Wednesday, March 30, 2011

This Life is Absurd

So. There is really no excuse for my not having posted in over two months.

Oh wait, yes there is.

Since my last post, I have visited 12 different cities in Europe, including but not limited to: Berlin, Milan, London, Rome, Munich, Dublin, and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

It is absolutely not real life to be traversing Europe like this. It's incredible. And mind-blowingly expensive, but I generally just chalk it up to this being the best learning experience of my life so far.

I do not even know where to begin. It seems most logical to begin this update by talking about Berlin. Not only was it the first real trip I took since being in Geneva, it has been my favorite place in Europe so far, by far.

I ventured to Deutschland with Riley, a good friend from the program. He has a friend (Dino) who lives in Berlin, and it made such a difference to be shown around the city by a true Berliner. Although the weather was less than pleasant, I had the time of my life. I fell in love with German food, German beer, and the German people. Although it's hard to pick my favorite part of Berlin, it was incredible to be in a city with such recent, hugely important history. We spent most of our time in the old East Berlin, walking around for hours and hours. Walking under the Brandenburger Tor, especially in the context of taking several classes here about European history, was extraordinary.

Brandenburger Tor at night!
Riley and me in front of Brandenburger on a rainy day. Not sure about the American flag?
I could go on and on and on about Berlin. If I had a chance to live there someday, I would absolutely consider it. But first I have to learn German, which has replaced Mandarin as the next language I want to tackle (after I magically become fluent in French, that is). After hearing German spoken throughout the streets of Berlin, I think it may be my favorite language. There's something so undeniably smart and sharp about it.

Naturally (or as the Germans always say, natürlich), we visited the East Side Gallery, one of the last remaining stretches of the Berlin Wall. Pretty insane to walk along it and think that, less than 25 years ago, people were literally forced to stay within the confines of a 12-foot high wall. People walked to work every day alongside the wall, knowing that life a few feet away was entirely different. I am so proud to have a piece of this wall at the Freedom Center in Cincinnati, and I would encourage anyone to go see it.

Famous Honecker-Brezhnev kiss, famous graffiti.

"Many small people who in many small places do many small things that can alter the face of the world."
So now, almost two months later, Berlin is still easily my favorite city. There’s just too much to love about it. And it’s exponentially more affordable than Genf (the German word for Geneva).

How could anyone not love Berlin with street art like this?
Stay tuned for the next post, which will hopefully come around soon and will probably include some talk about my first adventures into Italia!

For now, I’d just like to end with some current goings-on. At this moment I am kicking myself for not updating on a daily or near-daily basis. Because now, everything is going to be strangely out of order and possibly nonsensical to read. Apologies!

In a few days, I will have been in Geneva (and elsewhere in Europe) for three entire months. It is so hard to believe. Although people said this to me countless times before I left, it truly flies by. As I am closing in on the last month of this study abroad experience, I am missing home (and UC especially!) so much. It’s strange how being in some of the most beautiful, incredible places in the world can make you appreciate how good it is to be home.

But there’s no doubt that I am about to make this last month unforgettable. Although several term papers and exams threaten to put a damper on things, I’m confident I’ll have an absolute blast. I also have major plans to catch up on the rest of my travels and life experiences in the next few days.

As for tomorrow, my International Organizations class is catching the bus over to the World Trade Organization to hear a talk by Dr. Patrick Low, the Chief Economist of the WTO. Dr. Low just so happens to be the professor of another course I am taking here, European Economic Systems. No big deal, right? To be taught by such qualified and prominent people in the realm of international relations is pretty unimaginable. But here I am, living this crazy life.

And absolutely loving it.

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