Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Travel day back home!!!

Today I woke up around the same time 9am and did some last minute packing then headed down to go to breakfast. A lot of us were down there and we took another group picture which was great! We went back to grab our bags and head downstairs to leave the hostel. We had to get on the metro, walk down cobblestone, and up stairs with all of our bags one final time. I was so happy that it was the last time but of course dreaded every second! We took the train about ten minutes then hopped on a bus that brought us all he way to the airport. Once we arrived at the airport we got our boarding passes then had to wait in line to check our bags. The line was pretty long but once we got through it everything was easy from here. Ashley, Dr. Shanklin, and I went to the tax free area to get money back for the things we've bought. I wish I had known about this from the begging of the trip because I would've gotten a lot of money back! But getting money back for what I bought in Berlin was still better than nothing! My advice for anyone else going abroad is to remember to ask every store if they do tax free because you never know who does. We waited at the airport for about 2 hours once we got through security. The flight from Berlin to Amsterdam was fine. We arrive in Amsterdam to find out our flight was delayed 3 hours. Now we weren't suppose to leave till 7:30. We waited and waited then it was finally time to leave and head to Atlanta. The flight overall wasn't bad and didn't feel as long as our flight to Paris. I was glad they had movies again of course because they make the time go by a lot faster and its a good way to catch up on movies I haven't seen! 

Finally we land and go through customs and of course we missed our flight to Nashville. We thought that delta was going to give us a hotel room but that didn't happen instead they changed our flights and gave us a food voucher. My flight was scheduled to leave at 8 In the morning some others aren't leaving till noon! This has by far been an experience and I'll be happy once I'm in Memphis in my bed!

Last Day in Berlin!

Today is our last full day in Berlin! I woke up around 9 this morning to start my day because we had a pretty busy day ahead. After I got dressed I headed to the post office to mail a box full of things because I couldn't bring them all home in my luggage. The post office is inside the train station so t wasn't too far. Once I got to the post office I discovered that I couldn't pay card I had to pay in euros. At first I thought okay this isn't bad I'll just go to the bank next door. So I get to the bank with my credit card and try to take out money and my pin doesn't work. I was immediately really just frustrated and mad because I walked all the way there for nothing. Now I had to walk back to get my other card and our class was meeting with Dr. V to talk about finalizing our research. So I met with the class and decided to wait and go back after our guest speaker. Our guest speaker was a professor from Italy and she talked about the European Union and what it is, it's function, and issues that it is facing currently. I actually learned a lot from her presentation because prior I really knew nothing about it because we don't talk about that much at home because it's not our government. After her presentation Dr. V took us all to lunch at an Indian restaurant close to the hostel. It was my first time trying Indian food!

 I had mixed feelings about it at first but it wasn't bad it was good. I don't think I'd choose to eat it again though, just because I don't really like that kind of taste in food but it was still not bad. I'm glad I tried it. After lunch I ran over to the post office and finally shipped my box! I was so relieved to get that done. I then ran back to the hostel because we were leaving to go to the German parliament in 10 minutes. I did make it back on time! This was our last full group excursion on the trip. We got a full tour from a lady who wrote her thesis for her Ph. D about the building so, she knew everything there was to know! I enjoyed going into the globe of the building because it was a great last view of Berlin! We took a full group picture before we left. 

Jasmane, Meghan, and I headed back to Primark one final time. I know, we've been there a lot but, it's so addicting all the great sales! While we were over there I had to try a fresh squeezed orange juice before I left and it was amazing! I loved it! We then headed back to the hostel to finish packing and get our bags weighed. I am feeling still sick and I got a rash on my face I think it may be an allergic reaction from the Indian food so I'm not going to do anything tonight besides rest and catch up on homework. Overall I am ready to get home! Being in Europe has been a great experience. I've learned about myself a lot, a lot about other cultures, and met some really great people! 

