MPS AIS Germany

AIS Global Experience: Germany

This two week trip abroad will take us to Berlin, Germany where we will immerse ourselves in the rich contemporary art scene while also diving deep into Germany’s complex history. Through artistic approaches of memorialization, protest, and reimagination, we will experience the social impact that art has provided Germany in response to injustice. Students will also learn about the history, geography, politics, culture, art, and literature of the region throughout the course.

April 26

Student Authors: Addie and Colleen

Today we woke up on this glorious morning of the last day and consumed a delectable breakfast. Then we set off for a final farewell to the Haus für Poesie (poetry), where we reflected on our previous hopes and presumed challenges of this trip, which we wrote on our first day in Berlin. We enjoyed this reflection as well as mapping out what we have done so far during the whole trip on a 12 foot long piece of paper. We then set off on this glorious, warmest day yet (and quite sun-shiny) to lunch. We ate up the delicious food at the Indian restaurant, playing cards before and after, while the collapsible roof let in the beautiful sun. Oh, what a gorgeous last day, and final super lunch in Berlin!

After lunch, we went back to our friend Alex at the screen printing workshop. We worked on making a magazine for the group. Each person in each cohort created their own drawing to summarize their time in Berlin. Another student and I created a drawing of the figures on the crosswalk signs, since they were simple yet they captured our everyday travel since we saw them many times per day. After the workshop we returned to Old Town Hotel to have some down time before our final dinner as a whole class. We went to a German restaurant called Nolle Restaurant. My table played a few card games while we waited for our food to be prepared. I ordered a salad with yogurt dressing, grilled chicken, and potatoes. We finished it off with some dessert and headed back to the hotel for our final information session. Then we all proceeded to prepare ourselves for the big travel day we have ahead.

April 25

Student Author: Sara O.

Hello from Berlin. It’s crazy to think how fast time has gone by and our trip is almost over, but it has been amazing! We first started the day by getting ready based off the weather report from Megan, and then Zayba and I headed down to breakfast! We then hopped on the M4 towards Alexanderplatz to see the East Side Gallery. This is the longest piece of the Berlin Wall left, and art and murals done on the wall were created one to two years after the wall came down, and restored in 2009. The art pieces on the wall represent the feelings that were felt once the wall came down in 1989. I felt like I could really see the feelings of excitement and new beginnings from the people on the East Side, and what they were dreaming of once the wall had come down. After our group discussion about what we saw and learned from the wall, we took a bus to the graffiti workshop! There, we met our guide, Willy. He gave us some background on the activity we would be doing.

We split up in two groups and started designing canvas ideas for our graffiti art. Our group, the Camels which stands for Chloe, Akshita, MJ, Elsa, Lilli, and Sara, designed an array of symbols that represents moments on our trip so far. These included a pretzel, rats, and our leader Megan. Once we sketched, we put on our protective clothing and started drawing on the canvas! With some help from Willy it turned out great!

We then started to make our way to our last DIY launch of the trip. at a food hall with a farmers market spin on it. Zayba, Colleen and I went to a little stand and got some really good pasta! We then walked around to look for a sweet treat. I got some of the best tiramisu I’ve ever had, and they got chocolate croissants. Then we had to leave to catch the bus to Museum Island. Once we got to the bus stop, it was running late and we didn’t have time to spare. so as we started walking to the next stop, we saw the bus from afar. We then started running down the block to catch this bus! Finally we did, and we got on for a few stops to our destination. There were three museums to choose from (hence the name), so you got to pick two out of three to go to. I picked the “Old” and “New” Museum. We spent about 90 minutes at each one. Once we regrouped, Rosa and I walked around the cathedral and fountain area. We then took the M4 to the M2 to dinner at a Thai restaurant. I got the massaman curry and also chicken, it was so good! To pass the time, we played card games (lots of them!). After dinner we walked back to the hotel, and did our “grip” debrief. After this, we celebrated Hannah’s birthday in the common room. Then we headed back up to our rooms to start packing to come back to Farmington! It was a great day!

