I apologize for the lateness of the next few posts. With hit or miss internet at my hotel in Berlin, plus a continuously full program, writing blog entries has been low on my priority and capabilities list. Without further ado, I give, Einführungsseminar 3.0!
Our third seminar week (Sept. 17 thru 21) started with a museum visit near Berlin’s “Museum Insel” – an island filled with museums! As luck would have it, of all the activities that were planned for Berlin, I had only previously partaken of one event/visit (more on that during week four!). We got a crash course on 1,000 years of German history. Some highlights included artifacts, like actual indulgences issued by the Catholic church during the middle ages, and half of the museum space is dedicated to post-1919 Germany. I will definitely go back to this museum when I am in Berlin next!
|"Get out of Purgatory for (nearly) free" cards - Medieval Indulgences issued by the Catholic Church|
|This paper money from the Weimar Republic, totaling billions of Marks, was only worth one Mark after inflation got under control in Germany in the 1920s.|
Our second visit was to the German Bundesrat, one of the semi-legislative bodies of the German federalist government system. The Bundesrat is made up of government representatives from each of Germany’s federal states, based on population. The Bundesrat can suggest some legislation and has more control over federal government initiatives that cover areas of competency given to the states. We got a free mug during the tour: my very first apartment supply!
Tuesday we went to the German Ministry of Environment. Our topics were a little difficult to follow for non-specialists (management of raw materials and environmental targets for climate change). Everyone enjoyed visiting one of the architectural elements of the building; the architect of the new section of the ministry building incorporated the section of Berlin Wall that originally separated the ministry building from the no man’s land at Potsdamerplatz. We had lunch at Potsdamerplatz, then headed to a talk on migration and integration in Berlin. I really enjoyed this presentation, and I wish it had lasted longer. Our presenter talked about the various large minorities in Berlin (can you name the top five? I’ll reveal the answer in my next post!). I also got two pamphlets on German migration to the USA and the recent migration of Russians to unified Germany (they are called Spätaussiedler).
Our excursion on Wednesday I would like to dedicate to two individuals: my architect friend from CU, and my bro! We traveled to Dessau to visit the Bauhaus School/Building, followed by a visit to Wittenberg. Although the Bauhaus school of design and architecture was revolutionary for its time (1920s), I couldn’t help but think that a lot of the furniture and clean lines are evident in many items one can find at Ikea. Still it was very interesting to visit the building. At Wittenberg Lutherstadt, we got a tour of the oldest museum dedicated to the Reformation. The museum is found in Martin Luther’s house he used while he taught in Wittenberg. Other highlights included walking through the old city center, seeing the church door where Luther allegedly nailed his 95 theses, and stumbling upon an organist practicing in one of the city churches.
|Bauhaus in Dessau - notice the clean lines and large number of windows.|
|Whad up, Martin Luther????|
|Martin Luther's House|
Thursday we visited another museum, this time an art museum with a collection of Asian ceramics and prints. Next we visited Berlin’s largest mosque, which was extremely impressive, informative, and beautiful. We even were able to stay in the mosque during the evening call to prayer. This long day ended with an opera performance at the Neuköllner Oper, which is known for its performances of newly-written pieces. The opera was called “Fernweh” – like homesickness, except for traveling and longing for things outside oneself. Music featured during the opera included works by George Crumb, Franz Schubert, and David Bowie. Most of my fellow Bukas were not impressed; they would have preferred a traditional or classical opera. I thought it was great! It made me think, it had humorous moments, and I will keep my eye out for future performances at the opera for future visits to Berlin!
|Inside the Mosque|
On Friday, I was interrogated by a former DDR prisoner! Confused? We went to one of the main prisons run by the (former) State Security Police of the German Democratic Republic. If you watch “Das Leben der Anderen,” you will know what I am talking about. Our tour guide had been imprisoned by the Stasi, and he chose me as his person to question concerning how I would have reacted if I were in the prison. It was intense. Thankfully our evening activity including lots of delicious food from China and Russia, and great drinks, compliments of one of the American Bukas. Our “Länderabend,” or country evening, was filled with music from Russia, China, and the USA.
|Former Stasi Prison in Berlin|
The weekend was a little more low-key. I went shopping with a friend, found some amazing boots that I unfortunately did not buy, and visited with fellow Bukas at our friend’s new Berlin apartment. This included more delicious Chinese food!