Berlin Day 4

Today we woke up and went to meet Dr. V for breakfast to talk about our progress as far as research goes in Berlin. We talked for a minute and met our guest speaker as well. Dr l. V told us of some other cool places to see on our free day and then we went out and about to start our day. We took the train first back to Alexanderplatz to go back to primark and shop a little more. We were there probably for a few hours. I did buy a few more items and returned something that didn't fit. Once we left there we got back on the train and went to see east side gallery and suicide circus. It was a few stops down and we were there in no time. We got off the train and we immediately could see all of the graffiti it was great! I love graffiti art so much because it's bright and everything looks different. We first went to east side gallery. East side gallery is a part of the Berlin Wall that still stands in the original spot but is completely covered in graffiti. It was so cool seeing this! I got a lot of cool pictures as well. We then went to grab some lunch from a Korean barbecue place not too far. I got a Korean chicken dish with rice and vegetables. I didn't like what I got much because it was just way too many vegetables and not enough chicken for me. Next, we went to see suicide circus which was at the same stop we just had to walk the other way down the street. When we got over there it was very grungy, run down a little, and graffiti everywhere. It was interesting! I liked seeing the though we took more pictures down here, looked at the skateparks, and rock climbing. It wasn't very many people down there like I thought it would be. It finally started to sprinkle so we decided to head back toward the hostel. We got to the train station to find out that there is something wrong with the train and it had been sitting there for awhile not moving. So we had to take another one that took a little longer to get back but it wasn't too bad. Once we got to our stop I decided to go to the post office to buy a box because I'm going to end up having to ship some things home. However, the price isn't too bad it's cheaper than checking another bag. To ship 20 lbs it's 50 euros where as another checked bag is 75 euros. We came back to the hostel and relaxed for a by it and packed some more then Jasmane and I went to grab dinner. We went to a Mexican restaurant not too far from the hostel. The food was different from our Mexican at home. For instance they didn't have queso and the only meat they had was chicken and lamb. The food tasted okay overall though. While we were over in this area I did research as well. I got 2 more interviews so now I have 3 total which is great. W sheared back to the hostel and I packed my box that I'd be shopping and decided to work more on my research paper. I think tonight is homework night for everyone because it's almost our last day!

Berlin Day 3

Today I woke up around the same time as usual and headed to breakfast around 9:30. Then hit the streets with Jasmane to do research. First we stopped at a few banks close to the hostel for her research then we happened to run into Kempson and decided to start our city research. I did stop by a store close but the lady didn't speak any English so I was unable to get an interview. However, I figured I'd come across another store at some point in the day so we continued to do our city research. We had already done one area so far that we go through everyday to catch the metro. First we found a grocery store In our neighborhood to find prices of milk, eggs, and a steak. We next went towards checkpoint Charlie to do this area because we had went over here on our walking tour so it was familiar. While we were in this part of town it started raining but that didn't stop us because it was just light rain. We found a grocery store over here and a souvenir shop that wasn't too expensive so we decided to grab souvenirs here. We then headed back to a residential area we ended up in the other day then headed back to Alexanderplatz to grab food and do a little shopping. I couldn't really find stores to research in this area because they're too commercial. It has been hard here finding local smaller stores because everything has been big chain retail stores which are great for shopping but bad for research. But I grabbed my first bratwurst from Germany here and it was really good! I liked it and it was only 3 euros. We then went into a store called Primark that Jasmane and I found really good sales! The store was so crowded and unbelievable how many people were shopping in there at once! But it was worth it for sure. We then went inside a department store across the street where I bought some dress socks for my dad and now I'm finally done buying gifts for everyone back home! Next we went into tk maxx (not tj maxx) it was just like at home I found some cool sunglasses in there and we waited around to avoid the rain. It started poring down right when we walked in there. It took a while for the rain to stop. It didn't stop for a little over an hour and we were back at the hostel by this time. Jasmane and I started to pack our bags because we had a little time left before the river cruise. We met downstairs around 6:30 with the whole group to head to the cruise. The temperature had dropped a lot! It was really chilly, I was glad I brought my rain jacket. The river cruise in Berlin wasn't as nice to me as the other cities because Berlin is very modern in architecture overall. so it wasn't as pretty as Paris and Amsterdam but it was still relaxing. 