Student Author: Rosa

This morning we met our sustainability tour guide, Vasylysa. Whenever we talk about sustainability, we commonly define it as “reusing, recycling, and renewing resources”, “strengthening awareness to nature and environment” and “green.” But today, I gained a new and unique perspective on sustainability from the tour.

Vasylysa said “as a generation gets older, less and less people will ask about the generation’s past and listen to their stories. Sustainability is a way to spread those stories and allows the stories to be heard”.

When building a residency or a community, sustainability is a key factor that unites a group of people with similar interests together. Along the tour, we visited shared spaces where people develop community gardens and host events to form special and close relationships. Because Berlin had experienced such a cruel period of time, where all the buildings turned into rubble and personal connections broke down, the people from this city value more and recognize the importance of forming bonds between each other. The sustainable apartment buildings, public facilities, street art, and graffiti, all contributed to the inclusivity of the city. making all citizens feel embraced and welcomed.

After we said goodbye to Vasylysa, we went to our favorite mall, Mall of Berlin, for lunch. In the food court, there were all types of cuisine from different countries. We had a DIY lunch and had a short shopping time around the mall. In the afternoon we headed to Museum Island.

Student Author: Shae

Hey everyone!! It’s Shae and I am here to tell you all about our afternoon and second to last day in Berlin (😥). At Museum Island we met up with the Bretzel group. We each picked two museums to visit for our afternoon. I chose to go to the Bode and the Altes museums. The Altes Museum highlighted ancient Greek art history and how Greek society used art, mainly ceramics and sculpture, to tell stories about the human experience. I was extremely impressed by the art, as all of the art was extremely detailed and realistic. I was able to recognize how my learning in class was reflected through the art at the museum, as the engravings in the ceramic pieces heavily connected to how Richard Wagner, a musician and philosopher, believed that art could replace religion as a societal compass since it could portray myths and the human experience. Unfortunately, they Bode Museum unexpectedly closed before I got there, so I was not able to see it.

After we wrapped up at the museums, the groups parted ways and we all headed to dinner. Our group went to a Japanese restaurant. I got dumplings and sushi and my food was delicious!! Then, we celebrated Hannah’s birthday with some ice cream, did our daily reflection, and headed to get ready for bed. It was an amazing day and I never want to leave Berlin!

April 24

Student Author: Tiqa

A sudden gust of wind shakes the branches of trees scattering a swirl of leaves that shimmer eerily in the fragile light. I hum the somberness of Chet Baker to myself while mastering the art of layering monochromatic clothing. My corporality emerges as I paint my canvas in shades of Berlin. Shades of Mystery dissemblance and compensation. I begin every day finding myself immersed in the juxtaposition of an optimistic and ambiguous attitude. We are more than our disguises, perchance, and the city is our source of escapism. The city is where we unravel the layers of grief, encapsulating its memories within the walls of time, breathing life into spaces and souls. The ethos of “don’t look back, look forward” in the wake of Germany’s post world reconstruction period, epitomized by “Volkswagen,” reverberates through contemporary society, leaving an indelible mark on art and social justice. Artists, architects, and activists alike are challenged to break free from the constraints of the past and forge new paths towards progress and equality. This ethos is Berlin’s most palpable narrative – where history pulsates with the promise of progress, where divinity lies in its enigmatic embrace. Berlin. Brisk. Bracing. Beguiling. Beat. Beat on.

Student Author: Emily B.

Hallo from Berlin! This morning we woke up around 8:00 a.m. and had some breakfast before we headed to the East Side Gallery, which is 118 street artists from 21 different countries that came and displayed their work after the fall of the Berlin wall. They did their work in the remaining standing part of the wall. Many artists used their space on the wall to express their emotions towards the fall of the wall and now their freedom. In 2009 the wall was painted over with white paint due to the artists’ work not having primer on it, so it was washed away from weather conditions. The wall was so cool with so many different pieces of art.

After the wall exhibits we went to the graffiti workshop with Willy to learn how to create graffiti and all of the different styles of it. Willy also gave us some history on graffiti. I really enjoyed this workshop and so did everyone else. It was really fun to be able to create our own designs before we started painting and then we all combined our ideas together to create a collaborative piece. Our piece was PxBerlin and inside the letters was something different we have seen or done this trip so far. The piece we created was unique because each of us took part in it and we all worked together. It was so fun to all be in the protective suits and masks because we all looked so funny and we took so many fun pictures, which made an amazing experience I will never forget. I am having such a good time here. Everyone is branching out and talking to new people. I am so grateful for all the new friendships I have made. Guten tag from Berlin!

