It's a beautiful day today in Berlin. The air is crisp and the sun is shining, and I'm feeling like I have my bearings once again. I visited Dresden this weekend with my program, and I can't say I know exactly how I feel about the city. It's beautiful, no doubt, but there is something almost eerie about the place. The entire city, more or less, was destroyed in one of the last bombings of World War II, and even though most buildings have been rebuilt in their original style, it is somewhat lacking in authenticity. It feels a bit like Williamsburg, like a recreation of something that used to be, but only a memory or a ghost, not the real deal. In a way, it made me quite sad because I know that the damage could have been avoided, especially since Germany was already losing the war at the time.
Still, I did enjoy my time there, especially outside of the city. Berlin and the surrounding area is pretty flat and more or less geographically uninteresting, but if you travel the 2 hours by train to Dresden, it is geographically a whole new world. On Sunday morning, I paid a visit to this extremely touristy but extremely beautiful little overlook called Bastei. It overlooks the Elbe and these huge rock formations that are apparently great for rock climbing. Then in the afternoon we took a trip to a couple castles nearby and went for a walk in colorfully decorated woods. I don't think I could have asked for a better day (it was beautiful and sunny) and I've had enough of cities for a while, so it was nice to finally be out in the country air. Here's a picture of Bastei:
On Saturday night, we met up with some friends of a friend, and they took us to a club pretty far away from our hostel in a more dangerous looking neighborhood (although I'm sure it was fine). It was alright but not very many people were dancing, and I still think Berlin is one of the best cities for night life around. Still, they played "Single Ladies" by Beyonce so I was pretty happy for a while. I also met this guy who has lived in Dresden all of his life and speaks absolutely no English (great practice for my German!) and had a really interesting conversation with him about growing up in the GDR and what it was like when the wall fell. I feel like I've learned about the topic so much in the classroom, but I haven't actually talked to anyone about it, and I'm surrounded by people who have first-hand experience.
Beyond my weekend excursion, things are going pretty well here in Berlin. I feel like I am developing a much stronger relationship with my host family, and they are always so open and friendly and ready to give me tips whenever I need them. My host mom even gave me a bunch of pamphlets on this extremely famous choreographer Sasha Waltz, and I am now pretty anxious to check out a few of her shows. I also still need to find myself a dance class here in Berlin...It's a lot harder than it seems.
I got an e-mail the other day telling me I had been nominated for the Ford Fellowship at Knox, which is basically a research program where they give you money to get a jump start on your Senior Research. I am working on the application now, but I am having a hard time choosing exactly which direction I would like to go. I know I want to do the research this summer, that I want to deal with cultural linguistics, and that I want to do my research here in Europe while I am working on an organic farm. Not sure where to even begin, but a little more thought and a lot more research will probably lead me to some sort of vague decision.
While I've got to do some Film reading before class. Hope all is well all of your respective locations!