After the river cruise a group of us went to grab dinner. We really wanted Mexican food but the place we first found was permanently closed and the other one wasn't Mexican it was Indian so we ended up eating Italian at the same place we went to the first night. I got something different though and it was still good. We ate and talked enjoying the night then decided to head back to the hostel because we all had lots of homework to work on. Overall today was a good day I didn't get anymore interviews but we have a free day tomorrow so hopefully I'll get some more!

Berlin Day 2

Today was a pretty long day. I woke up around 8 because we had to be downstairs to meet to head to the concentration camp sachsenhausen at 9. The marketing, sociology, and stats classes all went. We had a tour guide, Iuana, who picked us up front the hostel and showed us around once we got there. We had to catch 2 trains to get there because it was about 30 miles outside of the city. It was located in oranienburg a smaller residential area. Once we arrived there we took about a 15 minute walk to get to the camp. First we stopped at a building that was the head office of all of the concentration camps during the time of nazi Germany and our tour guide explained a lot to us and showed us around here. Then we walked to the actual concentration camp for our tour. Once we arrived on the actual grounds of the camp it was unreal and an unexplainable feeling To actually be where innocent people were imprisoned and died during the war and the holocaust. Our tour guide first walked us through the entrance and into a garden area where memorials now existed for the different groups of people that were in this camp. Then we walked the different cites on the grounds it was a pretty big place. We saw the infirmary, where the nazis assassinated many people in the camp, the barracks, and many other cites as well. Overall I'm glad I got to see it because it is a very humbling experience to see and hear different stories of what happened to people there and learn about this history. I wouldn't choose to go back but I am grateful for the opportunity to go and experience it. I'm also glad we had a great tour guide because she did a great job explaining everything and knowing factual information.

 Once we headed back from there it was going on 3 in the afternoon we had been there a long time but I don't think it could've been any shorter because there was a lot to take in. When we finally got back into the city some of us went to grab food because we were starving! We went to the central station because there were lots of options for everyone to choose from. I got fish and chips I was a little disappointed with the food it was probably my least favorite thing I've eaten since being in Europe. But it's okay It wasn't too pricy. After that Ashley and I came back to take a nap while the others stayed out. Later that night some of us went down to the bar had food and drinks and enjoyed talking. Today was overall an interesting day! Can't wait to see what tomorrow Holds.

Berlin day 1

Today was our first full day in Berlin! We woke up had breakfast then our city orientation. The breakfast was very similar to in Amsterdam but they did offer extra things you could by like eggs, pancakes, bacon, etc. I didn't try them today but I plan to maybe tomorrow. At orientation we received our transit pass, museum pass, and breakfast valchures. After that the marketing class met with Dr. V then the tour guide picked us up for our waking tour. We walked for about 15 minutes then met at the Brandenburg Gate for or tour to start. I really enjoyed he walking tour here the most it's almost like they progressively got better. Some of the highlights of the tour were walking through the Holocaust Memorial, seeing pieces of the Berlin Wall and standing in both east and West Berlin at the same time, standing on top of the ground where Hitler's bunker use to be and where his body was burned. Our tour guide Susan was very enthusiastic and you could tell she was passionate! 

Once our walking tour was over we grabbed a German curry sausage from a place not too far from where our tour ended it was pretty good I liked it! After this we headed back to the hostel for a minute to rest our feet. Then, Jasmane, Kempson, and I went exploring. We first walked around this market area not too far from the hostel. This was nice I did get my first interview in Berlin here. Next, we got on the train for the first time by ourselves! We kind of just took it and got off in a few stops. We did end up more in a residential area but a man helped us out and told us where we may want to go the other way. We ended up getting off 2 stops past the hostel by a festival market kind of area called Alexanderplatz. There were lots of shops, music, food, everything you could think of! It was great we saw a man drawing a big art piece with chalk, lots of stands selling different items, and lots of people of course! We then went to a gym where Kempson had his first interview. This was a different gym from in the states them at I've seen because they had a DJ in there! It was awesome! After this we walked some more saw more shopping and decided to grab dinner from a burger place called Peter Pan. I really liked it as well it was pretty good and the atmosphere was great. We then headed back to meet up with Ashley, Dr. V and the stats class to go to the TV tower. This was pretty cool too! We road up an elevated about 200 meters then got off and could see all of Berlin it was getting dark too so it was a even better view. We stayed here for a little time then decided to head back to the hostel to get ready for tomorrow! Overall today always a pretty good first day!


Travel Day to Berlin!

Today we woke up to head to Berlin we had to be in the lobby at 6:45. The whole group was able to grab breakfast for the last time in the hostel before we left to catch the tram. At this point I had to use my extra duffel bag because I have picked up so many things along the way! So I was struggling a bit. Walking down the street to the tram was so horrible having two heavy bags but, I don't regret buying anything I have bought so far. To me I feel like your suppose to bring back things to remember your trip and the shopping here was way better than the u.s. So I couldn't pass it up either. I just know that I'll be struggling until we get to the airport to head home. We first took a metro like Inner City train to Germany. Then once we got to Germany we had to get in another train to take us the rest of the 4 hours to Berlin. Getting on one train to the next has just been an experience I'll say because I've never had to hop on and off like this before. I'm also getting sick again so you can imagine how much worse it is for me because i feel terrible and just want to sleep. I planned to start my paper on this ride but so far I've only slept so we'll see I may have to wait and start it tonight once we settle in. Once we finally got off the train we had to walk a little to catch a metro then we had to walk again about 10 minutes to the hostel. The hostel here is really nice!

 It has a terrace, a bar, game room, and a cool outside area. I like it! The rooms are nice to the only thing I don't like is that the actual toilet is outside of the room and you have to use tryout key to go to it. Also we have 5 people in our room which isn't bad because the room is more spacious. Once we unpacked Jasmane, Ashley, Meghan, and I went to grab Italian from a place really close to the hostel it was really I enjoyed it. However, we noticed that some people don't speak English here but hopefully more people do once we get out into the city more! Travel day was a success lets see how our first full day goes. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

GOODBYE EUROPE!!

TODAY IS THE DAY WE ARE GOING HOME!!!! Today is it!! We are finally going home!! I can honestly say that I'm very anxious about today and my nerves are getting the best of me!! I couldn't wait to get back home, in my own bed, in a familiar territory, with language and customs I understood!!! But, my nerves were also getting the best of me because of travel day! Travel day had a history on its own, and I knew today was going to be hard because I was looking forward to carrying 120 pounds of luggage!!! Ugh, today was going to be the start of a long day.
We met up at 10AM and headed to the U-Bahn so we could catch a bus to take us to the airport. We were catching a flight from Berlin to Amsterdam. and then from there, we were catching a plane from Amsterdam to Atlanta.
We began by headed to the U-Bahn, and already, I was struggling with luggage. I could not wait until we were at the airport and we had not even gotten to the first stop! We headed underground and got on the metro. We headed two stops and then WALKED up some stairs, along with my 120 pounds, and on our way to catch the bus. Once on the bus, we were on the way to the airport!!
After trips back and fourth, a standing in line for a long time, we said goodbye to Dr. V, and got on the plane to Amsterdam!
Once we were in Amsterdam, we were rushing to get off the make our connection, but when we got there, our flight had been delayed 2 and hours hours. Our long day just got longer.
After waiting and waiting, our flight was finally ready. I'm not sure I was prepared for this 8 hour flight, but any step closer to getting home was one I was more than willing to take! Once everybody was on the flight, we had dinner and I watched movies until I fell asleep. It was a long 8 hours, but I had never been more excited to see Atlanta.

After getting to Atlanta, we were all a bit nervous because there was a chance we wouldn't be able to make our connecting flight and get home. And that's exactly what happened. Going through customs took and long time. By the time we were ready, our plane to Nashville was in the air! What were we going to do?! In the end, it was going to a long night! We all got booked for flights in the morning, but now, we had to find a place to sleep in the airport. 
I woke up every 30 minutes it seemed, and it was so cold! The night was going by so slowly, but soon enough, it was time to board!!

Touching down in Nashville never felt better!! I couldn't believe it! It felt like I had been away for longer than three weeks, but I did know that being in Europe has taught me so much!! As Americans, we take so many things for granted and are really entitled as a culture. There are things I will miss and food I will crave, but nothing will beat being able to see the same 43 faces I've been sharing this experience with!
I'd like to thank God, Grandma and Grandpa Claibourne, Mom and Dad, my best friend and Dr. V!! Without you, this trip would not have been possible! It's truly been a blessing!!! 