Student Author: Charlotte A.

Following our graffiti workshop we went to lunch at Markthalle. There were so many amazing local food vendors to choose from. Afterward, we went to the Book Burning Memorial, the memorial was an underground empty bookcase to honor all the lost books. The memorial was incredibly powerful to witness and made me reflect on the importance of reading. It made me grateful for the freedom I have to read whatever I want in my life, especially as we discuss the current book bans.

Next we went to Neue Wache, where there is a replica of a sculpture made by Käthe Kollwitz which depicts a mother with her dead son. There was only a skylight to illuminate the room, so the experience was very intense and impactful as you sit in the large room alone with the grieving sculpture.

Then we stepped into the Volkswagen exhibit where we were able to enjoy the cool vintage cars as well as listen to music from the different eras. Finally we stopped into the Academy of Arts to see the art in the cellar of the master students in the 1950s. In the cellar, the history was palpable as we viewed the exquisite artwork on the walls. It was a truly unique German experience. We got to end the day with some yummy schnitzel to wrap up an amazing day. 

April 23

Student Authors: Madeleine and Liza

Hallo from Deutschland! Today, we woke up to a beautiful sunny day. We had our breakfast in the hotel, along with a big cup of coffee to start our day. We took a 30-minute ride on the tram and S-Bahn, where we arrived in Western Berlin. We got our first German pretzel at the station, which was a 7 out of 10. We then met our guide, Rob, and started our Teufelsberg guided art walk. It was really nice to reconnect with nature after being in busy Berlin for the past week. The hill we hiked – which could be translated to Devil’s Hill – was man-made as it was a dumping ground for rubble after World War II. It was impactful to me walking on such destruction while surrounded by such beauty. Rob talked to us about the differences between graffiti and street art and their origins. We got to enjoy a croissant snack at the top of the hike. We walked through the buildings at the top; every surface was covered with art.

We climbed to the top of one of the buildings and enjoyed a beautiful view of all of Berlin. We said goodbye to our tour guide and made the trek back down to the S-Bahn station. We took the S-Bahn back into the city and had time for lunch and shopping at the Bikini Berlin Mall. We then visited a church that had been heavily destroyed during World War II. It is so fascinating to see so much history everywhere you look around the city. We had about an hour to rest at the hotel before heading out to dinner, where we enjoyed some delicious Korean food. One of our favorite things about this trip has been being able to try so many different cuisines. We ended our day with our daily debrief, reflecting on what we have experienced today. Tschüss!

Student Author: Chloe

Today, we started the day off with a coffee run at Alexanderplatz. Then we took the M5 bus to Tempelhof. Tempelhof is a former Berlin airport, which is no longer operative. It has been repurposed into a community space. It was very large and spacious, and we discussed how we would repurpose a similar space back at home. Tempelhof inspired many of us to think of how to repurpose space and how meaningful a place can be for a community. We had DIY lunch at a nearby neighborhood (menu varied from Sudanese to Mexican).

After lunch, we had a tour and info session of Impact Hub and learned about its sustainability and community values. Impact Hub and a communal/shared working space was a new concept for me to know of, and it was endearing to see how people build off of each other’s help and energy. After Impact Hub, we returned to the Old Town Hotel and had some free time. Some of us stayed at the hotel, others went out to either grocery shop, fetch coffee, or candy-shop (Swedish candy!). We had Korean food for dinner and Kenny (one of our Atlas group leaders) joined us.

April 22

Student Author: Mieke

Hello from Germany. Today, we visited and learned about Impact Hub Berlin. It is a co-working space made out of 70% of reused and recycled material. They had really cool phone booths and nap areas throughout the office space. They maximize the use of open space to influence collaboration. They also have locations in 60+ countries all over the world and continue to build and influence a more sustainable future. During lunch, we experienced the most unexpected downfall: hail. Thankfully, we got to sit in a coffee shop.

Next, we went to Checkpoint Charlie. It was really cool to see where the border between East and West Berlin was. The border was there to keep people from East Berlin from entering West Berlin. Then we went to the Topographie des Terrors where we learned about how Hitler came into power and the damage that he did to Germany. Finally, we went to an authentic Chinese restaurant by the river called Ming Dynastie. Rosa and Rui were nice enough to pick our dinner menu because they are from China, and they knew what would taste yummy. Overall, the day was good, especially because we got to finally pick up some German chocolates before we closed out the night. See you all soon!

Student Author: Akshita

Hallo from Berlin!! Today, we started off our day with a hike and graffiti tour. We hiked up to the top of a hill where there used to be a U.S. watchtower to spy on Russia (which was abandoned after the Berlin Wall came down). This is now a famous graffiti site where street artists from all around Berlin share their creations. Our tour guide, Rob, told us all about the history of graffiti as well as how it is seen today. We then climbed up the abandoned tower for a stunning view of the Berlin skyline.

In the afternoon, we visited a museum called the Topographie des Terrors. At this museum, we were able to learn lots of new information about the infrastructure behind the Nazi party. We were able to make many connections between this experience and our in-class learning, as well as reflect on humanity as a whole. In the evening, we visited a chocolate store called Rausch. It was full of a variety of chocolates and the perfect sweet treats. For dinner, we had Chinese food, which was family-style. It was delicious overall, amazing day. Auf wiedersehen!

Student Author: Sofia

We had a late start today. My group, Bretzles, left the hotel around 9:30. We were not told where we were going, but like every morning we booked the M4 tram to Alexanderplatz to transfer to an above ground train. 30 minutes later, filled by my immersion in my book, we found ourselves at the Olympic stadium. This stadium housed the 1936 Olympics. Our morning activity, however, would be at a nearby building. We climbed a large hill while I was talking the whole time- making me really out of breath.  At the top, there was an abandoned CIA-listening spy tower used until the wall came down to interpret signals. Today, it is a place full of street art! As we walked up the building’s acoustic tower, it started to hail! I was freezing, so we started to leave after a few minutes. Next we took the train back to a more urban part of the city. We ate lunch at a mall and had some time to shop afterward.  We went to the Kaiser Wilhelm Church. It was badly damaged during WW2, so not a lot of it remains. For the last activity of the day, we went to the Topography Of Terror museum.  This museum focused on the Nazis rise to power and the atrocities they committed. The other cohort was also there. To take a mental break, we went to a chocolate shop called Rausch. Suffice it to say that we all spent lots of euros on sweets. Finally, for dinner, we ate really good Chinese food! 

April 21

Student Author: Elizabeth

Today was more chill than yesterday. I started off my morning by talking to Dr. Doyle about how WWII ended. We then left at 8:45 a.m. for the art and sound therapy workshop. Half the group did art as the East Side and half of the group did art as the West Side. The West side could talk freely and collaborate with whatever materials they wanted, but the East Side had their paper split into sections that only allowed one person to work without collaboration. Plus, they only had neutral-colored art materials. Eventually, we got to put them all together, color them in neutral colors, and unify them. It was an interesting visual representation of the reunification between the East and the West.

A question was posed about whether the original artists wanted their things changed, and it got me thinking about whether some East Berliners wanted to move back or not. Since they were already so used to their routine, would they even want to leave?

Next, we went to a flea market, which had a ton of things. There had to be about a hundred vendors there, but I didn’t buy anything because I didn’t have cash. There were clothes, cameras, rings, and a lot of other hand-made jewelry.

Finally, we went to a workshop where we were instructed to make our own map of Berlin. It honestly really threw me off because Berlin has a single map, which I think is the point of a map. However, she explained that it could be a map of what we saw, heard, felt, tasted, and/or smelled. So I put all the landmarks that I remembered down. Unfortunately, my memory is really bad so I ended up placing four big ones down and leaving it at that.

All in all, today was good. It was definitely less dense and lighter than the previous days. It was a welcome change, and I can’t wait to run tomorrow!

