I went to Berlin, Germany for the second half of my first week in Europe!! We left on August 23rd and arrived back in Maastricht on the 27th. While the 12 hour bus ride was an adventure itself, the entire trip was filled with so many eye opening experiences.
Day 1: We went on a comprehensive tour of the city where we saw many of Berlin’s greatest monuments and buildings. Following the tour, my group was able to visit the Bundestag/Reichstag which is the German Parliament. There is this really gorgeous glass dome on top, which we walked through. Following the scheduled tours, a group of us semi-successfully made it to the East Side Gallery to see the Berlin Wall. It was such a bizarre feeling standing next to such an enormous piece of modern history. I am still comprehending my thoughts.
Day 2: Day two was a very heavy day. As a group, we visited Sachsenhausen, which is a memorial of the concentration camp that existed there less than 100 years ago. There is no footage of this in my video, as I wanted to pay my respects and truly take in the experience. It was very difficult to fully comprehend the human atrocities that occurred at the very location where we were walking. Later that day, we split into our respective programs. The International Relations students and I went to the Topography of Terror Museum, which is a museum filled with information about to the Nazi regime. This day was very heavy, yet filled with so many learning experiences. A few of us finished out the evening by having a picnic at Museum Island.
Day 3: We started out the day by visiting Hohenschönhausen Memorial Center, which is a former Stasi Prison. This, like the concentration camp, was a very meaningful visit. We walked through various cells where prisoners were held captive and even tortured by the Stasi Police. It was a very eerie experience. In the afternoon, we had free time to further explore Berlin. A few of us went to the top of the Television Tower and then climbed to the top of the Berliner Dom. Both had tremendous views!! As a program we all met together for a very “traditional” German dinner. Following the dinner, I went on a photo tour around the city. That was one of my favorite moments of the trip. 🙂
Overall, Berlin was an extremely jam packed and educational trip! The city is filled with so much heavy history, especially in the past decade. What I found most interesting was how directly the architecture around the city was impacted by the various events. Some of the oldest looking buildings were in fact rebuilt to look like Roman architecture during Hitler’s reign, and some of the “retro” buildings were built in order to make Berlin look more futuristic… very unique contrast.
Watch the entire adventure here: