Berliners love dogs. To a dog enthusiast like me, it is particularly fun to see that dogs are allowed almost everywhere here – stores, buses, cafes, the metro…I rarely see them on a leash, even the big ones, as they are all incredibly well-behaved. It gives Berlin a bit of a more relaxed vibe, as it suggests that people think it is important to take it easy every now and then by going on a casual stroll with their four-legged friends.
Berliners love to bike. Even in the snow. Many people here also take their bikes with them on the metro (the U-Bahn and the S-Bahn), so that if they live farther away they can bike around downtown once they get here. There are designated bike lanes everywhere, so it’s very convenient. One fellow IES student already got a bike from craigslist. I am planning on doing the same as soon as it gets a little bit warme. Berlin feels busy, but not overwhelming. It’s blissfully vibrant.
History is important to Berliners. Aside from being a home to over a hundred museums, the city itself is an open-air museum. The East Side Gallery, which consists of over one kilometer of the wall that used to separate West and East Berlin, dominates the urban landscape around the bank of the river Spree by Warschauer Strasse. Having become an avid reader of the Berliner Zeitung that magically appears in our mailbox every morning, I’ve been following one story about the wall particularly closely. When a private company had wanted to remove a chunk of the wall so that it could build a luxury hotel, people organized a mass demonstration to protect it. Although I’ve overhead some people discussing that it’s “time to move on,” most Berliners cannot imagine their city without it.
Perhaps what fascinates me most is that the city is constantly moving forward and yet, old buildings rise alongside the new ones, rather than on top of them. There are construction sites all over the city. While Berlin does not feel as “old” as other European cities because majestic fountains don’t decorate every square the way they do in Rome, and grandiose steeples don’t peek out over the rooftops like in Paris, Berlin breathes history in every baroque façade, every cobble-stone alley, every bend in the lead of a soviet sculpture, every abandoned cellar.
“Berlin ist eine Stadt, verdammt dazu, ewig zu werden, niemals zu sein” – Karl Scheffler, 1910.
(Berlin is a city condemned forever to becoming and never to being.)
And therein lies the excitement.
More Blogs From This Author
<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);">Marta is a Sociology and German double major at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, but has a hard time staying within the boundaries of these two disciplines just the way she cannot stay in any one place for a long time. The thirst for knowledge and adventures is her biggest drive; over the course of her college career she has taken classes ranging from film studies to psychology, and she just spent a semester studying Arabic in Jordan. Originally from Lithuania, Marta has been fortunate enough to call many places her home. When she is not devouring books, she coordinates and leads campus tours, serves as a proctor in a first-year student dorm, works at the Admissions office as well as helping out at the Registrar’s office at Bowdoin. In her free time, she can be found either taking photographs or swing dancing. She can’t wait to check out the Berlin lindy hop scene!</span></p>