This week has been amazing because after a relatively long period of not seeing my parents, we were reunited in Berlin.
My parents are amazing people. Growing up they instilled in me a sense of adventure that culminated into my current semester abroad. When I first heard about study abroad programs back in middle school or so, they always promised me that wherever I ended up going, they would come visit me. Ten years later, they've kept true to their promise and trekked halfway around the world to come visit me.
Photo of my mom and me: I'm not sure why, but many people see a resemblance.
One of the most awesome parts about having my parents here besides the obvious - they're incredibly fun people and they buy me dinner - is that they've allowed me to experience my city once again through the eyes of a tourist. I was a tourist when I first came to Berlin (and some would argue that I still am), but now I get the chance to be the guide. The pupil has temporarily become the teacher, and I've had the chance to repay them for all the lessons they've taught me growing up by imparting some of my own. Thanks to me, they've learned how to navigate Berlin using only the public transportation, how to say "thank you" in German, and how to pronounce the "letter that looks like a B" (a.k.a. the Eszett or ß). In return, they've taken me to see the tourist sites I hadn't yet made it to such as the DDR Museum and the Fernsehturm/TV Tower and have imparted a whole lot of cool Cold War-era history on me.
Photo of my dad and me: Standing in front of the Hotel Adlon in Pariser Platz.
It's one thing to learn history from a textbook, it's another to hear about it from people who lived through it. I've walked past Checkpoint Charlie and the Brandenburg Tor many times, but these and other monuments take on a completely different meaning when I hear my parents talk about them. Mind you, they have lived in the U.S. for their entire lives, but that doesn't make it any less strange for me to hear them refer to "East Germany" and "West Germany" as two different countries.
I could spend days going on about how much I love seeing my parents, but nothing beats the fact that they've given me the chance to re-explore German history. I've spoken to many people who lived in Germany while the Berlin Wall still existed, but hearing it from the two people who raised me made me realize that I'm not detached from any of it. While I may have been born after the fall of the wall and grew up knowing Germany as a unified country, I still have ties to its past, no matter how small or seemingly unsubstantial these ties may be.
And now, I need to return to thinking about the present in order to continue my part-time gig as their guide. After all, it's in my name.
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<p>My name is Ali, and I'm a Political Economy major at the University of Southern California (Trojans!). Ever since I was a little kid and found out that there was such a thing as "study abroad", I dreamed about doing it. I'd stare at the famous Midwestern cornfields and wonder what it would take to go see the world. I loved the idea of picking up and leaving everything, even if it was only for a short while. Now, I'm living the dream and studying abroad in Berlin, Germany.</p>