So it’s been forever and I’m dropping the ball, so I’m getting back on with just writing about this week.
So last week I was supposed to go to Milan to see Eric, but due to the fact that I didn’t have a passport because we had to turn them into to get our Resident Permit, I couldn’t go. UGH, 60 euros down the drain and not being able to see Eric as planned was not the sort of beginning to a weekend I was hoping for. Eventually it turned out that this was really a blessing in disguise because I had about 4 major things I had to that weekend that would have been extremely difficult to make up.
One of those things was going on an excursion to a mosque in Nelkoln on Thursday. As we walk up to this mosque there were a ton of people there. It was a Thursday so it was kind of startling that so many people would be there, then we see a coffin coming out and realize eek, we just almost crashed a funeral. After the people had left we met up with out tour guide. She was such a curious lady, I really enjoyed her. There were only about 6 of us on the tour and we were all girls so it was sort of relaxing. She was a German who converted to Islam and it was really interesting to hear her perspective on how Germans see Muslims and how integrated Muslims are in the community. What was most interesting was how she said that young Turkish or Arabic kids grow up hearing from other people that they're Muslim or that they should be Muslim so then these Turkish or Arabic kids feel like they have to own up to the label that people put on them.
The mosque was also GORGEOUS! Blue and turquoise mixed with other bright earthly tones, ah gorgeous. The chandelier in the middle was a bunch of lights with quotes from the Quran about God lighting up all ends of the earth. So beautiful. We all sat chatting about integration and Islam on the heated floor on the main worship room.
After that I went with Vivan to my lieblings-türkisches cafe (favorite Turkish café) off Kottbusser Tor. Its this really cool place with Arabic next to the German on the menu and Arabic music playing. This place seriously has the best döner in all of Berlin. Promise! They also have other types of pickled vegetables, sweets like baklava, and real mint leaves in hot water. So good!
Ah I’ve also recently become literally addicted and obsessed with Milka chocolate. Haha I think its bad when you eat chocolate on the bus and then worry about if everyone is noticing you’ve just eaten a whole bar of chocolate. Seriously though, Milka kicks all American chocolate’s ass. Its soooo good and its sooo cheap. Actually all chocolate in Berlin is really pretty cheap and sooo much better than in the US. Ah I’m going to gain so much weight, haha I’m trying to just buy the little bars in a small attempt to curb my chocolate intakes. Wish me luck, its sooo good!
On Friday we had an excursion to Potsdam, which is a small city outside of Berlin, literally 30 minutes from my house. It was really nice and quaint. Actually it makes me love Berlin. The small cities of Germany that I’ve been to like Lepizig and Dresden, are really nice, but they’re so small and I really like the variety of Berlin. Potsdam does have cool history though, it was where Alte Fritz (AKA Old Fritz, AKA Frederick the Great AKA Frederick II of Prussia) had his favorite palace called Sanssouci. It’s a highly highly Rococo style palace that’s actually really small. Ha, that’s why I like Alte Fritz I’d like a small castle too, I’d just get lost in places like the Lourve and Versailles. The palace name “Sansouci” translates into without worry and it was because Alte Fritz had been in his fair share of horrific battles. Also crazy fact about Alt Fritz: when he was 18 or so he tried to escape his serious father and when he was caught, his dad thought he’d teach him a lesson by forcing him to watch the beheading his best friend who he had tried to escape as well. AHH! Yeah so Alte Fritz grew into a really nice enlightened despot because he was trying really hard to not be his crazy father.
We also went to Cecilienhof which is where the Potsdam conference was held a few months after WWII was over in Europe. So I got to see where Stalin sat ( and touched his desk! Eek! Crazy man’s desk!) and Clement Attlee’s smoking room. The tour was actually really lame, but it was still really cool to see where the big round table was. Its just interesting in hindsight to see how things completely fell apart in that three some relationship.
We had a bunch of time to check out the whole city. So Raleigh, Kevin, Stephon, and I got some food at an overpriced restaurant in the middle of town. Kevin is such a character. Being the devout Catholic he is, Kevin gave of speaking English for lent which means the conversations between Kevin and I have recently become extremely one-sided and often need a translator. Ha, its kind of like talking to a child, and I mean that in the best way possible. Haha, I get to test my deutsch on him.
Also Raliegh is secretly the love of my life. Haha I love her.
Later that night a bunch of us had Oper tickets for the Magic Flute. It was really good, but all in deutsch so a lot of it was lost on me. Oper’s aren’t as horrible as people think they are, or maybe the Magic Flute is just really good. It was actually really funny and silly even with the translation. Oh and the Queen of the Night’s Aria was really good. That’s impressive! I believe it’s the highest note in an Opera.
So on Saturday, CIEE took us on a tour of Kreutzburg which is my favorite neighborhood of Berlin. It’s the really Muslim area where the art scene is along with all the cool bars, clubs, and young people are. The tour was really cool and the tour guide was this really cool Muslim lady who was super opinionated about how Muslims are treated and how horrible the gentrification of Kreutzberg is. Also we had the BEST Turkish food afterwards. It was the closest to Moroccan food I’d had outside of Morocco.
Later that night I went to see Alice in Wonderland in 3D with Kevin, Danielle, and Raleigh in the Sony Center in Potsdamer Platz.
