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  • Writer's pictureracheloedy

Exploring the City

"Leave home, leave the country, leave the familiar. Only then can routine experience—buying bread, eating vegetables, even saying hello—become new all over again.”

- Anthony Doerr

Throughout my time in this beautiful city, I have seen and learned so much about its character and culture. I have enjoyed so many aspects of life here, both within my daily routine and during my weekend trips around the city. In my daily commute, in running errands, and in planning for my free time, I have truly embraced my new way of living. Berlin has influenced me so much already, and it has given me moments that I am sure to remember for the rest of my life.

For most of my days here, I will walk outside for about half an hour through a prominent shopping area in the city to get from my apartment to the studio where I work. I enjoy the quiet of the early mornings here, and especially on days that the weather is nice, my commute provides a period of time to wake up and to thoughtfully reflect. Many locals will also walk to work, often listening to music or a podcast as they go. I love passing people on the sidewalk as we all go about our separate days.

If I am not walking to the studio, I will take the train or the bus into the city. I regularly use public transportation any time I need to travel further than usual, either for work-related excursions or for personal exploration. Sometimes, I will need to meet my co-workers at an event or alternate workspace in a new part of the city, which gives me the opportunity to see sides of Berlin that I have never seen before. When I find myself somewhere new, I will try to wander around a bit and get a better sense of the area.

One of Berlin’s most beautiful and vibrant areas that I have visited in my free time is Museum Island. Museum Island is an UNESCO World Heritage Site, in which Berlin boasts a beautiful cathedral along with several world-renowned museums, with collections ranging from ancient artifacts to 19th century works of art. Often, people will walk outside on the streets throughout Museum Island, either playing music, talking, eating, or visiting an outdoor market. Especially when the weather is nice, you will see this area full of life and happiness.

So far, I have personally been able to visit the Berlin Cathedral, the Bode Museum, the Neues Museum, and the Alte Nationalgalerie. Every time I have visited a site in Museum Island, I have been amazed at the richness of the beauty and history within each one. I always try to stay in the surrounding area for a while, often lingering at a nearby cafe. Before concluding my semester here, I hope to return to Museum Island a few more times.

I have also been able to visit some of Berlin’s most iconic landmarks, such as the Brandenburg Gate, the Victory Column, Checkpoint Charlie, and the Radio Tower. Each landmark comes with so much historical and cultural significance, and whenever I visit one, I always try to learn as much about it as possible. I try to understand the significance of the landmark to the people that saw it in its most prominent time, and I hope to understand the effect that this landmark would have had on its surroundings.

Berlin is also renowned for its culture surrounding film. Not long ago, I attended a movie at the iconic theater, Zoo Palast, where several historical premieres have taken place. Many celebrities have made appearances here and have personally spoken to the incredible impact that this theater has had throughout the decades. Each theater room has a large screen covered by gorgeous, floor-to-ceiling red velvet curtains. Walking into the theater was almost magical, and immediately brought its audience back to a different time.

Both in daily life and in new endeavors, Berlin has made for a wonderful host city throughout the last several months, providing me with plenty of things to see and do. Even while completing the simplest tasks, I have gained so much in seeing new things and meeting new people here. Around every corner, there is something to discover, whether it be grand or small. I am happily learning more about this city each day and uncovering all of the incredible things that set Berlin apart.

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