Student Author: Collette

It’s Colette on day 8 of the Berlin trip! I hope everyone is doing great back in Farmington or wherever you are. Life has been pretty great in Berlin. We have been exploring and experiencing a lot, too.

Today, we started our morning at the RiWok Rising, where we made our own maps of Berlin. It was interesting to see everyone’s map on the board and how varied in style and focus it was. Some were focused on the animals they saw; some focused on their favorite places. We all had different perceptions of Berlin. After that, we headed to a vegan burger place called VEG’D. I enjoyed my burger and it was very new because it was my first time having a vegan chicken. It surprisingly tasted like chicken.

After lunch, we headed back to our hotel, where we met a group of people who supported people through music and art therapy. As a student who wants to do art therapy in the future, it was really intriguing and engaging in the activity they prepared for us. The activity was really cool because, though we didn’t realize it in the first place, the activity actually referenced the separation of East and West Berlin and the reunification that followed.

We then headed to a flea market where we were able to shop. I enjoyed spending time in the market and it was amazing how diverse the community was and the various things they sold. I think it was one of the first times seeing such a big population of people together. For dinner we got food from an Italian restaurant and to-goed it to eat it on the floor of the laundromat. So fun.

April 20

Student Author: Scarlett

Hallo Comrades! This is Scarlett reporting live from Berlin.

We started the day off with a delish hotel breakfast; I had Nutella toast and coffee. It was a very chill morning, as we were leaving later than usual today. On our way to our first museum, we stopped at Alexanderplatz for coffee, it was too cold for ice drinks so I got an oat cappuccino. Our first experience today was at the Deja Vu Museum. It was full of optical illusions. I was inspired by how creative all the exhibits were, and I am sure I will look back on this innovation when making my own art.

MPS students at the Deja Vu Museum in Berlin

Afterwards, we had a DIY lunch. Sara, Colleen, Collette, and I went to Peter Pane. It was so cute inside and our waitress was super nice. I ordered a chicken burger. The food was so good, and it was definitely a 10/10 experience. After eating, we wandered around a flea market, where I bought a much-needed hat and a scarf. I looked very stylish. We then headed over to the Jewish Museum Berlin. It was a large museum with a breadth of info on Judaism. There were many art pieces and memorials to pivotal events such as the Holocaust. My favorite part was an exhibit on music, where you could listen to songs such as a wedding ceremony and blessings before and after the Torah reading.

After we were all done looking around, we reflected on the beautiful museum garden. We then headed to Checkpoint Charlie, a preserved checkpoint on the Berlin Wall. We were too hungry to properly appreciate it, so we soon headed to the gift shop. After a little shopping break, we headed to dinner at Schoenbrunn, a German-Austrian restaurant. I got a celery root schnitzel, which I was skeptical of, but it was quite good. Now we are back in the hotel, our bellies and hearts full after another glorious day.

Student Author: Sanvi

Hello from Berlin! We started the day off by going to the DeJa Vu Museum. I loved exploring the different optical illusions and seeing all the different ways mirrors and flashing lights can be viewed by the human eye. It felt good to relax a little bit after all of our long, jam-packed days full of knowledge and history.

MPS students outside the Deja Vu Museum in Berlin

Our next stop was the Berlin Jewish Museum. It’s crazy to think about how much I learned in the hour and a half that we spent there. I was able to deepen my understanding of these topics, feeling all of the emotions just by strolling through the different floors. Lunch followed that, and we were allowed to pick what food we wanted within a food court. Personally, the meals here have made me closer to people I’ve never talked to before. I’ve genuinely enjoyed all the laughs, the card games, and the close bonds I’ve made throughout this trip as a whole. The afternoon was laid back, consisting of laundry and trips to the supermarket. Today ended off with trying Greek food, a cuisine I’ve never had but am grateful I was able to try. I absolutely loved it and am glad I had the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone. I’m so excited to see what tomorrow brings!

April 19

Student Author: Zayba

Hello from Berlin!

This morning, our cohort headed straight to Drucken3000 for a screen printing workshop. We learned a lot about the screen printing culture in Berlin and were given the opportunity to make our own screen print templates. It’s amazing to be in a place that has art woven into every facet of life; whether it be signage at the airport, street poles, or bathroom stalls, it is literally everywhere. We had a lot of fun doing the workshop but we were starting to get hungry and headed over to a pizza place for lunch.

