Scavenger hunts, trains engines, and a lot of rain

I can’t believe I only have one week left in this beautiful city. The past three weeks have gone by so fast. I’ve accomplished and seen so much, but there is still a lot left on my bucket list. Hopefully this weekend I will be able to check a few more things off.

On Wednesday, I did my usual morning routine (wake up, get ready, eat Müsli, drink coffee) and headed to HU. I had my morning Unterricht, as usual. For lunch, my friends and I usually meet up and go somewhere as a group, but this afternoon was different. I, along with two friends who are in the same Nachmittags group as I am, had to go to Kreuzberg and do a Stadtralley, which was basically a scavenger hunt across a specific neighborhood in Berlin. Kreuzberg is an interesting part of the city of Berlin. It’s a poor area, but there are lots of cultures represented in the area, as seen by the various restaurants and bakeries in the area. It’s known for it’s alternative scene and is the home of the punk movement in Berlin. You can definitely tell that it’s a poorer area, but it is still beautiful and interesting.

So for our Stadtralley, we had a folder full of different directions and clues, and we had to navigate our way through Kreuzberg using these directions and clues. It was quite difficult because the directions were not the more helpful. Also, it turned out that the first two places we were supposed to find were no longer there.

Location 1: Betahaus, which was under construction
Stopping for lunch and simultaneously finding out that Location 2, the building behind us (called the Denkerei), closed in March

We continued on our Stadtralley for about another hour and a half before we gave up because we kept getting lost. We did, however, end up at a nice little cafe.

Location 3: Schulltheiss, also closed at the moment
At a random cafe after giving up on the Stadtralley

That evening, I met up with Jesse and Claudio to see a movie in Ostkreuz. (Adam got woefully lost and couldn’t make it.) We saw Cleo, which is a cute comedy (with a little bit of romance) that was filmed here in Berlin. I really enjoyed the movie, and was intrigued by the parts of Berlin it showed, places I didn’t know existed. After the movie, it was pouring rain, so we booked it to the Bahnhof and headed home.

My Thursday morning was like every other morning (I’m very much into a routine here), but I did happen to get to HU a bit early, so I used the extra time to catch up with my friend, Clara, and practice some vocab.

During my class, we read a story about two students who convince a whole town that they can make dead people alive again. In the story, the townspeople send letters to the students with money, begging them not to bring their deceased loved ones back to life for one reason or another. My teacher had us then do a role-play trial on whether the actions of the students were moral or immoral and if they should be punished in some way. Each student in the class got a role (I played the town’s doctor), and we went through as if it was a real trial. We didn’t finish the whole thing on Thursday, so we had to press pause and hold off until Friday to finish.

In the afternoon on Friday, I had a seminar. This week, the seminar was about different artists in German history. We talked about Bertold Brecht, Helene Fischer, David Garrett, Marlene Dietrich, plus some other ones. Personally, I was low-key stoked to talk about Helene Fischer, and Atemlos kept playing in my head. I was also thankful to my prior German literature courses for having forced me to read works by Bertold Brecht.

After the seminar, I caught up with two of my friends, and we headed towards the Deutsches Technikmuseum (German Technology Museum). Upon arriving, we found out the museum was closing in an hour, so we did a speed walk through of the place. There was a huuuuge room full of planes and boats and different mechanical parts of each. There was also a room full of just train engines. One exhibit was on different textile types, and showcased all sorts of fabrics and patterns.

Inside the Deutsches Technikmuseum
The sign for the Deutschtes Technikmuseum is a wind turbine propeller

Overall, it was really cool and probably my favorite museum so far, even though I didn’t even end up seeing all of it. We found out after we left that there were two additional buildings in the museum that we didn’t even know existed. If I had another free day, I would probably go back to that museum and spend more time actually being able to read the descriptions instead of just speed-walking through all the exhibits.

