A Little Reflection

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my time here and how fast it’s going by and it’s starting to freak me out a little. I figured writing my thoughts down in words would help me– so, it’s reflection time.

When I think back to the first couple of weeks here, it’s all a blur. I really have no perception of time or the sequence of events; things that seemed to have happened a while into my stay actually happened within the first few days, and things that happened within the first few days are all just a clump of memory that I have a hard time sorting through and separating. It makes me wish I had written down my feelings on a daily basis for those first couple of weeks so that I could remember the little details. I remember the first few days of orientation, with the constant “nice to meet you”s and “what school do you go to?” introductions. I remember one day CIEE gave us each an individual box of pizza for lunch and we were all bewildered by the fact that they gave us so much food. I think if you combined the leftovers from that day you could make about 100 whole pizzas. So wasteful…

Anyway, it’s weird to think that even though the beginning of the program was only a couple months ago, it seems like so much time has passed. And yet, it also feels like no time has passed at all. It has gone by so quickly. I’ve tried, truly tried, to go through every day and remind myself to live in each moment and cherish everything that I experience. I did not want to come here and just go through the motions of everyday life and let it pass me by without really stopping and living in the present. However, no matter how hard I try to grasp all the moments and memories, it seems almost impossible to not feel like time is slipping through my fingers.

It’s also weird how smooth the transition from State College life to Prague life was. Maybe it’s because I’ve already had the experience of moving to a new city, but I really didn’t have much trouble adjusting. The only major, tangible difference was the “European-ness” of Prague, with its rich history and architecture. The other thing would also be its communist past. This is definitely something that I think about on a daily basis and something that I’m continually learning more about.

As I enter the last month and a half of my time here, I really think it’s important to seize every opportunity that arises and not stress so much about the little things. I’m going to try harder to worry less about sticking to the schedule I’ve set for myself (I make myself a schedule everyday to make sure I finish all the work I need to get done) and just let myself do things as I please (to a certain extent). If I see a cute cafe on the street, I’m going to walk in and have a little snack. If someone wants to see a different part of the city one day, I’m going to join them. This is the only time in my life that I have the luxury to do whatever I want in a new country with new friends with endless possibilities for memories. As cliche as this all sounds, I feel like it’s necessary to think about and realize.

On another note, I’m going to be away again this weekend for an overnight trip to Zlin for my Czech Cinema class. Zlin is in the Moravian part of the Czech Republic. We’ll have an animation workshop at a local university, visit a wine cellar for wine tasting (hooray!), explore some caves and there is a boat ride, too! It sounds like a fun trip and this is definitely one of those things I would not have experienced otherwise, so I’m excited.

I’ve also decided to make a google map and pin all the restaurants/clubs/cafes I’ve been to and include little reviews to go along with them. I figured this would be helpful for anyone coming to Prague in the future. I’ll probably post that later next month since it’s kind of a big project (and I still have many more places to visit).

And finally: I was offered an internship at BrandLink DC today! I’m really excited about it, 1. because it’s a PR company and I really wanted to intern at a PR company this summer, and 2. because I was starting to freak out about my summer and the possibility of not having an internship at all. I still haven’t accepted the offer but it’s a really good feeling to know that I have something set up for the summer. I can even post a status on Facebook about it if I want to! So many likes! Instant gratification!

Well, this concludes my little reflection of a post (along with irrelevant updates). Only 6 more weeks to soak it all in! Wish me luck.

Paris, Je t’aime.

Get ready, this is gonna be a long one.

This weekend I went to Paris, and it was absolutely beautiful. I went knowing that it would be pretty, but it really exceeded my expectations. Everything is so monumental and so picturesque, it was truly unreal. You cannot rely on movies or other media to capture its beauty– you have to go there and see it for yourself.

The first day I got there in the late afternoon, and after dropping my stuff off at the hostel I went to meet Carolyn and her friend from her program in London (who goes to Penn State as well). We met by the Eiffel Tower and walked along the Seine toward the Louvre. It was a beautiful, sunny day that made it perfect for a long walk. All the bridges, museums, churches, gardens, parks (literally everything) that we passed were so amazing I could not stop gasping and stopping to take it all in (and take a pic, of course).

