Okay okay, so I’m at the airport in Sweden coming from my New Years in Berlin, Germany. This was a short, yet amazing first experience in such a historic city ,and country altogether. I spent time learning about some cultural differences, maintaining relationships formed with German exchange students in Bergen, and seeing as many significant sights as possible. The few days spent in Berlin were filled with moments of excitement and fun, but also the weight of what has happened here.
Berlin is the capital of Germany and one of the largest cities within the country with approximately 3.6 million people. I walked out of the airport into a cold, dreary day. The trees were withered and it was clear summer was long gone. The metro is a short walk of 5 minutes from the exit of the airport. I looked up information on the transportation system before I flew in so I quickly purchased my ticket and jumped on the train…the wrong train I later found out. As I rode the train into the city, I was transported back to a different time. One moment I’m filled with joy to see friends for New Years and the next, I’m imagining all of the Jews, blacks, and disabled people who were shipped to Auschwitz during the Holocaust. The freezing cold weather, withering trees, and the trembling and shaking of the old train added to this new atmosphere. I didn’t go into the train thinking of the awful Holocaust, but the sounds and images around the train brought the images flooding into my mind. Interestingly enough, the power of how my senses interpret the atmosphere would impact me later when I visited the Holocaust Memorial located at the heart of Berlin.
I finally arrived at my friend’s house in Mobit. We spent the first couple of days catching up and just living. We enjoyed meals together just as we had done sharing the kitchen back at Fantoft. It was so so good spending time with her again. Our other floor mate joined us a few days later. Lasse is knowledgeable about nearly every topic. When we walked around the city, he, Eva, and Martin were able to give historical context to what I was seeing. When we reached the different points in the city commemorating the Wall of Berlin, Eva and Lasse explained how it divided East and West Berlin, separating families and friends. It created an economic divide between the regions as well. While one side thrived, the people on the other side were struggling to survive. Even today, one side pays more taxes to make up for the disadvantages faced by the East.
We also visited Museum Island, which is a block in the city with five major museums very close together. The Berlin Cathedral is also in this area as well and it provides a great view of the Berlin Television Tower. On my last day in Berlin, we walked over to the Brandenburg Gate and the Holocaust Memorial. The interactive memorial is one of the most moving and impactful monuments I have seen. Walking though it physically and mentally changed how I felt in that moment.
The memorial had such a profound and memorable impact on me. When you experience something so moving, it can change how you perceive the world and your relationships with others.