The rest of the afternoon was spent hanging out in a nearby park where we people-watched all the people zooming through the park on rented electric scooters, which are the hot, new thing in Berlin.

Today, like usual, I had Unterricht. We continued on with the trial we had started yesterday, which ended up lasting the entire day. It was honestly pretty boring. I pretty much just sat in the corner and doodled. After class, my friends and I went to a vegan burger restaurant. I was a bit apprehensive at first, but the food was actually quite tasty.

My Nachmittag was completely free, so after lunch, I headed to the Jüdisches Museum Berlin (Jewish Museum in Berlin). My host mom reccommended this museum to me, as she knows one the artists whose work is in a current exhibit. It was a really surreal experience. When I traveled to Germany in high school, we visited Dachau, which was a wildly surreal experience, and today’s visit was on a similar level. I liked the format of the Jüdische Museum because it’s more about the interpretation of the museum patron than the information or history about an item. On the lowest level, there are four exhibits; der Garten des Exils (Garden of Exil), Leerstelle des Gedenkens (Memory Void), the Holocaust-Turm (Holocaust Tower), and res·o·nant. Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos from res·o·nant or the Holocaust-Turm.

Explanation for Leerstelle des Gedenkens
Inside the Leerstelle des Gedenkens
Hundreds of these metal faces cover the ground in the Leerstelle des Gedenkens

This is an interactive exhibit, and patrons are encouraged to walk across the metal faces on the ground. Before I got to this point in the museum, I had been hearing weird, metallic, clanging noises from somewhere in the museum, but I didn’t know what from. Coming to this exhibit, I finally figured it out. As you walk across the faces, they move under your weight and clang together. Even when I tried to tread as lightly as possible and on ones that wouldn’t move, I would still hear the clang of metal hitting metal. When you’re walking through the exhibit, the clangs fill the room, but just seconds after you stop moving, the room is eerily silent. The juxtaposition of the noise and the silence was off putting.

Explanation for der Garten des Exils
The camera is straight in this photo. The large cement columns and the ground is slanted.

The Holocaust-Turm was a 24 meter tall room, but room isn’t really a good word for it. It’s an enclosed, triangular space with a floor that is slightly slanted. The walls are 24 meters high, and they are concrete. There is one small window at the apex of the triangle near the ceiling. This space is not air conditioned or heated, and noise from the outside can be heard while inside. Being inside this space was disconcerting because it is so different from anything that I have experienced in my life. It was simultaneously stuffy and suffocating, but also open and airy. The darkness made me feel small, but the light from the window gave me hope. I stood in the room in silence for about 5 minutes, trying to decipher my feelings about the space. I still don’t really understand my feelings about this exhibit, but it was powerful.

res·o·nant is a light and space exhibit. Part of it was closed, so I unfortunately wasn’t able to get the full experience. In this exhibit, there are multiple different rooms, each playing different sound bits and with different kinds of dynamic lighting. I don’t really wholly understand what I was supposed to get out of this specific exhibit, but that might just be because I only got to see parts of it.

There was also a current exhibit called A wie Jüdisch (A as in Jewish), which showcased an aspect of Jewish culture and life for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet. This exhibit was really educational, and I learned a lot of things that I hadn’t known previously.

“A is for Jewish” Exhibit
Hundreds of notecards like this one are hung from the ceiling for patrons to read

As I was getting ready to leave the museum, I realized it had started pouring rain (again). I was not about to get soaked like I did on Wednesday, so I spent some time in the gift shop of the museum. I ended up finding some really cute things at the gift shop. It was still raining once I had completed my purchase, so I put on my rain jacket and walked as fast as I could to the Bahnhof. By the time I got there, water had seeped through my rain jacket and my shirt underneath was wet. I was uncomfortably damp the whole train ride home.

Once at home, I took off the wet clothes, changed into comfy clothes, and have just been hanging out at my home for the evening. I have a big weekend planned, so I need all the energy I can get.

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