how intensive this quarter will be, academically, since I'm taking three academic classes (intermediate German, contemporary theater, and intro to materials science), but I've heard that the language class is fairly relaxed and that materials science isn't that difficult either. Four out of five days I have just the one class (usually German), so I have plenty of time to go exploring. Tuesday will probably be my "grind" day, and even then I can make an adventure out of it, finding the best places to do work.

I'm very much looking forward to practicing my German more. My host parents have said that they're happy to speak only in German to me (unless I really don't understand); some of the other students are also trying to stick to German, although we are in the minority; and of course in everyday life I can choose to speak German preferentially even if people switch to English for tourists.

At the end of last quarter I thought about study abroad with some ambivalence because I know I'm going to miss people. Most of my friends I won't see until September; a few, who are studying abroad in the fall, I may not see again until 2017. But we have technology, so we won't be completely without contact, and since last quarter (as I said in my previous post) the biggest lessons I learned were about the importance of love, I've decided not to feel awkward in any way about reaching out to people.

Na gut. Tomorrow, orientation; Thursday, classes begin. Looking forward to it!

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