I noticed a few interesting things about pizza restaurants in Germany: they’re all intensely decorated, you order personal pizzas, and you eat the pizzas with fork and knife. Anyway, we played a 20-minute game of UNO, and no one ended up winning until our food came. The bathrooms and basement of the restaurant were insane, there is a huge mural of a shark and so many stickers and other graffiti, which also cover all the streets of Berlin. Then, we headed to the Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe.

We had already visited this memorial yesterday, but instead of having a guided tour, we were given time to visit the memorials individually (including the Memorial for the Roma and Sinti and the Memorial for the Persecuted Homosexuals). We had a thoughtful discussion about the differences between our visits and how context, timing, and even weather shape these experiences. Yesterday, it was sunny and lukewarm, while today was cold with constant downpours. We all agreed that today, the memorials had a far more powerful impact on us. After we visited the memorials, we headed to the Reichstag, the German Congress building. I was super excited to visit as this building has repeatedly been at the center of numerous major historical events in Germany, such as the coup that solidified Nazi Rule and the art piece by Ai Wei Wei, which discussed Germany’s relationship with immigration. The building was beautiful, but what I really noticed was the overwhelming feeling of almost walking through history! Soon, we ended the audio tour and headed over to the central shopping center for an hour before dinner. We all enjoyed walking around and decompressing before dinner, which was at a Greek restaurant. The evening is one of our favorite parts of the day, as we all get the opportunity to talk and learn about each other over good food, which are often new cuisines for us.

Our days here are definitely jam packed and the balance between relaxing and learning is perfectly kept. Over these past 5 days, I have had some of the most fun in my life, while also learning the most I ever have in this amount of time.

April 18

Student Author: Margaret J.

Hi, Porter’s People! The morning started off bright and sunny as we made our way to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. This was eye-opening as we fully immersed ourselves and our emotions in this experience to gain insight into the past. While it was overwhelming at the moment, we were able to lean on each other for support. During this time, we saw three other memorials that we will explore more tomorrow.

Then, it was time for DIY lunch! In the middle of the Plaza sat a huge food court with all types of cuisine. Elsa, Lilli and I indulged in sushi and tacos; weird combo right?! Satiated and ready for the next activity we took a tour of the Haus der Statistik where we discussed architecture and how space can be transformed to create community. Ready for dinner, we headed to the center of Alexanderplatz and ate at Valpiano, a delicious pasta restaurant!

Lastly, we walked 10 minutes, running into the Schnitzels, to Monsterkabinett to end off our day with some creepy moving creatures and a few screams! I am currently working on a project with bottle caps found around Berlin so stay tuned! We had an amazing day and are excited for tomorrow!

Student Author: Charlotte I.

Today was such a busy day. I started the day with Shae and Marg in our room, and all three of us failed to go on the morning run with Mr. Doyle. After breakfast, we took the U-Bahn (subway) to meet up with our tour guide, Holger, who took us around Alexanderplatz and showed us around the Berlin Wall. Today was so cool because so much of what we learned from the lectures was sitting right in front of us.

After the tour, we took shelter from the cold in a small café nearby, where I tried my first hot coffee and surprisingly liked it. It was a really nice reflecting moment for all of us to revive ourselves with caffeine, chocolate muffins, and rounds of playing cards. After our break, we headed to a screen printing workshop where we learned about the art of mass-printed art that was used around the WW2 period, and we even got to try some of our own. I made a peace sign for my sister because the workshop reminded me of her.

After the workshop and a salad bar dinner, we headed to the night’s highlight. Tucked away in a grungy back alleyway was a monster tour. The highlight was definitely Emily and I screaming as an animatronic spider crawled towards us. We now end the day cuddling and laughing with my best friends, and I couldn’t be more grateful. See you in a week!

April 17

Student Author: Lilli

Hello, MPS. I am just sending an update from the AIS-global course. As you know, we are exploring Berlin, Germany, and had an amazing day 3!

After we got ready, we rode the U-Bahn to meet our tour guide Holgar. Holgar took us around Alexanderplatz and showed us an old church and other important monuments that are left in Berlin from World War 2.

