It's July 5, which means that it's been practically a month since the start of this program. Wait, what?
As if to blatantly remind us that our time here is more than halfway through, last week we had our first (and only) round of midterms in our classes. I keep forgetting that I'm here to also take class - it really feels like one giant, long vacation - and thus probably haven't studied as much as I ought to, but it was a pleasant surprise to find out this week that they didn't turn out badly at all. Still, I've been somewhat rudely reminded that I am here for school, after all, and it's not, unfortunately, a nice 2-month holiday.
Still, there's not much time left for me to enjoy Berlin and I wanted to explore as much as I can before the dreaded date of July 23 comes (the end of the program), so last Friday I decided to visit the Grunewald area of Berlin, roughly a half-hour Bahn ride away from my apartment. Google "Berlin" and you'll get a ton of pictures featuring buildings and lights and the skinny, gigantic Fernsehturm, but Berlin is actually one of the greenest places I've ever been to. Grunewald - "green forest" - was a pleasant escape from the city for the day.
Some of my classmates decided to join the IES Abroad-sponsored trip to the Baltic Sea for the weekend, which I opted out of, but I got to spend time by the water, anyway, so no big loss there, I suppose.
If there's anything I've really discovered about Berlin since I've been here, it's that it definitely isn't the urban, graffiti-covered metropolis you might think of when you hear "Berlin." It's a unique city - you'll find people rushing about the train stations to go to work or school every day, but you'll find equal amounts of people relaxing in a park or near the water, as they were on Friday. I spotted quite a few people simply sunbathing on the sand, having a picnic, or relaxing in hammocks.
I have to keep reminding myself that I do have homework and studying to get done, but Berlin is wonderful in that you never have to go too far to find a place to spend a relaxing few hours.
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<p>I hail from Houston, Texas and study in Austin, Texas, so needless to say, I'm ready to get out of Texas. I study Chemistry and Spanish at the University of Texas at Austin and I like to pretend that I can manage German. This is my second time in Europe and I'm excited for the adventure that awaits!</p>