On Sunday things were a little interesting at my house. Manny and Sira got in a relatively large argument at the breakfast table with Ken, Sira’s boyfriend, and I sitting there trying to be invisible. It was all about how Manny had made plans for us all to go to Mauer Park Flo Markt (Flea Market) but then Sira didn’t want to go. Awkward family tension resulted. Ah all I can say is I’m so glad I’m not 15 anymore and this experience makes me never want to have children b/c one day they’ll be a teenager. Eveuntaully we all went to the Flea Market with Sira not wanting to be there the whole time. Awkward… But the market is actually really really cool and I want to go back some other time when its warmer. I’ve never seen such a big flea market. We were there for about 2 hours and still didn’t see the whole thing.
On Tuesday my deutsch class had früstück (breakfast) at my deutsch teacher’s apartment. There’s only 6 of us in the class and its really cool. I love my deutsch teacher. She’s like 27-30 years old and really opinionated. We made a HUGE fruit salat and had tons of cheese and toast. She lives in Kreutzberg next to this nice park. Ah she’s so great. We always have a break in the class because its 3 hours long and during the break her and I always walk down the street to get cheap coffee together. (Milka sometimes for me too… sooo addicted!) haha she calls Günter, the old coffee shop man, her drug dealer b/c he sells her coffee, an understandable connection.
After früstück I went to Manny’s work because he had told me he worked close to Kottbusser Tor. Manny is a psychologist that works at something like an alternative school for kids who are prone to violence. Its an interesting job, so I went to visit him and he took me around his work and then we walked around Kreutzberg. He used to live in Kreutzberg in the 70’s when the wall was still up. Then we went to a Turkish café that he loves the most. It was really cool because Manny really works in a really cool place.
On Tuesday night I saw Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others). SO GOOD! WATCH IT! GOOGLE THE TRAILER! (Trailer link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhWWQDAdcE8) This is seriously, one of the best movie’s I’ve ever seen. Its about life in the DDR (or GDR, German Democratic Republic, AKA Eastern Communist Germany). Not only is the story captivating, but it’s the cinematography is wonderful! I don’t even usually notice that sort of thing, but this was just such a good movie. WATCH IT!
This Thursday night a bunch of us decided to go to the Weineri, (Winery) which is a café like room where you pay 2 euros for a wine glass then drink as much wine as you’d like. At the end you’re supposed to be so drunk that you actually give them 2 euros per wine glass. It was really really fun and totally crowded at this little place in Prenzlauer Berg. It was super fun. I really just enjoy going to bars and cafes and drinking because its so nice to just sit and chat and drink. I had a really great time and drank plenty of their cheap wine.
The next day though we all had our last excursion to Sachsenhausen, a concentration camp in the far north of Berlin. It was the first concentration camp in Germany and at first was just for political prisoners, but then later Jews and other people persecuted under the Nazi’s racial laws. It wasn’t intended as a place for mass murder and extermination because those places were meant to be in Eastern Europe, but 30,000 people were murdered there. Much of what was left after the Nazi were defeated was destroyed by Soviets who bombed out most of the camp’s buildings including the gas chamber and crematorium. (PS I didn't take any of the Sachsenhausen pictures they're from Wikipedia, I didn't bring my camera that day)
It was really surreal being there. I can’t really explain it and maybe I haven’t absorbed it yet, but the whole thing was really really surreal. Its astounding that these events ever happened and its hard to understand how humanity can sink so low so its difficult, even when standing there, to understand how horrific and horrible it was. I think what struck me most was walking into the former barracks where prisoners lived. It was been burned when the Nazis left the camp, but there was still bunk beds, toilets, and the “shower” rooms. I mean actually standing where so many people were forced to live under the worst conditions. Its hard to imagine and take in. The cruelty prisoners endured is astounding. I mean the guards would just do horrible things to the prisoners just because they could, such as forcing as many people as they could into a small closet then letting them die because there wasn’t enough air for so many people in such a small room. Then there was the gas chamber were all that was left was the ground floor of the building. This particular place had a gas chamber, a “doctor’s room” where they would systematically shoot people, crematorium ( in the above picture), and an execution trench where people were shot. I think looking back on visiting there it has just made my comprehension of horrible people were treated even clearer. Just talking about the holocaust now is harder than it was before simply because I been where so many people were brutally and ruthlessly systematically murdered.
Hmm… its hard to follow that depressing topic, but I’ll try with something light and fluffy. Today Manny, Sira, and I had a relatively peaceful Sunday that involved all 3 of us biking to the Flo Markt that is about 500 meters (that’s right it’s the metric system) away from our house. This was nothing like the Mauer Park Flo Markt because it was tiny and apparently we were too late to see anything good. However it was really nice to get on a bike and spend some time outside. It was really good to do something active instead of just walking around in the freezing cold.
Oh yes and on Saturday evening Raleigh, Kevin, Danielle, and I went to an absinth bar then to a dance club. HA! The whole place was filled with FU BEST students. I have no idea how we all ended up here, but it was great! We had such a good time dancing, again, just nice to be active! I’m dying trapped in buildings with all the snow and cold outside! I’m ready for zommer!
Basically I’m having an amazing time still and I’ve been really busy which is why I haven’t been keeping up with this. I mean this post was just one week! Eek! So much happening and I’m just trying to enjoy it while it lasts!