Back Home from Berlin

Caroline Campos
July 31, 2019

Being back in the United States feels different but somehow neutral and insignificant. I didn’t have any profound epiphanies while abroad, but coming home I realized how much I genuinely grew as a person and in my ability to be self-aware. I feel calm and grounded being home, knowing, seeing, and feeling the power of slow growth. I want to intensify my practice of learning German by centering my academic studies around the connections between German and European colonialism in the Americas and Africa as a lens for decolonial study and practice. I’ve come back with a newfound interest in efficient grocery shopping (bringing my own bags, of course) and cooking for myself. I’ll miss the cheapness of the food and the immense array of seemingly infinite stretches of parks. I’ll miss the wave of calmness I felt walking into Tempelhof. I’ll miss doner kebabs. I’ll miss a part of myself I might only rediscover when going back to Berlin, a place I hope to return to soon.

Before I left for Berlin back in May, I said that I was most excited to learn about the parts of Berlin that I didn’t know existed yet. Looking back, some of those might be the honor system of the subways, the culture and social structures of Berlin that make Americans weary, and the nuances of the national division and the importance of scholarship on memory politics and its reference to identity. While I was there, Facebook events was my best friend (figuratively, obviously). I used it almost everyday to find events. From getting work done at a historic Jewish library in a now Arab neighborhood or at Berlin’s anti-cafe Be’kech, to attending an array of movie screenings (Born in Flames, América Armada, and a movie that was in German with no English subtitles that I sat in for two and a half hours), there was always somewhere to be. When there weren’t any specific events, I spent my time exploring community urban gardens, reading articles, listening to the Food Psych and Tanti Tables podcast, and eating German yogurt (which is insanely good and I miss it so much). 

June 3rd marked the start of 46 days in Berlin, Germany, a place I would not have ever expected to visit. I have always thought it was funny when people say “If you had told me I would be doing _____, I would have told you you were crazy.” I genuinely think this experience was one of those life moments. I learned so much and I will never forget this experience. As I would say at any time of day as a joke while in Berlin, Guten Morgen, and see you soon Berlin.

Caroline Campos

<p>My main interests are music (bossa nova, hip hop, R&amp;B, soul, funk, etc.), visual and performance art, spoken word poetry, and movies when I have the time! I've lived around the US from California to Wisconsin to Virginia and was born in Brazil. San Francisco was a good place to grow up but too expensive, Wisconsin is beautiful in the summer but deadly in the winter, and Virginia is... a whirlwind of a state. I go the University of Virginia and am currently undeclared, hoping to study something with politics, architecture, or media studies.</p>

Destination:
Term:
2019 Summer 1, 2019 Summer 2
Home university:
University of Virginia
Hometown:
Richmond, VA
Major:
Global Studies
Urban Studies
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