Until Next time Europe,
Allysha Allen!!

Day 19: OUR LAST FULL DAY IN EUROPE!!!

This is it! Today is our last full day in Europe as well as the last day we will be spending in Berlin. I think that everyone is about ready to go home. We're all a bit drained, both mentally, emotionally, and financially. For myself, I know that I've had an amazing time and if I had the opportunity to do it again, I for sure would, but right now, I am craving home, my best friend, my family. I'm missing America. However, we had a full day today, so there was no time to waste!
We got up and met with Dr. V at 10:30 AM, just to talk over the syllabus and make sure we all understand the components of our project. Then, we met with our guest speaker, Dr. Vacca. Dr. Vacca is an Italian Lawyer and she came to speak with us about European Common Law and how it relates to the American Law System. Being a student studying Biology and not really having any knowledge about studying Business, it was very eye-opening for me and sparked great interest with me. There are a lot of components that captivated me, as I am curious about how systems work and how people are affected by those systems. It was a wonderful time meeting with Dr. Vacca.
Right after our meeting, Dr. V so graciously treated us for lunch and an Indian restaurant. Now, I have never tried Indian food, and every place that Dr. V had led us to have been wonderful, so even though I was slightly worried that I wouldn't like it, I was still excited that I was having the opportunity to experience something different. It turns out, I LOVE Indian food!!! The flavors go together so well, as everything was delicious, from the soup to the bread to my chicken, it was all very good!! Another point for Dr. V!


Once we were done eating, we were off to have our final group excursion with everyone, the Bundestag, the German Parliament Building. I was excited because this was our last excursion but I was also sad because this was it. This was one of the last moments I would have with GEC II. As we traveled to the Bundestag, everyone was talking about Berlin and their time in Europe, how we would all miss each other and the plans that we had to keep in contact. This experience really does give you some experiences that no one else will have!
As we approached the Bundestag, we went through security and were split into groups. Once our tour started, we began to walk through the building and I could tell our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable about her stuff! It turns out, she had a Ph. D on the Bundestag and wrote her thesis on this building! No wonder!! The tour overall was very enjoyable! After both groups were done, we headed up the dome to take our final group picture!! So long Berlin!! You've been good to us!!!




Sunday, July 31, 2016

Day 18: July 28, 2016

Today was our last free day we would have in Europe and it was safe to say that we all had a lot to get done! But, we didn't want to go through the day without getting some enjoyment from it. It was clear that we didn't have as much time in Berlin as we did in Paris or Amsterdam. The days here were shorter and jam-packed full of activities. But the last thing I wanted to do was lose my spirit of adventure. So first stop, PrixMark!!!
We traveled today to Alexanderplatz where I had the encounter that could have properly summed up my time in Europe!! It was a store called PrixMark! Now, what makes PrixMark so great is the amazing prices and their wide selection!!! I mean, for me, it was heaven. I must admit, I probably spent ours in there, but it wasn't nearly enough time and I clearly didn't have the funds to buy EVERYTHING!!! I can honestly say that this had been my favorite day in Berlin because of this one store. Besides Disneyland, this had to be one of my biggest purchases and I got some amazing deals!! PrixMark is definitely one of my gems that I'll forever treasure in Europe!
Once I had my shopping fix, we were headed off to the East Gallery so we could see the famous parts of the Berlin Wall, where artist were called to graffiti the portions still standing. It was amazing to see a piece of history standing right in front of me. Being able to understand Germany and its history is going to take longer than a week, but from what I understand, this wall separated so many for so long. I felt overwhelmed with sadness because being in Europe, I felt separated, and I was, but at least I knew I was going home. In Germany when the wall went up, they didn't have the same pleasures. Truly, it was moving.

Next, we went to eat at a Korean Kitchen restaurant, which had bulgolgi
on the menu, and I was very excited about it. We make bulgulgi at home so I was expecting a slight reminder. It wasn't exactly what I expected but it was great to try something new.

