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Check! (from Berlin – 28 June 2010) August 30, 2010

Posted by Andrew Punnoose in Travel Log.
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We arrived in Berlin yesterday, around 6 pm, after leaving from the Hotel Tourisme in Paris at 7 am. We missed the Germany-England football game, but got to Berlin just in time to see the whole city erupting in celebration. It was pretty incredible – the streets were filled with honking cars, people walking through the streets with flags as capes, and with the sound of vuvuzelas. When Cate, one of the graduate students on the program, asked a German about where to find something, he said, “No, today, we do not speak English!” It was a great example of the relatively recent emergence of German patriotism.

German patriotism

German patriotism in the streets of Berlin, after a World Cup match

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Berlin and Füssen August 25, 2010

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To start off my tour of Europe I joined Alexa, Ethan, Hunter in boarding a train from Metz to Berlin for our first weekend in Europe. Our train left shortly before midnight and got us to Berlin, which means swamp as a testament to the swamp the city is constructed on, early the next morning, after a surprisingly decent night of sleep. Arriving at Berlin’s Hauptbahnhof station is quite the experience, as the building is a sprawling piece of modern glass architecture four levels high, each level representing many stories. Naturally, it took us some time to find the tourist office in the behemoth structure, but we soon had a map of the city nine times the size of Paris, a plan to take a walking tour, and were off! The sense of place that exists in Berlin is engulfing and one cannot help but feel the immense history permeate one’s visit. Upon leaving the Hauptbahnhof, one of the first structures we came upon was the Reichstag (and its long lines to enter the glass dome that now stands atop it.) I couldn’t think of a better way to say Welcome to Berlin! We continued that day to see the Brandenburg Gate, Hitler’s Bunker, some of the cities more famous plazas, the Berlin Wall, the Humbolt University and the Bebelplatz across the street where the Nazi’s infamously burnt many books, the SS and Gestapo headquarters, an intimidatingly large and barren structure, and the Holocaust memorial,which is a quite stunning a thought provoking structure composed of concrete columns of various heights protruding from a plaza that slopes downward towards its center. Walking through these stone like columns and the shadows of light and dark it creates helps one to understand the gravity of the memorials meaning and truly feel for the millions lost at the hands of the Nazi’s.

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The Traveling Life July 25, 2010

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We were in Germany for their victory over the UK. Awesome!

Three cities, three weeks, a whole lotta traveling.

The first three weeks of my program were spent in Brussels (you can read my previous posts here and here), and the second were spent with one week in Paris, one in Berlin, and one in Krakow, Poland.  This was a great opportunity to see three totally different parts of the EU and get a feel for the different cultures.  Let’s take them one at a time by publishing some excerpts from my journal. (more…)

Au revoir au Continent! July 21, 2010

Posted by luciabird in Travel Log.
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On our way to Berlin, we stopped at Terezín, which was once an internment camp for Jews and other enemies of Nazi Germany during WWII.  Although sobering, this was a very educational experience.  After reading so many books about the Holocaust in school and on my own, actually witnessing a camp was both disturbing and enlightening.  Our first night in Berlin, I was a tad sick and had to make a quick trip to the hospital.  The efficiency of the Germans is no joke; I was in and out of the Emergency Room within three hours!  The best part of Berlin was definitely the music!  First, we saw the Berlin Philharmonic as part of our music curriculum.  We were in nosebleed seats at the very top of the concert hall, but the acoustics were so perfect that I felt like I could hear every instrument very clearly. (more…)

From Berlin to Bruges to Paris… July 18, 2010

Posted by Megan Sweeney in Travel Log.
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I know it’s been a while but the last part of traveling and my first few weeks at Oxford have flown by! Since I last wrote we finished up the travel portion, stopping in Berlin, Bruges, and Paris. Right after our welcome dinner in Berlin, our bus driver (definitely the best, and funniest, of all the groups!) took us on a driving tour. We saw the Berlin wall, a monument to those who were killed in the Holocaust, and Charlie’s Checkpoint. Of course we visited several museums…but my favorite part of Berlin was getting to see the Berlin Philharmonic. Aside from having nosebleed seats, the concert was fantastic.

