« ich bin ein berliner » - two weeks in Berlin

I took part in the two week berlin college program from the 18th of july to the 31st, and it was probably one of the best decisions of my life!

Most students arrived by plane, so an airport transfer was organized, although a few students also arrived by car or by train. We were taken to the campus in a minibus, which was a great way to get to know people as the ride took about 45 minutes.

Some students stayed in the Meininger hotel but most students stayed on campus. My 3 roommates and i had a spacious room on campus with 4 beds, a kitchen, a bathroom, a small table and a desk. My room was located on the top floor so we had quite a nice view. 

 

On that first evening, after having met other students at supper and having heard the welcome speech, my roommates and i went to the mauer park. The mauer park was a pretty big park near the campus where on the two first sundays of the month there is a big flea market with great vintage clothes. In the evenings many young people gather there to listen to music and meet new people. I made many friends from berlin there.

A typical day at GLS: 

Breakfast was between 8:30 and 9:30. It consisted of a buffet with different kinds of bread, jam, cheese, and ham. If you woke up too late for breakfast you could always grab coffee or a croissant at any of the cafés nearby

The morning activities started at 10 and usually ended around 1 o'clock. The activities were optional, so we could also sleep in. We could sign up for these, as well as the evening activities in the office. There were many options each day. A tour of the jewish neighborhood, pygmalion museum, stasi prison, futura museum, bike tour along the berlin wall, beach volley ball, thai boxing, etc. My favorite activity was the tredbotfahren on the spree.

When the morning activity ended, we had free time. Usually we would look for a place to eat and it was often hard to choose which restaurant to go to as berlin had so many diverse and delicious places to eat. After that we would walk around, stopping if we saw a nice store. By doing this we would walk around 15'000 steps per day! for shopping i would recommend the neighborhood around the hackescher markt, as there are many popular mainstream but also vintage clothing stores. The neighborhood in which our campus is located also has many thrift shops. 

Lessons started at 3, which meant we often had to hurry to find a tram and get there on time. the lessons were from 3:15 to 19:15 with half an hour break between the lessons. We had one teacher for the first half and another for the second half of the lessons. My teachers, Pascal and Nenad mainly focused on our talking skills, so we would hold debates over various subjects and we would also have to give a presentation to the class at the end of the week. In the second week we even made short films, it was lots of fun to do! Of course, the lessons weren't only fun and could be pretty long and tiring but it was totally worth it as i could really feel my german improving.

After the lesson it was time for supper. Supper was served in the canteen, at the same place where breakfast is served. It was a buffet with salads, meat, potatoes or pasta and a desert. Some picky eaters (like me) liked to have dinner elsewhere. However, as eating out every day can be pretty expensive my roommates and i bought some food at the supermarket so we could have some snacks, and we also made ravioli with my italian friends.

The evening activity started at 10:15 and usually ended pretty late. These were also very interesting and fun with tours along the berlin wall, a visit to a biergarten, and many other activities.

On other days, my friends and i would organise a whole day trip and wake up early, often missing a few hours of sleep. We did this twice. Once we went to the Badeshiff schwimbad, located an hour by tram away from the campus but totally worth it as it was a swimming pool on the river with a beach theme. The second time we did this was to visit the pygmalion museum, for which we had to purchase online tickets in advance. It is located on the museum insel and is truly breathtaking. It explains the history of the middle east in detail, with enormous reconstructions of buildings which used to be located in ancient cities. I definitely recommend going there. I heard some other students visited the tiergarten (zoo) and really enjoyed it too

On saturday and sundays there were no lessons. On saturday you could sign up for a day activity. These started at 10 and ended at around 5. I could only do one of them as i was leaving on saturday. I went to the Sachshausen camp. It was a former nazi work camp where political enemies, prisoners of war and jews were held and killed. It was extremely interesting and gripping. I think it's definitely a place you must visit if you go to berlin. The museum was very well made and also  brought insight on how the DDR handled commemorating those atrocities.

On sunday there weren't any activities planned either so most students slept in till late, grasping the chance to catch up on sleep. In the afternoon we visited the flea market in the mauer park, where we found many cool clothes, jewelry, vinyls, plates, furniture, street food, and music. New students arrived during the day and all we met them at supper. Students that had been there before were always very friendly and helped the new students get to know the campus and the rules to follow.

Overal berlin college was an amazing experience for me. If you are reading this, i very very strongly recommend going to this camp. I met so many incredible people from all over the world, italy, poland, check republic, latvia, russia, england, spain, denmark, mexico, united states, and many, many other countries, as well as many people from berlin. I learnt and experienced many new things. Different cultures, foods, facts, places, everything was new and interesting. 

As the end of the two weeks approached, everyone was very sad, and it was very hard to say goodbye to all of these amazing people. Luckily we all exchanged numbers and keep in contact although it is sad to think we will never see each other again