Wednesday, August 22, 2012

As Cool as Berlin

One final post, and then my wanderings abroad stop for a while--but my adventures never really stop!

I'm on a plane again, this time flying across the States for my final year at college. I'm really looking forward to getting back into the routine of my studies; in some ways I feel like I have been on vacation for the past 9 months, and it'll be great (and most likely a bit trying) to clear the cobwebs from my brain and get back into my wonderfully hectic college schedule.

Now if I can clear the recent cobwebs from my brain and remember my last few weeks in Berlin....

One of the highlights was seeing some friends of mine in a circus show in a theater in central Berlin. The show was creative, funny, and of course full of talent, and it was a wonderful evening. I invited a few friends from my program, who after the initial confusion of "Wait--you were in the circus?!" had a great time as well. 

I also continued with my research, of course. I really like that it helped me get to know the city—I visited a human rights library that was right near Checkpoint Charlie, and I felt that I got to know Kreuzberg pretty well from wandering around and visiting various organizations. 

I also had some fun field trips with my class. We visited the Islamic Art museum, held in the Pergamon Museum (classics) on Museum Island in central Berlin. I love Islamic art, and much of it reminded me of Turkey, so that was a nice visit. Afterwards a friend and I stopped for some rostbratwurst at what seemed to be a street performing festival at Alexanderplatz--there is always so much going on in Berlin!

My class also had a great visit to a mosque. There are around 80 mosques in Berlin, but only a couple built in traditional Ottoman style--i.e. with a beautiful dome and minarets. It was an afternoon of culture shock--I felt like I was back in Turkey! The mosque was beautiful, and we learned a bit more about the Turkish Muslim population in Berlin. Later that evening we visited a Turkish students' association that hosts classes and tutoring. It was great to see my classwork and research project coincide!

On Friday we had our final farewell ceremony at the university. My 5 weeks in Berlin passed in a flash, but I did learn a lot. By the end of eight months abroad, though, I was ready to head home. By a stroke of luck (and my fantastic mother) I flew home Iberia business class, with a smorgasbord of food, really comfortable seats, and stops in the business class lounges in Berlin and Madrid. What luxury :)

I've been home for about 10 days now, and have had a few moments of reverse culture shock. Of course, it's somewhat strange to hear English all around me, and I'm still getting used to the American outward friendliness (i.e. in restaurants and shops). There are some things here that I missed while abroad (not living out of a suitcase, for example), and some things that I now miss about Europe and Turkey (I can't stand American salad dressing). Overall, though, I'm glad to be home and to get back to school. 

I hope you've enjoyed reading about my adventures! I've enjoyed keeping this blog as a diary of my travels. Looking forward to many adventures to come :)