I’m halfway through my time in Berlin, so here is a list of all my favorite things about this city so far.
- I could argue Berlin is the most international city in the world. For one, let’s take into account that one city was controlled by four different nations for a number of years. Want to go a British pub? 20 minutes away in Charlottenburg. Hungry for some French food? Visit the neighborhood of Wedding, a former French district. And there’s nothing like an American burger… I can find one down my block in Zehlendorf. I had known the city of Berlin was split into four of course, but I had only really thought of East Berlin changing, and had never realized the brief control by other nations would actually have a lasting effect on West Berlin.
- Flower shops are everywhere. There are three flower stores I walk past every day on my 3 block walk to the S-Bahn platform.
- Their determination to keep the memory of The Holocaust and and the atrocities in World War II alive, but at the same time to prevent it from happening again is tremendous. In the museums I’ve been to so far, they have these plaques up, that say “No photos of Nazi symbols,” which prevent tourists and attendees from focusing on the Nazis and Hitler. Along with that, the site of Hitler’s bunker was kept secret until 2006. The German government refused to put up a sign or open the bunker to the public to prevent neo-nazis and worshippers from making it a pilgrimage. Today, the bunker remains sealed and looks like an ordinary parking lot a part from a small sign at the corner.
- It is true, the German’s are incredibly environmentally conscious. Some of the ways are obvious and a little incumbent to the typical American, the 3 different bins at every trash can and the lack of dryers in houses. But most of the ways are subtle yet so easy it has me wondering why we don’t do them in America. For example, train and bus doors don’t open unless you push a button, most public lights, like in schools or apartment hallways are motion sensor so they are not on permanently. But my personal favorite is that it is a common habit for Berliners to leave glass bottles outside of trash cans. Besides the abundant cigarette butts, these glass bottles are the only litter you will see. But it’s not really litter because people, mostly homeless, will go around collecting these bottles to make money. And since drinking in public is legal here, those beer bottles stack up on the weekend.
- Doner Kebab. For those of you who are unlucky enough to never had tried this delicious, heaven sent, marvel of food, I pity you. In a crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, perfectly cooked piece of bread, slathered in garlic sauce, spicy sauce, hummus, anything you can dream of, then filled with seasoned meat and topped with lettuce, and then sprinkled with cheese. Doner is amazing and I eat it every day. You will catch me coming home 40 pounds heavier and still smiling because that’s how amazing doner is.
- Stuff! To Do! Every! Day!: This could also be filed under things I don’t like about Berlin because wow is this overwhelming. And the guilt I feel when I’m laying in bed not doing anything. 100 new galleries opening every day, new exhibitions at every museum, all the bookstores and coffee shops, concerts and a walk in every park, restaurants to try….phew.
- Public transportation. Yeah, commuting sucks but being on a train and not worrying about driving gives me time to read and work on homework. Public transportation is specifically great in Berlin because Germans love punctuality which means buses and trains are always on time.
- Art scene. The city of street art means you’re walking through an art museum 24/7. Everyone here is so creative, you can’t help when it rubs off on you. From the people sketching on the bus, to work shopping screen plays in coffee shops, everywhere you turn is an artist working on their next masterpiece.
- All the parks and green areas. This is something I will appreciate much more when it gets warm out, but Berlin is more park than city I swear.
- Berlin is Berlin. You are you. Unlike any other major city, one gets more stares in public for dressing too nice than too sloppy. It’s a city where it’s cool to look unkempt. At the same time, a 86 year old man can walk onto a bus in a wedding dress and I don’t think anyone would look up from their newspapers. Fashion is no fashion, wear whatever you want, no one has any expectations or rules. This applies for bars and clubs too, there isn’t a dress code apart from don’t try hard. As a girl who takes approximately 7 minutes to get ready in the morning, I am at home here.
- Bread and cheese all day every day. I could go days only eating some variation of bread and cheese. And since these two things happen to be my favorite food groups, let’s just say I am doing well.
- Mauerpark Flohmarkt, and any other flea market. Sundays are the best days in Berlin! Everywhere you turn there is a market, like elves come in over night and transform the city. Mauerpark is the best, with rows of stands, live music, karaoke when it’s nice out and the occasional dance show.
- Spatkaufs. Late shops open on almost every street corner. Go in and buy beer or snacks for really cheap, and when it’s nice outside people will just hang out on the street drinking and eating.
Emily Reid is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City double majoring in Journalism and Political Science. She is spending the semester in Berlin, Germany through the ISA Berlin Program.
Disclaimer: Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.