Michelle, Jeff, and I came to Berlin by traveling from Detroit, to New York, and finally to Berlin. I was super nervous about things until we got here and ordered food from Starbucks. I was able to do it! That was a great moment in my life. It is so different actually ordering food or holding on a conversation instead of just memorizing a dialogue. Since then, things have been much better. I still get a little unsure sometimes before I have to say something, but it is nowhere near as bad as that first time.
We have done so much since coming here that I don't know what to talk about. Should I talk about how tonight is the first night (other than the night I arrived) that I didn't see theater, and that every show has been fantastic? Starting with the eccentric "Frankensteins Rotkäppchen" at the communist theater, going to the beautiful ballet of "Schneewittchen," seeing "Frühlings Erwachsen" which I had seen one week and one day earlier in English, being blown away by the cast of "Trust," or watching the best acting I have ever seen in "Diebe." Everything has been so wonderful and different. It is overwhelming. I very much enjoy the fact that you can see so many things here. The only thing that is really frustrating is you cannot see everything because so much is going on every night. Me being so into theater also helps with my appreciation of what I see. I am really proud that I can understand the amount that I do too. Even though I am not speaking as much as I probably should, my German has gotten so much better from being here.
The kids at Morus 14 are also very sweet. I have only tutored one girl as of right now, but she is great. Everyone seems to really like tutoring their kids. It is difficult to see people in the position that they are in, but I also think that it is extremely important to do so. People need to step out of their comfort zone, and this program is great for pushing so many boundaries. It is so rewarding to help out in any way. This is something none of us will ever forget.
We will also never forget the monuments and tours that we have seen during our time in Germany. The details may get fuzzier as time passes, but it will not ever be completely erased from our thoughts. There are some beautiful things to see, like the Brandenburger Tor (which Michelle, Jeff, and I went back to tonight to take more pictures) and the Reichstag. But, at the same time, there are things like the Holocaust memorial which is beautiful in its own way, but it makes you think. Today we had our second tour with Carol, and she showed us two more memorials for the Holocaust. They all are very different and make you think about various things. Going to the concentration camp Sachsenhausen also made all of us take a step back and pause trying to imagine all that happened where we were standing. It really hit home to me because I am Jewish and know that my family was in a similar place once. It is incomprehensible. I just cannot even get close to coming to terms with all that passed. Going to the camp forced me to think about things that I don't usually have to. I really like that. It was a moving tour, and I was sad to see it end.
We had another big tour that was difficult to watch; the Stasi prison. The thing that was hardest for me was that this was going on only two years before I was born. Two years. For many things I can make the excuse that it was a long time ago. This wasn't. How do people not know that it is not okay to torture people in any way; physical or emotional? And, if they do know that it is not okay, how can they continue doing so and live with themselves? Seeing fragments of the wall around and markers showing where it used to be is also surreal. People don't even think anything about it while they pass by. It is crazy to think that just a few years ago, life was extremely different for all of the people in this city. Berlin seems to be a city that is forever changing, or, at least, that is what I have gathered.
This trip has made me even more interested in German history. It would take several lifetimes to be satisfied with studying with this city on its own. I hope that I have the opportunity to study here or come back on my own. I am glad that I have had this little taste of what Berlin is like, but I feel as though I am barely scratching the surface. It is so beautiful here. I like many things, but also dislike others. No place is perfect, but I think it is safe to say that this is my favorite city that I have been to in Europe (granted, I have only seen Paris, Florence, and Rome).
Can't wait for the rest of the trip! I promise I will give a less vague update sometime in the near future. There was just so much that I wanted to touch on, but neither you nor I have the patience for all of my details right now.