When Not in Rome

Clarissa Grunwald
July 17, 2016

            So I didn’t go to Rome. We missed the plane because of this thing called military time which, despite all the practice I’ve gotten up to this point, still isn’t my mental default. I was pretty mad at myself. If we’re gonna be real about it, I’m still pretty mad at myself. Not only was I pumped to go to Rome, but for the first time, I wasn’t taking the trip solo. Nothing like dragging another person down with you.

            My best friend Olivia wound up accompanying me on a three-hour Odyssey around Berlin. I was freaking out and she was fighting a weird throat illness. Olivia was a very good sport about the whole thing, which may or may not have had to do with the fact that I believe her diet that day had consisted solely of broth and Ibuprofen.

            So that was how I kicked off last weekend. After it became clear that we were not getting to a foreign country, we decided we were going to spend the weekend doing some museum hopping, as well as going somewhere to celebrate Olivia’s twenty-first birthday.

            So that’s what we did. Between Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, we made it to three museums: the Bode Museum, the Ethnographisches Museum, and the Pergamon Museum. It was pretty fun.

            Saturday night, Olivia decided she wanted to go to a bar, because even though both of us could legally drink since setting foot in Berlin (and in my case, before setting foot in Berlin), it was the night going into her 21st and traditions die hard. Or whatever.

I live in Friedrichshain, so there are quite a lot of bars fairly close to my apartment, and I suggested that we just walk around my area until we found a place. Skip to nine o’ clock or so that night, and we hear the sound of a bunch of people yelling from outside my living room window. There’s a Späti across the street where people gather to watch sports sometimes, so I thought it was a soccer thing. But we look out the window and there’s a huge crowd of protesters marching past my house. It was a little scary, honestly—the crowd seemed pretty riled up, and we heard a couple loud sounds that probably weren’t actually gunfire, but that did convince us to take a couple steps back from the windows.

            We waited a while to leave the house, started heading in the direction of the U-Bahn, and discovered that the crowd was still there. Specifically, they were all in the area of the U-Bahn station. They were marching in the direction of a whole bunch of cop cars, and it looked like it might get interesting, so we decided to turn ourselves around and take the S-Bahn instead.

            The next day, I got an email from IES warning me of gentrification demonstrations in the Regaer Straße area, and stating that maybe I should stay away from that part of the city. Which isn’t going to happen, as I live there.  That said, I don’t think Olivia and I were ever in any danger, we didn’t get arrested, and we got a cool story now.


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Clarissa Grunwald

<p>Writer, composer, musician. American student with a terrible sense of direction set loose on Germany. After years of telling people that I love to travel, this is my first time actually leaving the country.</p>

2016 Spring
Home University:
Franklin & Marshall College
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