Next, we ended up crossing the tracks to a place called Suicide Circus, a place known for its eclectic taste, graffiti, and cool parts of Berlin where the locals go. I can honestly say it was amazing, especially coming from an artists perspective. This was one of the greatest days in Berlin.



Day 17: July 27, 2016- Research, Research, Research

Today I Berlin was a slightly slower day. I kinda of slept in and had breakfast. After breakfast, I wasn't in a rush to go anywhere or do anything. Today was mostly a work day, just being able to get some things done since I had the time. I also needed to get some interviews done since I have yet to have the time!!! So, I headed out, but as soon as I did, it started to rain. I take that back. It started to POUR!!!! I was running in and out of buildings with the goal of making it to the U-Bahn and out of the rain. I had planned to stay in the stations until the rain stopped, and it all worked out because there were pharmacies in the stations.
Finally, I had made it out of the rain and underground and hopped on the first train I saw. I just wanted to be out of the rain. I didn't have an umbrella and it seemed like nobody else in Germany did either. The U-Bahn was beginning to carry more water than I would have liked. So, I decided to get above ground and travel on the S-Bahn to Hauptbenhoft. I knew there was good food there as well as a pharmacy. As I was riding past friedrichstra├če, which is our stop to get to our hostel, I saw the street flooded from all the rain. I take it that they had never experienced anything like this because there were cars stuck in the flood waters and people looking frantic. Of course, back home, we deal with flash floods quite often. But for a country that doesn't experience rain to the degree, it could have and did cause a great deal of confusion and fear.
Approaching the stop to Hauptbenhoft, I realized I was in safe keeping, out of the rain and in a place that I could actually be very productive. I went and grabbed something to eat, which was very tasty, and decided to see if I could get an interview from the 24-hour pharmacy, which turned out to be a success!!
After, I had to head back to get ready for the river cruise, but not without first stopping to two other pharmacies I saw along the way. It seemed that the flood had hit everybody as one pharmacy had partially flooded and the other one was closed.
Once I got back, we headed back down to the river for our final river cruise. I didn't know what to expect from this cruise, but I knew I didn't feel the same about this one as I did the others. More of me longed to go home, so seeing Berlin just wasn't on my radar today. Either way, I'm still grateful for every single experience.




Saturday, July 30, 2016

BerlinDay 6- Travel Day

Day 6 in Berlin was officially travel day. I was in a travel dilemma because I enjoyed being on this trip, but I still also wanted to see my family, so it was a tough situation for me. I still enjoy days like these because it’s a reminder to me of the travels that I plan on taking in the future. With that being said, I knew I had a big day ahead so I knew that I would have to slightly switch up my morning routine to be well rested for the plane trip. This plane trip would literally last most of the day so I made sure that I prepared everything the night before, so I could be productive for the plane ride.

The process on heading to the airport was something that I looked forward to because I knew that the time was coming for me to get back home. My family was even contacting me to just see how I was doing because they knew that the time was coming near for me to come back. I myself even thought about what it would be like when I come back because I knew that I had many responsibilities to take care of when I get back. Two of the things that I thought about was class registration and tuition payment. The great thing was that I was slightly prepared with both of them, but I still had some more work to do to make sure that everything was set for the semester.

Lastly, our group made it through the check-in process, and we waited for a long period of time before boarding the plane. During the waiting process I looked at the various signs posted around the airport because it reminded me of how close I was to traveling home. With that being said, I waited until the time came for us to board the plane, and I knew that I will finally be back home.

July 30 Day 20- Last Day

The day has finally come where we must follow the yellow brick road home and say our goodbyes. It's a bittersweet moment, more sweet than bitter. I've been ready to go home for a while now. I like Europe but it's a very big difference in the type of personalities here. This has been a great experience but it will be a while before I come visit any of the countries we've been to.

Friday, July 29, 2016

July 29 Day 19- Berlin

Today was our last full day here. We started our day by having a meeting with Dr. V to go over, in detail, what is expected of our final project. Then we met in the classroom for a guest speaker. After the presentation, Dr. V treated us to lunch. We had Indian food which wasn't that bad. After lunch, we met with all of the other students to go to the Bundestag. The Bundestag was quite interesting and we got to take a group photo at the end. We were free after our tour was. We went back to Primark and then we came back to the hostel to pack. Today has been quite a long day and I am more than ready to be back home.