IMG_7685

The Seine

IMG_7687

10170962_10152374991534612_1685651956_n

Carolyn and I

We got to the Louvre around six, went in and were pleasantly surprised to learn that we get free admission since we are students. In fact, all museums in Paris are free for students studying in Europe. I didn’t realize that part of the museum was actually inside the glass triangle, so I thought that was pretty cool. We didn’t have time to see the entire thing so we focused on the Greek and Italian sculptures and of course the Mona Lisa. I think it’s a taboo to say this but the Mona Lisa was pretty underwhelming. Maybe it was because it was surrounded by a mass of people all trying to make their way to the front to get a picture, but I thought the other pieces of art were more impressive. It was actually a little sad to see all these people with their phones/cameras out, not even taking the time to look at the painting itself and only worrying about getting a picture as a souvenir.

IMG_77171925256_10152374991559612_1237345010_n

IMG_7728

After the Louvre we crossed the bridge over to a French restaurant on Blvd Saint-Germaine. It was a cute little place with a funny waiter who kept making fun of us for not knowing French. It was refreshing for me, since this would never happen in the Czech Republic (waiters barely talk to you there). I tried escargot for the first time, which came with scary utensils that looked like eyelash curlers. They have the same texture as clams, which I like, so naturally I liked the escargot as well. I had to ask the waiter to help me pull out one of my snails though, which did not help us debunk the American stereotype. Luckily he was nice about it, which I appreciated. For my main dish I tried “moules,” which is mussels and fries. And when I say mussels, I mean mussels. I think my bowl had about 50 of them in it. And I ate them all, of course. For dessert I tried the apple crumble. Needless to say, I loved it (it’s really hard for me to dislike a dish, as you can tell). After dinner we were exhausted from a day of walking so we parted ways for the night and I headed back to my hostel.

IMG_7744 IMG_7751 IMG_7749

The next morning I met up with Carolyn and Sarah to catch the train to Versailles. It’s only about a 30 minute ride so it’s pretty easy to get to from the city. The palace was even more stunning than I imagined it to be. I was shocked at how shiny the golden gates were. They must polish them or restore them or something (I don’t know how these things work) quite often. The inside was even more spectacular– each room was so immaculately and purposefully decorated. It was cool seeing rooms I’ve learned about in history like The King’s Chamber. I cannot even begin to imagine all the money and time spent building that palace. The Royal Gardens were just as impressive as well. They were so vast and well-maintained. I could probably spend all day walking around the property and still not see the entire thing.

IMG_7760IMG_7762

Outside of the Palace

IMG_7764

Inside

IMG_7788

King’s Chamber

IMG_7916

Hall of Mirrors

IMG_7815IMG_7806

Royal Gardens

After Versailles we went back into the city and had lunch at the famous Cafe de Flore. Apparently lots of famous artists and writers eat/ate there and it is now a cultural hub. It was nice enough out that we got to sit outside, which was great. I felt like I was getting the true Parisian experience. I had the eggplant gratin, which was cheesy and yummy.

IMG_7825 IMG_7829

After lunch we headed to the Notre Dame. Oh my God this place is ridiculous. First of all, it is ginormous, and the architecture was overwhelming with all its detail and grandeur. However, I only saw the exterior since we didn’t have enough time to see the inside as we wanted to make time for other sites as well.

IMG_7830

IMG_7833 IMG_7841

We walked over to the Sainte-Chapelle Cathedral, known for its massive stained glass windows. Like the Notre Dame, this cathedral is Gothic. The stained glass windows were really beautiful and interesting– each of the 15, 50 foot tall window tells a different biblical story. Part of the church was undergoing restoration so we couldn’t see all of it, but the parts I did see were well worth the visit. Now that I’m taking an architecture class and have some knowledge of architectural history, it’s nice to be able to apply what I’ve learned.

IMG_7853

Next we went to the Love Lock Bridge. This bridge puts all the other Love Lock bridges I’ve seen in Europe to shame. Every inch of the bridge was covered, with multiple layers, in locks. Some of the locks were inscribed, which I thought was a little excessive but to each their own. Carolyn and I bought a lock and put one on for fun. I’ll be interested to see if I can ever find it again if I go back to Paris. The whole process of buying the lock, writing our names and the date, finding a spot on the bridge to place it, and throwing the keys into the river was a lot of fun.