As a group, we headed to the Berlin Wall Memorial. We learned about and visited the remains of the wall and had discussions about the divide of East and West Berlin.

After we finished our tour we headed to a new area for our DIY lunch. My friends and I went to a great Turkish restaurant. We hit some road blocks such as communicating with our waiter who spoke no English. With all our hard work we finished our yummy lunch and headed to a wonderful huge art store called Modulor where we shopped around and I found some coloring books that I bought and have spent time coloring!

We crossed the street and spent some time in the community garden. I used the local weeds and flowers to create art in my art journal. After exploring the garden and, of course, taking tons of photos, we headed to dinner, where we enjoyed some burgers!

When we returned to the hotel, our travel group did our nightly reflection and prepared for our day tomorrow as we will be visiting the memorial for murdered Jews of Europe.

Students Author: Mel

Hi there, people! Our day started off great – we had no sleeping beauties today, and everyone was on time! Everyone made it to the art store in one piece, which was also great – we’re starting to get the hang of all this public transport. Seriously, Berlin is a big city, and there are loads of people here, but there’s only 1/3 the amount of cars here because of all the public transport and how efficient it is at getting around. It’s also insanely beautiful here. There’s so much greenery and vegetation, more than you could ever expect from a big city like Berlin. I don’t know if the previous blog entry said that, but even if it did I want to reiterate: this city is stunning. Coming from someone who’s lived in another European City most of their life (cries in Londoner), this place is like an urban utopia.

After the art shop, we took our newly acquired supplies literally across the street to the communal garden, where we spoke to one of the wonderful volunteer caretakers and learned more about the space – like how it was built atop the rubble of a mall that had been bombed and destroyed during WW2. That’s something we knew about heading in, but we are only really grasping actually being here and learning from the locals. The effects of WW2 are everywhere; they’re ingrained into Berlin’s society, even to this day. East Berlin has much more modern architecture; buildings from under Soviet rule have been protected and repurposed, which was our next activity. We met up with another local who taught us more about the housing and architecture of East Berlin.

Many residences were repurposed Soviet-constructed buildings from when Berlin was split in two following WW2. Many of the West Side buildings felt more “historic,” even though many East Side buildings are historic also. They’re more ornate, though. Traditionally decorative. Lunch was a whole affair, too – we were given a budget and told “be free!” We went off to find our own meals. Everyone found success – everyone ate! Some spent more than others (apologies, Elizabeth, we’re all a little socially awkward, it seems!), but no one went hungry.

Later in the afternoon, we were given time to go thrifting and do some shopping which it’s safe to say we all enjoyed. On the way back to the hotel, though, Tessa and Mieka didn’t get off the tram in time and got stuck. No worries, though! When stuck on a tram, get off on the next platform and wait to be collected! Now we know. Anyway, we headed back to our hotel to drop some of our things off before dinner and headed out to eat again. It was a nice, short walk, and we sat outside to eat. It was a little chilly, so we were worried about that, but there were heat lamps outside.

April 16

Student Author: Elsa P.

HELLO PORTER’S! Willkommen in Deutschland!

We arrived happy and healthy to our delightful hotel room and slumbered well through the night. So well, in fact, we (Hannah & I) overslept about an hour and a half more than we meant. All was well, however, as we scampered onwards, rolls in hand for an on-the-go breakfast towards our meeting point at The House of Poetry! No poetry, however, was performed or written in said house. It was our orientation area, and we wrote all about things we know and wondered about our current city – Berlin! We knew a fair amount, but we still have much to learn. Once we discussed our knowings, unknowings, wonderings, and expertise, we traveled to our lunch spot.

After lunch, I shared some drawing skills with MJ, and we discussed techniques for drawing our environment. But I digress. We then returned to the area from before to walk through the “Heavy Metal in the GDR” museum exhibit. The GDR, or German Democratic Republic, was the Soviet-controlled side of Berlin when punk became popular as a rebellion against the controlling communist government. I am a huge fan of punk, so this was awesome! We listened to some sick beats and did a fair amount of head-banging to German metal music.