Bruges was a nice change compared to Berlin and Paris because it was so much smaller. We couldwalk everywhere, and it was a lot easier to explore on our own. Not to mention, Belgium chocolate is delicious; we ended up buying some everyday  we were there! We also took a day trip to Brussels, and since our bus driver was from  Belgium he took us on a short walking tour of the main sites. My personal favorite was the Manneken Pis. It is a statue of a little boy peeing, and the legend goes there  was an explosive that had been lit and the little boy saved the city by urinating on it. (more…)

Times gone by… July 10, 2010

Posted by aellertson3 in Travel Log.
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Hey everyone! I’m writing to you now from Oxford, England after concluding the first four weeks of travel as part of the Oxford Study Abroad. Most recently I have visited the cities of Prague, Berlin, Brussels, Bruges, and Paris. In Prague, the highlights of my trip included an opera performance of Carmen at the National Theater, and exploring across the Charles Bridge up to the marvelous overlook of Castle Hill. Evenings in Prague were almost as entertaining as the days, to see the city lit up along the canal, and to sample Prague’s exceptional night life. (more…)

Shock and Awe Campaign June 2, 2010

Posted by Hunter Hammond in Travel Log.
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Hello Again,

It has been a while since I have been able to write; however, I wanted to make an update on my trip to Berlin and on my recent adventures in Amsterdam and in Brussels. The last two weeks have been amazing, tiring and exhausting, but wonderful nonetheless! As I mentioned in my last post, I spent a few days in Berlin and in a small German town called Fussen. While in these places I made it a point to enjoy as much international flare as possible; however, I also made it a point to stay up to date on my task to discern the common opinion regarding the European Union and its relation to the country.

In Berlin, it is important to understand that the city was once two independent municipalities and that it has a very long and dark past. These characteristics have left a visible mark on the city, as well as on its inhabitants. I made it a point to talk to as many English speaking (there are many) residents as possible. These people ranged from tour guides, to shopkeepers, to business people, to even younger adults as well. For the purpose of this post, I want to focus on two main people; the first is David, our tour guide. David did an exceptional job at explaining the history of the city and at providing comedic relief when necessary. Two hours into our tour, I began to feel that I had a vague recollection of what he felt of the city. He loved it! He spoke with passion and fervor, his eyes lit up when he spoke about a particular area of the city or of the success that was finally met once the wall fell down; I knew that he would give me the response of a deeply nationalist individual. I expected that he would tell me the EU was a shadow government that hoped to establish a new world order at the expense of Germany; however, I was proven wrong. When asked about his general opinion of the EU, David responded by going off on a five minute monologue explaining how the EU was paramount to the success of Europe! He said that the EU was the way to unite Europe and to weather the economic storm to come. He was very adamant that he was not an economist, but that he felt that Germany was uniquely better because of the European Union.

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Midnight Train to Berlin May 24, 2010

Posted by Ethan Craig in Travel Log.
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As twelve o’clock approaches, our train begins to roll out of the station. In the morning, we will find ourselves in the largest city of Germany, it’s capital, Berlin. Once we got out of the train station, which is more difficult than it sounds, we took the day to explore. Berlin has an amazing history. It has been the strong hold of many different powers throughout the past. As the location of Hitler’s bunker as well as a key area during the Cold War, this city has been through a lot. The architecture reflects the changes in power than Berlin has gone through in the last centuries. One of the most profound structures in a remaining segment of the Berlin wall. To think a stretch of cement could hold so much meaning. To those who lived in Berlin or still do, the wall signifies a time of despair, hopelessness as well as entrapment. The contrast between East and West Berlin has faded but it is still prevalent enough to remind you of how things used to be.

The most memorable part of my day in Berlin was the walk through the Holocaust memorial. Consisting of over 2,000 concreete slabs, it expressed many emotions. It is difficult to reflect the murder of 6 million people in a piece of art but I feel that the memorial certainly did a good job of it. It makes you think many things. It reminds you how important it is not only to be a leader, because I think few would disagree that Hitler was a powerful leader, but that one most also maintain a sense of morality and justice. Without it, people can be driven to do terrible things.

As our day ended in Berlin, we boarded a train and headed towards Fussen in southern Germany.

What an incredible place Fussen is! It provided a very interesting look at the contrast between the man made beauty of Berlin and the natural beauty of the Bavarian Alps. While there, we got a chance to tour the Neuschwanstein Castle. The castle was an amazing piece of architecture and provided a stunning view from anywhere you stood. The builders certainly knew what they were doing when they picked a location.

Altogether, it was an absolutely incredible first weekend of travel. I can’t wait to see what else this summer will bring!

EC

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