So I'm here, safe and sound, and I have to admit, Berlin is amazing. The architecture is an interesting mix of old and new because a lot of buildings were destroyed in the war. It is also a cultural hub, with every kind of ethnic food one could imagine and more döner kebap stands than any other city in the world.
I live in Charlottenburg, which is pretty far from Mitte and where I take class, but I don't mind so much because my host family is super nice, and I live in one of the nicer parts of Berlin. I live with a mom and her daughter, and although I haven't spent much time with them because of orientation stuff and jet lag, they are very warm and welcoming and frequently give hugs, which surprised me at first because Germans are usually not the hugging types.
The other students are great and come from all over the U.S. Last night after we had a big group dinner, a few of us went out to a swing dancing bar because one girl in our group is really quite good. After a while we decided to go to a Mexican bar where, surprisingly they didn't speak any Spanish, unfortunately for me, although I can't even imagine speaking Spanish right now. Deutsch is enough for me. We met some Germans on the S-Bahn on the way back, and they took us to a really interesting club in East Berlin. It looked like an old factory with graffiti everywhere and great music, although the strobe lights were a bit overwhelming after a while. The Germans we were with said that the place isn't even labeled because they want to keep out tourists, so I'm glad we met them because we never would have been able to find it ourselves.
I have my placement test tomorrow, so hopefully I won't bomb it and end up in the beginner's class. So far, speaking German hasn't been too bad. I understand most things, I just have trouble speaking because I get flustered and then it all comes out in one big, grammatically incorrect jumble. I guess I just need to give it time.
One strange thing about Germany is that they have no open container laws, so people just walk the streets and ride the trains drinking beer. I guess it is more like soda or something to them, not something to be abused, but to enjoy. There are also very few homeless people on the streets, which surprised me. I guess "socialism" really does work. I like their mentality :-)
Well, ich müss jetzt schlafen, but I'll post pictures later and keep updating as much as possible.