MPS students outside a museum in Berlin

After that, we took the unbelievably crowded Straßenbahn (public transport) to a museum a few steps away, the Hamburger Museum! And no, not about hamburgers, I promise – it used to be the train terminal for the city of Hamburg. This spectacular museum was actually an old train station which they refurbished. We entered and were greeted by an enormous pit of sand. I was pleased to find the next exhibit very interactive. Very fun.

After a thorough 90-minute run through the museum, we departed for our last activity, a boat cruise. I’ll be honest, I did feel like a tourist, but it was so fun. Shae, Hannah, Char, Addie, Sofia, and I all talked and learned more about each other while surveying Berlin and being bothered by the freezing wind (I am proud to say we were the only ones left outside by the end). We also waved to every single person there on the bridges and streets nearby and got many waves and “Hallo”s back! How cute!! Ich liebe Berlin!

MPS students on a river cruise in Berlin

Our dinner reservation was at a restaurant called Umami, a very interesting name that prompted lots of talk from taste buds, and we feasted on a delicious Thai fusion dinner. MJ, Lilli, and I all shared a side of sweet potato fries that came with THE MOST DELECTABLE sauce ever. Period. We ordered so much of it to put onto our own meals. Then, we departed and returned to our lovely local hotel.

Now Hannah and I are lying on the floor frantically writing these blog posts before we return to our comfy bed. Wish us luck on not oversleeping again!

Loads of love and rock on, Elsa

(PS. Good luck JV Lax in our upcoming games! Miss you all loads)

Student Author: Hannah S.

Hello from Deutschland!

This was our very first full day in Germany! Although yesterday felt like a full day. It was a little cold – the kind of cold where you don’t realize the cold until your nose starts running. We visited Haus für Poesie – that’s the location where we had our orientation – which just involved talking about what we were excited/nervous about. It also involved introducing everyone’s names with a funny little way to remember them. I went with the classic “Hannah Banana,” but that’s so cliché, so if I could do it again, I would say, “It’s a palindrome, so as long as you remember Han, you can remember nah.”

Then, we split into our two cohort/traveling groups: Schnitzel and Pretzel. I am a proud Schnitzel. We went our separate ways: the Pretzels went to the location we were supposed to go to, and the Schnitzels, in classic Schnitzel fashion, took a little detour! The Haus für Poesie is located in the center of buildings called Kulturbrauerei, an old brewery. It has that old brick building vibe. Very beautiful. We visited a pop-up Hard Rock/metal museum. It was interactive and included a real-life electric guitar you could hold and rock with (which I sure did) and a sound booth you could go in that replicated what a rock concert sounds like. Spoiler alert: very loud.

After a quick group photo in front of the museum, we headed to lunch. It was a noodle place. I had Udon Soup ‘N Pork. It was delish. I also had a ginger ale that most certainly checked the ginger box (this was NOT Canada dry). It was quite good, though and I was thirsty. At lunch, people played cards, but I read because I was exhausted. My book’s a thriller, so it’s keeping me on my toes, which means that it also keeps me awake during meal times.

MPS student playing cards during lunch

After lunch, we headed to the Hamburger Bahnhof museum for an hour and a half. The museum is a modern art museum. The highlight of the museum was an interactive exhibit having to do with music and the way that sound travels. There were giant guitar strings and holes in the wall to yell into and the sound reverberated throughout the room. I then went to a coffee shop with Shae and Char that was inside the museum. I don’t like coffee, so I got this magical concoction of chocolate milk and vanilla ice cream. It was guzzled down in seconds.

After we finished our drinks, we left the museum and headed on a boat tour. We sat on the top of the boat, which was cold and wet. It was also a blast – lots of jokes, giggles and information. Overall, it was super enjoyable. The best part was waving to people while on the water. I gained like 200 new BFFS! Then we headed to dinner, where I had a mouth-wateringly good burger, fries, and Cola (that’s what they say in Germany – “Cola,” not “Coke”)! I was so full and happy at dinner. Then we left the restaurant and took the Tram back to the hotel. While walking to the Tram we made sure to avoid J-walking.

Loads of love! Hannah

P.S. Go Porter’s Softball win all the games!


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