IMG_7863 IMG_78711173698_10152374996999612_1639843573_n

Throwing the keys into the river

After that little adventure we walked on toward the Champs-Elysees, the famous shopping street, for our final stop: the Arc de Triomphe. We stopped by Laduree (a macaroon/pastry shop) along the way. The place had a line that spilled onto the street of people waiting to get their hands on some of their world-famous macaroons. There was a separate line for those that wanted to sit down inside the restaurant. We opted for the latter since we were tired. The interior design was really pretty and classy. It was apparently inspired by the Sistine Chapel. I had the coffee eclair (had to get an eclair in Paris) and a raspberry macaroon. This was my first macaroon, and it wasn’t what I was expecting. I thought the outside would be crispy and crunchy, but it turned out to be soft and delicate. The inside was a delicious jam-like filling. It was very sweet and I liked it very much.

IMG_7881 IMG_7886 IMG_7887 IMG_7889

Laduree

IMG_7912

Arc de Triomphe

IMG_7913

With our bellies full of delicious pastries, we went back to the hotel to wind down and research some restaurants for dinner. We ended up taking the metro to a neighborhood called Montparnasse and randomly picked a restaurant on the main street. It turned out to be more of a bar than a restaurant but… oh well. I had a salad with smoked salmon. It definitely wasn’t the best meal of the trip but I wasn’t really that hungry either so it was okay. It came with free French bread (as does every meal in Paris), so that made everything better. I am an easy one to please.

The next morning we met up to go to the Luxembourg Gardens. Before going into the gardens we decided to have brunch since there were a lot of cute cafes in the area. The cafe we chose had outdoor seating, and it was a lot of fun people-watching as we sat chatting and munching. This brunch was one of the best meals of the trip– fresh croissants, toast with apricot jam, eggs, and ham. Not to mention the fresh-squeezed orange juice and coffee. Just remembering it all now is making me hungry. As far as last meals in Paris go, I think we did pretty well.

IMG_79301978856_10152375000144612_301812579_n

The gardens were really lovely; all the flowers were in bloom and it had a large fountain with little kids running all around (and old men playing with their remote-controlled toy sailboats). There were women doing yoga on the lawn, and lots of people jogging around the garden. It was such a pleasant atmosphere and I didn’t want to leave. I had a flight to catch, however, and had to go to the airport a little past noon. It was so hard saying goodbye not only to Paris but to Carolyn as well. I’m so glad I got to spend time with her and explore Paris with her this weekend.

IMG_7937

Luxembourg Gardens

IMG_7947 IMG_7962

Final thoughts: I love Paris!!! The people, the architecture, the atmosphere, the food… everything was amazing and I want to go back again sometime. I would live there if I had the money to afford it. Maybe one day. I didn’t think I would love the city as much as I did, but how can you not love somewhere so breathtakingly beautiful? Readers (all three of you), if you haven’t been to Paris, you must take the time to see it. Just take my word for it. You won’t regret it.

I’m done!

Midterms are finally over! This week was insane, as I had midterms for all of my classes. I’m not used to having everything accumulate all at once, since at Penn State my workload ebbs and flows from week to week. This was probably the first time I’ve felt a considerable amount of stress since I’ve been here. I was pretty much either in my dining room studying or at school studying all week. Reviewing for every subject all within a few days is definitely not easy. It would be nice if they spread the tests out over a couple of weeks so that we’re not scrambling to memorize everything. It’s so weird that it’s already mid-semester though… I feel like I just started class.

Last weekend, before the midterm mayhem, I went on a school field trip to Lidice and Terezin. Lidice is a town in the Czech Republic that was completely destroyed and eliminated by Hitler during WWII. After the assassination of Reich Protector Reinhard Heydrich (protector of the Czech Republic), Hitler chose this town to avenge his death. He ordered the Nazis to kill every adult man, send the women and children to concentration camps, and burn the town down entirely. All 173 men over the age of 15 were murdered, and several hundred women and children were sent to concentration camps. The site is now a memorial. Seeing the completely barren landscape and imagining that it used to be a town full of houses, buildings, schools, and people was pretty scary. It’s so hard to believe that these kind of events actually occurred in our history, and not too long ago either.

IMG_7601

Lidice

Our next stop was Terezin, which is the “model” concentration camp. It was originally a military fortress built in the 18th century, and was later turned into a ghetto and concentration camp by the Nazis. It wasn’t an extermination camp, but thousands still died at the camp from things like starvation and disease. The Red Cross came here to inspect the conditions of concentration camps, so the Nazis had a huge “beautifying” project where they made sure everything looked hygienic and humane. It was interesting to compare and contrast Terezin to Auschwitz, as they are sort of on the opposite ends of the spectrum. Terezin acted as a labor camp, where people had more of a purpose than at Auschwitz. However, the barracks and living conditions were strikingly similar, with extreme overpopulation and lack of nutrition. As I was walking through the camp, I didn’t feel as emotional as I did when I walked through Auschwitz. Perhaps it was because I was distancing myself since I didn’t want to feel those intense emotions that I felt in Auschwitz again. I felt guilty for feeling numb– but I guess it was a defense mechanism.

