The semester is officially drawing to a close and I’m quietly saying goodbye to many of my friends as they head home after their semesters abroad while I get ready to spend the rest of the year here. There’s a lot of excitement as my friends get ready to go home and spend time with the family they haven’t seen in months and a lot of sadness as we realize our time together is coming to a close. So, in honor of all the good friends I’ve made, here’s a list of a few of my favorite moments in Berlin from the past 4 months.
- Spending days walking through museums in Potsdam before a night dancing at Techno clubs
One of the day field trips that IES Abroad offers is a day in Potsdam that includes a tour of the Potsdam palace grounds. Walking through those regal grounds on a gorgeous fall day with new friends alone would have made the day memorable. Luckily my friend Hailey and I also had the opportunity to go to the art museum and view some of the seminal pieces in the development of impressionism (I think Hailey almost fainted from excitement). Upon heading home to Berlin and two of my best friends quickly got ready and went out to a Queer art gallery opening. Walking through the gallery, it was kind of glorious to realize the long human history of loving outside of the norm and just to see clear inherit proof that queer people have always existed and that their love has always mattered. It was beautiful to experience that with people who appreciated that as much as I did. Then, I finally rounded out the night by heading to Club Ost, a Techno club in formerly east Berlin. This was the beginning of my love affair with German Techno music. Dancing in those smoking rooms was all-consuming in its oddly timeless beats. We danced until we literally couldn’t anymore. Walking home we stopped to grab Döner and took probably some of my favorite photos from the whole semester. As varied as that day was, it is definitely one of the favorites I have experienced thus far.
- Swing dancing on a club roof
Swing dancing was not a hobby I expected to pick up while living in Berlin, but I’ve gone at least two or three times a month since I arrived. My favorite night, though, was definitely the first night I went. My friends and I met in a big ballroom on the second floor of an old building over a restaurant within 15 minutes of the IES Abroad Center. I know exactly one routine that I learned at some point in middle school and I’ve practiced enough times that I’ve somehow kept the skill. So naturally, I taught my little routine to anyone who was willing to learn it. As the night went on the room got warmer and eventually, a couple of us stepped outside for something to drink and some fresh air. I was excited though, it’d been ages since I’d danced (I used to be a ballerina) and I was so glad to be moving like that again. Luckily, my friend Luca was just as excited and immediately picked up my little routine. But we needed more room so we jumped onto the flat roof across from the bar and began practicing. After a couple of failed attempts, we managed to do the whole routine. Rather well, too, I think. A German couple, also sitting on the roof applauded. We got it talking and they admitted they didn’t know much about dancing either and I offered to teach them what little I knew. As I watched them learn and then practice what I taught them a little bubble of joy filled my chest. It was a great way to spend a Thursday night.
- Visiting/being visited by friends who are also studying abroad
One of the long seminal pieces of every student's study abroad is visiting friends that are also spending the semester abroad. I had the opportunity to travel through Italy with one of my oldest friends and be visited by one of my friends from college. Experiencing a new city with people you know and love is one of the most enriching experiences one can ask for. Eating new foods, walking through historic cities, stumbling across book fairs and flea markets, and running into each other at hostels, all are experiences enriched by good friends.
- Late night Döner
Whether it be coming home from a night out or taking a study break to ride an hour to get the best reputable Döner store in Berlin, getting Döner with friends will always be a staple of my time abroad. Döner, a spin on a traditional Turkish meal, is the staple street food in Berlin. In fact, there are now more Döner stores in berlin than there are in Istanbul. Döner consists of meat (usually lamb) cooked on a vertical spit and served on Peda bread with some mix of cabbage, lettuce, and onions just referred to as 'salat'. There's a good chance that there's Döner standing within a two-block radius of you, regardless of where you are in Berlin. They are undeniably some of the best fast food I've ever eaten and are the cornerstone of so many friendships. I admit I eat Döner at least once or twice a week 9the fact that there's a store only two blocks away makes it all the more tempting.
- Using Ritta Sport to make homemade hot chocolate
As temperatures dropped in Berlin, turning every outing into what is essentially a polar plunge, I’d been craving hot chocolate. But every powdered mixture I’d managed to find had been nothing but disappointing. Luckily, I have a good friend who was willing to take the time to do an extra grocery trip and get ingredients to make hot chocolate from scratch. We bought the german staple Ritta sport and used the square to make what was quite possibly the best cup of hot chocolate I’ve ever had. Doing something so simple just for our own enjoyment was such a sweet moment that it made it into one of my favorite nights of the semester.
- Baking Christmas cookies with my former Guest family
One of the best parts about being in Berlin is reconnecting with my Guest family from the exchange I did in high school. Two weekends ago, my guest family invited me over to bake Christmas cookies with them. I, unfortunately, have few talents when it comes to the art of baking but was very helpful when it came to cutting out the cookies, introducing my family to American Christmas carols, and spilling sprinkles everywhere. It was wonderful to be welcomed back into a place that had been my home so many years ago as part of the family.
I’m so thankful for all these moments.
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Hello everyone! My name is Eliza DuBose and I'm from the area surrounding Boulder, Colorado. I'm a junior at American University studying Foreign Language and Communication Media, which is (very) basically a Journalism and German double major. This is my second time living in Germany and I am so thrilled to be studying in Berlin for the year. In my free time, I spend most of my time hiking, reading, writing, or consuming an inordinate amount of media.