Paris Day 7-Travel Day

Today was another day for traveling. I made sure that my morning went at ease by preparing everything the night before and cruising into my travel mode on travel day. I was glad that I prepared well because I was able to get ready in a relatively short time period. I also felt good knowing I already packed up everything the night before, so I could officially say that I left nothing in the room.

Secondly, the travel process went pretty well. This was actually my first ever train ride from country to country. It was a different travel method for me, but I felt comfortable with riding the train. Especially when I understood that the train ride is only going to be about two and a half hours long, I felt like this is not going to be too bad. The train seats were very comfy and I was able to simply relax, read my book, and listen to podcasts. This was such a great opportunity for me to utilize my time and be productive. I actually finished more of my tasks than expected, and I was grateful for the train ride experience.
Thirdly, we reached our destination in Amsterdam. When I first stepped outside into the main city area, I noticed a great difference between Amsterdam and Paris. One of the main things of note was that there were more types of transportation utilized here than Paris. I was a little surprised by this fact. The most interesting part was when it came for us to cross the street, because we had to think about cars, trams, and bicycles. Furthermore, I noticed that Amsterdam was more of a laid-back type of environment. People seemed very relaxed in the park, and they just took leisurely walks down the street. In addition, I had to get used to communicating in English again because I became used to using French while in Paris. With all of these qualities, I felt like it was going to be an easier process to acclimate myself to Amsterdam.



Amsterdam Day 7-Travel Day

It was officially travel day. Travel day started really early in the morning, and everything had to be set and ready to head to Berlin. I felt very prepared for this day because almost all of my belongings were already packed, including most of my toiletries, so I felt ready to go. I actually enjoy travel day too because I know that this is the opportunity to go to another European nation and I could add it to my list of places that I visited throughout the world.
To start out the day, we were instructed to be downstairs early in the morning to be able to take care of some necessities and eat breakfast. I felt really good heading towards this point because everything was packed and I literally relaxed until it was time for breakfast. I also thought it was nice for the chef to open the cafeteria earlier, so that we could eat breakfast. After breakfast, I was ready to head to the train station.

The process of heading to the station was easy, but the process was slightly more difficult when we have to take our luggage back and forth. I was so glad, when I took heed to the instruction of carrying a light bag because it’s a lot easier to carry around the place. I definitely recommend to future students to bring a medium sized duffle bag with wheels because it is a lot easier to maneuver.

It was stated that the train ride is approximately 6.5 hours. I thought to myself that this is long, but a good time to be productive. While on the train, I started working on some classwork, listening to podcasts, and reading a book. This process kept my mind stimulated the whole time, and I did not even recognize how the time flew by. I also fell asleep for a little bit when I needed to take breaks. When I saw that we made it to our stop, I was excited to see that we made it to Berlin. I did some prior research of this city, and I noticed that it is very multicultural. The most noticeable thing that I noticed was the common use of German, English, and French. I thought this was interesting because it seemed like Berlin catered to tourists a lot more than Paris. A tourist could easily come here and speak English or French with multiple people because I learned that these languages are part of the school curriculum.

Lastly, we made it to our hostel, and I liked how it was a nice calm area that was not too far from the action. The hostel was located in such a convenient area that it made me think of all the possibilities that I have with staying here. I finished off the day by taking a small walk towards the TV tower, and viewing a lot of the sites. This walk was well worth it because there were so many places. Overall, viewing these sites gave me an idea of what to expect when I tour the city of Berlin.