IMG_7609

Courtyard in Terezin

I’m really glad I got the chance to visit Lidice and Terezin. I’m so lucky to be able to experience and see first-hand such significant parts of history. It extends beyond World War II, too. I see buildings and houses from the communist regime, architecture from the 10th century, and remnants of the communist mentality in Czech culture on a daily basis. I am surrounded by it, and it is truly fascinating.

Anyway, weather here has been absolutely wonderful and it finally feels like spring time. I love being able to pull out my lighter jacket and wear it comfortably outside. This weekend I’m going to Paris to meet up with Carolyn, who is studying abroad in London. I’m so excited to see her! It’ll be really nice to see a familiar face, one that I’ve known for more than just a couple months. It’ll be my first trip that I’m traveling via plane, too! I plan on consuming many delicious pastries this weekend.

Ciao 🙂

A Raw Experience

I had the opportunity to visit Auschwitz recently. I had no idea what to expect before I got there. We started off the tour at Auschwitz I, which is set up like a memorial or exhibit. Each building features a different aspect of the concentration camp, like everyday duties or rituals. Auschwitz II, or Birkenau, is less of a museum. It’s a lot bigger and open than Auschwitz I, and there are several barracks and hygiene stations that you can walk through. It was a surreal experience to walk through the camps, looking at and reading different things and trying to everything in. I found it really difficult to be there, experiencing it all and reminding myself that I was in THE Auschwitz, the place full of horrible history. I’m so used to walking through museums, detached and removed from the objects I’m seeing that being in the concentration camp threw me off. I felt immense guilt every time I felt my mind wander, or if I found myself thinking “I’m thirsty” or “I’m cold” when I was literally looking at pictures of starving and freezing people.

To be honest, I didn’t know how to feel. I felt sad, of course, but I felt like crying would be fraudulent or melodramatic. I felt like I didn’t have the right to cry when I didn’t have the slightest idea what these people truly went through. Who am I to shed tears about something I know nothing about? It was a really confusing experience for me as I developed all these conflicting emotions– I was sad and I felt compassion for the victims but I was also disconnected and outside of it all. It was very surreal and hard to process everything as it all happened. I guess you just have to react in your own way and not think too much about it. Looking back, it was pretty egotistical of me to be worried about what I was thinking and how I was reacting when it really wasn’t about me whatsoever. Maybe I shouldn’t have been thinking about my own experience but of the victims and their hardships.

The experience of going to Auschwitz is not something that can be summed up in words. It’s something internal, so real yet surreal that it creates many layers and complexities. One must experience it for themselves. A blog post does not adequately describe the feeling of walking through the barracks, prisons and gas chambers and seeing first-hand things the things that you’ve been reading about for your entire life. Touching the building walls, walking along the long pebble roads and standing under the camp gates– I tried so hard to process it and understand it, but I just couldn’t. Perhaps I’m not supposed to.

Budapest.

It’s been too long since my last blog post! A lot has happened since then. I’m now well into my classes and I’ve been to Budapest, Auschwitz and Krakow in between. I’ll start with Budapest.

My weekend in Budapest was absolutely amazing! My flatmate Kate and I got there at around 6:30 in the morning (we took an overnight bus), a little groggy and tired but so excited for the weekend ahead. After dropping our stuff off at the hostel, we headed to a street known for its food and shopping, hoping to get something to eat. We found a little cafe and had croissants and cappuccinos (yum) and then walked around for a while before our walking tour at 10:30. We walked along the river, which was so pretty. It’s a lot bigger than the river in Prague and the bridges are also a lot larger (obviously).

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

After a mid-morning snack and some more exploration of the area, we headed to the meeting point of our tour. I was pleased to see that it would be a small group, since our tour in Berlin had well over 20 people. Our tour guide took us to the Buda side of Budapest (Budapest is divided by the river into Buda and pest), which is the quieter and more historical side of the city. We walked to the castle and St. Mattias Basilica which was beautiful. We also saw the President’s office and a panoramic view of the city. It was interesting how different the city was on this side of the river, though… it was almost more like a village.

