Five Things I Love About Berlin

Over the course of the past several weeks, I have moved to Berlin, adjusted to life with my wonderful Gastfamilie (host family), started both my intensive German language and general content courses at Freie Universität Berlin, learned how to navigate public transportation, and have only gotten lost twice. I have ventured out into the city both with friends and on my own, ordered food successfully, and quite enjoy my daily routine here.

During this time, I have fallen in love with Berlin. Here are five of my favorite things so far!

1. Everyone is a hipster.

From people’s clothes to music tastes to beverage choices (I’m looking at you, Club Mate), many aspects of this city carry a distinctly hipster vibe. This makes complete sense, given the way the flourishing and diverse arts community developed here following the fall of the Berlin Wall. Prepare to up your thrifting game!

2. There are tons of bookstores here.

This may just stem from the saddeningly small amount of time that I’ve spent in big cities before moving here, but I am finding so many small and lovely bookstores. In the short time that I’m on the bus to my university, we pass three completely separate and beautifully well-stocked bookstores. The English major inside of me is freaking out.

3. You can’t not become fascinated with the history of the city.

Berlin has been the site of significant political and social change during the past 100 years. During that time, it changed leadership from the Weimar Republic to Nazi control, only to be divided by the wall following War War II. During a simple stroll through the neighborhood of Mitte, you can see the detailed architecture of the Berliner Dom, the imposing stoicness of remaining Nazi-era buildings, and stones in the street where the Berlin Wall once stood. The fusion of many different and some tragic parts of human history can be so distinctly identified here, making Berlin the perfect place to explore history, and reflect on what that history means today.

Berlin Street Art4. Berlin’s bountiful street art enhances the beauty of the city.

In Berlin, the freedom to express yourself and your opinions are highly valued traits, which is one of the reasons why the physical makeup of the city is filled with beautiful, elaborate, and politically charged works of Straßenkunst, or street art. This makes sense, as for a long period of time many people living in Germany were prevented from being able to express themselves effectively. Now, nearly every street in the city from Kreuzberg to Steglitz has been turned into a piece of artistic expression.

5. The efficient beauty that is public transportation.

The largest city in Germany with over 3.5 million residents, Berlin has an incredibly effective system of public transportation in place. Its extensive bus lines, tram service, and U-Bahn and S-Bahn lines can get me wherever I want to go in the city in under an hour. This is the perfect time to read a book, people watch, or listen to music while staring blankly at nothing in particular, in typical Berliner fashion.

Liebe Gruße, or best regards,

Jenna

Jenna is a student at Siena College and an official API student blogger.  Jenna is currently studying abroad with API in Berlin, Germany.

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