My day started at 7:30 AM when my alarm clock told me it was time to take my littlest brother Rhys (pronounced ‘Reese’) to the bus stop. It was my last chance to see him before he went to school and I, to the airport. It was tough, and with an 11 year old goodbyes are never easy. I was almost thankful when the bus came because it meant an end to a long/hard goodbye (he knew it would leave without him if he did not hurry). After that I made one last trip to the Bank to deposit money and then to Target for a charger. I loaded up my mom’s car and we (my mom, my younger brother Brigham, and I) headed to Schaumburg, Illinois- 10:30ish- for a quick pit-stop. We met my oldest brother, Nicolaus, for a quick lunch at Portillo’s (I made sure to get my fix of Chicago-style hotdogs, Italian beef sandwiches, and vanilla shakes- that’s right plural) and then we headed to the O’Hare International Airport.
Upon arriving at O’Hare (approx. 1 PM), I said my goodbyes to my both my mom and Brigham. Those were hard, but they also were a little exciting because they signified the start of the trip on my own. Airport Security was a breeze (they didn’t even stop me to take the peanut butter I had stowed in my carry-on, which was half an accident) and the flight was easy (departed approx. 4:30 PM)- I had the exit seat and tons of leg room. After sleeping for only an hour, watching Katy Perry’s Roar music video, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and the first episode of Vikings, my plane arrived in Berlin 40 minutes early at 6:20 AM local time (11:20 PM Chicago time).
It was lucky that I met two other IES students that were on my flight (one being from Carthage College, my school) because we were able to figure out Berlin’s bus system together. It isn’t hard, but it is different, and in a foreign language/country. We made our way from the airport to the IES center by taking the bus and the U-Bahn (subway) and arrived around 7:40 AM (approx 2 hrs and 20 min. before the expected arrival time- 10 AM [3 AM Chicago time]).
Luckily as we were walking past the IES building (we hadn’t figured out which one it was yet) someone called to us asking if we were looking for IES, Ja! Natürlich! Turns out he worked there and, after letting us in, gave us food, coffee (which was immensely appreciated), and led us to the student lounge where several comfy couches were waiting for us! We waited until about 9-9:30ish AM (2-2:30ish AM Chicago time) for more students to show up. Once we had about 10 students we took a tour of the IES facility, which included several classrooms, a library, a computer room, the student lounge, and worker-offices, and then we headed to the train to take care of some first day business!
We took the train to Alexanderplatz (a very famous area in Ost-Berlin [East-Berlin]) to get passport-sized photos. These were taken for our train passes and university IDs. We also went to Saturn (a Best Buy-type store) to purchase our Handys (cell-phones). After this we headed back to the IES facility which is located by the Friedrichstraße subway station (about a 10 min. subway ride from Alexanderplatz). Once we got back, approx. 3:40 PM (8:40 AM Chicago time- Yes, at this point I am past the 24 hr. mark) a couple of new friends and I went around the corner for our first beer in Germany- I had a Paulaner Hefe-Weizen (don’t worry it was delicious).
We then headed back to IES because our host families were coming to pick us up and bring us to our new homes. Around 5 PM (10 AM Chicago time) my host-person picked me up. Her name is Petra and she lives in an area of Berlin called Schöneberg (about a 30 min commute to the IES facility). We ‘hit it off’ and spoke to each other in a mix of German and English the entire way home and the rest of the night. She prepared a delicious Indian dish of curry and rice while I showered (and let me tell you, it was about time I showered!). We ate around 7 PM (12 PM Chicago time) and stayed at the table till 8:30 talking about the city of Berlin- what to do, where to go, and how to get there. She insisted that I stay up until at least 10 (to try and fight off the upcoming jet-lag). Around 9:50 PM (2:50 PM Chicago time- you all should be realizing it is 7 hour time difference by now) I started to fall asleep on the couch in my room with my computer in my lap. So I decided to take my time getting ready for bed and at about 10:30, I plopped down on my ever so comfy bed.
It was a full day (around 30 hours straight) that contained bits of excitement, adventure, new places, new friends, and new experiences. Although I was tired and sweaty from my Reise, it was more than worth it! I can’t wait to discover more awesome places and people in the city of Berlin! Tschüss!
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">My name is Evan, I am a student at Carthage College in Kenosha, WI, and am currently a foreign exchange student studying in Berlin, Germany. I enjoy writing, reading, and photography. I meaningful experiences and I try my best to show that meaning through my work.</span></p>