IMG_6903

Chain Bridge

IMG_6912

IMG_6916

IMG_6921

 

St. Mattias Basilica

After the tour we headed back to Pest for lunch, where I had gulash soup and fish. The soup was basically beef stew, but it was really good!

IMG_6928

We decided to spend the rest of the afternoon in the hot springs, which Budapest is famous for. We went to the biggest one, called Szechenyi, which has multiple indoor and outdoor baths. It was quite an experience– the place was huge and had really cool architecture. The outdoor pools were mainly filled with young tourists while the indoor pools were occupied by mostly older people. Each pool had a different temperature, so you could switch around based on what temperature you liked the most. Personally, I don’t think they were hot enough but I’m used to the scorching hot onsens (hot springs) of Japan.

IMG_6931 IMG_6934

After the baths we went back to the hostel to shower and then went to a little restaurant called Hummus Bar for dinner. It was super cheap; I got a beer and pita sandwich for $5. I’m pretty sure Budapest is cheaper than Prague, which is impressive. The hummus was so good!! I wish they sold containers of it so I could bring it back with me.

IMG_6952

We then went on a pub crawl, where we met people from all over the world– Germany, Belgium, Ireland, France and of course some Americans as well. This was my first pub crawl and I have to say it was well worth it! We got free drinks at every bar we went to and they even got us a slice of pizza toward the end of the tour, which we all appreciated quite a bit. If you’re ever in Budapest and not sure how to approach the nightlife, I would definitely recommend doing the pub crawl. We went to a bunch of ruin bars (old buildings destroyed by the war that they converted into massive bars), which were all really cool.

IMG_6957

IMG_7033

One of the ruin bars

The next morning we started off at Central Market Hall, which sells a bunch of locally grown fruits and vegetables as well as pastries, meats, bread, etc. They also sell langos, which is a traditional Hungarian specialty. It’s a deep fried bread (basically a huge doughnut) with toppings that vary from sweet to savory. We went for the savory and got sour cream and cheese topped with chicken, onion and tomatoes.

IMG_6962

After the market we went back to the Buda side and hiked to the top of the hill, which features a huge “liberty” statue from the Stalin era. I found it interesting that they keep the statues/monuments built under Stalin in Budapest, since in Prague they got rid of almost everything from that period and replaced it with something else. Anyway, the statue was interesting (very large, dramatic) and we got some pretty great views of the city!

IMG_6978 IMG_6981 IMG_6982 IMG_6987

In the afternoon we tried out the Book Cafe which is an immaculately decorated cafe with vaulted ceilings and murals all around. Probably one of the coolest cafe I’ve been to in Europe.

IMG_6999 IMG_7004

For dinner we went to a pub called Stiler and I tried Hungarian crepes. They turned out to be sort of like enchiladas, and they were delicious. I loved the atmosphere of this pub! I wish we had more time to check out some of the other pubs, since they all seem unique with great food.

IMG_7019

IMG_7020

Overall, I loved Budapest and I wish I could have spent more time there. It was so cheap, the people were very helpful and friendly, and the city was the perfect size. I also really liked that since it’s not one of the top tourist destinations it still has sort of an untouched, authentic feel. So if you’re ever in Europe, on a budget, and/or are looking for one of the most vibrant and youthful cities, then I would definitely give Budapest a go.

Back to School

My semester has officially begun. This week was the start of my CIEE courses. After some switching around throughout the week, I ended up with 5 classes: Collective Identity in a Totalitarian Regime, Psychoanalysis and Society, Czech Cinema, Art & Architecture, and Czech Language.

Collective Identity in a Totalitarian Regime sounds like it’s going to be really interesting. It focuses on the ordinary citizens during the communist era rather than on the leaders or political dissidents. The teacher is really enthusiastic and is a lot of fun to listen to, so I’m pretty excited for her lectures. What’s also cool is that she lived in the Czech Republic during the communist regime so she can give us first-hand examples of the things that she talks about. It makes everything a lot more tangible.

Psychoanalysis and Society focuses on the basic understanding and concept of different psychoanalytic theories and their relation to the Czech Republic. I know close to nothing about psychoanalysis, so I’m excited to learn about it. I think it’ll also help explain a lot about the Czech Republic’s historical and contemporary issues, which is cool. However, the class seems to have a lot of reading which I’m not too thrilled about.

Art & Architecture is mainly about Prague’s architecture and urban development. On Mondays we have a lecture about whatever topic we’re covering that week such as Roman art, Gothic architecture, etc. Then on Wednesdays we go out for a tour and the teacher shows us examples of the art and architecture around the city. It’s cool because although I’m technically at school, it doesn’t really feel like it since I’m basically getting a free tour of different areas of the city. I feel like I’ll get a lot out of this class so I’m excited. It’s pretty rare that you get to experience and see first-hand the different styles you learn in class.

Czech Cinema is all about Czech films from the 1960s onward. I don’t know if it’s a well-known fact that there are quite a few Czech directors and films out there, but I wasn’t aware of this before I applied to the program. Once I learned of this, I really wanted to take a film class to see what they’re like so I’m glad I get to take this class. We’re going to be discussing movies like “Happy End,” “Daisies,” and “Firemen’s Ball.” In all we’ll be watching ten movies I believe. This is my first ever class about films, so I’m eager to see how I like it.

This week I also had an interview with the Bohuslav Martinu Institute, which is an educational center for the Czech composer Bohuslav Martinu. Basically, anyone who is interested in Martinu or would like to read about him, get his manuscripts, photographs, etc can come to the institute or go to their webpage and get access to all things Martinu. They have offices in Prague, Switzerland and Japan… which is where I come in. They are currently trying to increase promotional efforts of Martinu in Japan. I suppose the director saw on my resume that I have Japanese background and thought it would be a good match. So, today I met with their social media manager and talked about what I would be doing. Apparently classical music is huge in Japan (something I was unaware of), so they are looking for ways to expand awareness and appreciation of Martinu by reaching out to various key players in the classical music world via social media. Along with using social media to increase Martinu’s presence in Japan, my job is also to develop a new social media strategy and come up with new ways to increase awareness. Going into the interview I thought that this internship would mainly be proofreading their newsletters and such, so I was pleasantly surprised to hear that they had an entirely different plan for me. As an aspiring public relations professional, this seems like an amazing opportunity to improve my skills and learn more about the public relations world. This is also the first time that my Japanese has proved useful outside of a Japanese context, which is really cool. I always thought that the only time my Japanese would be utilized would be in Japan or at a Japanese company/organization, so the fact that I’m in the Czech Republic and have the opportunity to use Japanese is so exciting.

I’m definitely looking forward to the coming semester as I learn about Czech history and culture through my classes and internship and I can’t wait to get started.

A Weekend In Berlin: Condensed

Last weekend I took my first trip outside of Prague and went to Berlin. Here’s some of what I learned and experienced:

1. The international trains in Europe (or maybe just the German trains) are set up like in Harry Potter– a set of six people sit in their own compartment. I kept waiting for the trolley to come by and offer us some chocolate frogs but it never came.

2. German people are really friendly and smiley, which was refreshing since Czech people are a lot less friendly in comparison.

3. Berlin is huge! It made me appreciate the close proximity of everything in Prague. So many metros… so many metro fares…

4. German beer is pretty damn good.

Image

Beer from a local brewery

5. There is a pretty big alternative scene in Berlin which I wasn’t aware of. Lots of second-hand stores, flee markets, grungy bars.

Image

Image

Flee market

6. History is literally everywhere in Berlin. WWII and its aftermath has definitely left a huge impact on the area, and I felt it wherever we went. We saw old Nazi buildings that are now used by the government, the Holocaust memorial, Berlin wall, and much more.

Image

Berlin Wall

Image

Holocaust Memorial

7. The street food of Berlin should not be overlooked. My best meal of the weekend was a doner kebab from a street stand that cost me 3.5 euros.

Image

Currywurst

Image

The amazing kebab

8. Berlin is really diverse! I did not know this. A lot of the bakeries and little shops were owned by Muslims, and there were people from all over the world in the city. I know Prague is a homogenous city, but this really put it into perspective.

9. The train inspector people that check your ticket (Germany uses the honor system, so you can hop on the train without buying a ticket at the risk of being approached by an inspector and having to pay a hefty fine) are under cover. We got asked for our tickets by a man who legitimately looked like a drug dealer. He was wearing acid-wash, multicolored jeans with a grungy shirt/jacket combo. It was weird and freaked me out a little. But also made all that money spent on the metro tickets worth it.

10. I would definitely like to go back to Berlin and other German cities. I feel like it has a lot to offer and I loved the culture and the people there.

Some more photos:

Image

Gendarmenmarkt

Image

Whole roasted fish at the flee market

Image

Me with a huge cheeseburger 🙂

Image

Brandenburg Gates