Amsterdam Day 6-Last Day

Day 6 in Amsterdam was our last full day until we leave for Berlin. It was amazing how time flew by towards the end of the week, because it felt like things were a little slower earlier in the week. I was also excited for this day because I knew that I needed to get some tasks completed and still fulfill some activities while here in Amsterdam. Today the plan was to go to an early morning interview, to do laundry, go city touring, and watch the gay pride festival.
First, I started out my day with my normal routine of waking up early and going to breakfast. While at the cafeteria, I was surprised that it was very empty. I believe this was because it was Saturday, and many guests probably wanted to sleep-in on the weekend. I even had a brief conversation with the chef, and we discussed about traveling. He actually mentioned that he has been to Berlin many times and that it is a beautiful city, which made me look forward to travel day.
After breakfast, I attended my interview and I was so happy that I was able to meet the owner. There was literally no one else there, which made me think that this is a great opportunity to really engage in this interview and receive some valuable information. The owner even informed me that he has been to United States multiple times which showed me that he had an idea of the market in America. With that being said, we had a great interview, and I received an extensive amount of content from the owner. 
Then, I met with my group and we spent some leisure time around the city. It was quite interesting because today we ended up seeing a lot more souvenir shops than what we saw during the week. Most tourism shops had items such as Amsterdam’s flag, key rings, glasses, and posters. I noticed how all the shops looked very similar to each other, and it was very easy to spot one.
Lastly, we stopped at the gay pride festival in Vondel Park. I did not know what to expect because this was my first time, but I was interested to see what festivals are like in Amsterdam. This festival did not disappoint. Many people dressed up; some were singing; and some were playing music. It seemed like a wonderful event for Amsterdam to celebrate, and I learned that the festivities actually continue for another two weeks. I was a little surprised because most festivals are one day long, but apparently this one was planned for the long-haul.
Towards the end of the day, we took a stop at the local grocery store to pick up some items for the long train ride to Berlin. After that we went back to the hostel and prepared for travel day tomorrow.

Berlin Day 5-The Last Full Day

Day 5 in Berlin was the last full day in this city. I would admit that I am going to miss just being abroad because I enjoy learning about other cultures, and it has been my childhood dream to travel the world. The thing that I love the most with traveling is tasting the different types of food. It’s amazing how foods can be similar among cultures, but have some differences that distinguish them from each other. The main thing that I loved the most while here in Berlin was the various ethnic foods throughout the area. I was amazed to see such a plethora. It is like I was a kid in a candy store because I could try so many new things in one week. With these reflections, I knew that I had to finish off the week well by actively engaging in the activities that we had planned today. The specific activities for today entailed listing to a guest speaker and visiting Bundestag.

The conversation with our guest speaker was about European law. This topic was very pleasing to hear because she was discussing key background information with the European Union. For instance, she talked about the implications involving United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union (EU). She discussed how the problem came about and what would likely happen to the EU and the UK.
Furthermore, we stopped at an Indian restaurant close by and the food was very delicious. It was probably my best meal of the whole trip. I had a lamb meal with naan bread, and this was such a great dish to have. 

After that, our group stopped at Bundestag. I learned that Bundestag is the German Parliament, and that we would actually be able to see where government officials operate. We saw many things within this building, but the two things that caught my attention was the multipurpose religious area and the circular dome at the top of the building. The multipurpose religious area made me think about the sensitivity that the builders had for people of various religions. I thought it was a smart move because it showed that they wanted to respect people’s beliefs. Then, the circular dome at the top was very exquisite. This area amazed me because I could see the beauty of the city and view such beautiful architecture. This was a great excursion for me, and a wonderful way to end my tours in Berlin.


Berlin Day 4- Site Visits

Day 4 in Berlin was a time to start the countdown for heading back to the states. I enjoyed being on this trip, and it is just amazing that there is only 2 more full days left until we leave Germany. One of the things that amazed me with this trip was how time flew by. I was grateful just to be able to experience all three cities, and I knew that I only had so much time until the trip ended. Today, the plan was to visit some more sites around Berlin.

We started out our journey by stopping in a local area of Germany. This area was definitely different because it had a lot of graffiti over the walls, and it seemed like there was not that much there at first. After walking through the area a little more, we noticed a small disco tech phone booth, a skate park area, and murals painted on the walls. The place seemed like it had a relaxed vibe, but a unique cultural edge to it. We also saw parts of the Berlin Wall that was spray painted with graffiti. The graffiti was such a nice addition to the wall because the wall was probably a plain gray color at first, and the paint added a unique touch to it. I remember on Monday, when our tour guide showed us the Berlin Wall at another part of the city, and it was literally just a plain gray color, and she even stated that she expected a lot more when she first saw the wall. She told us about the background history behind it, and it made the wall more amazing. People did things by the wall such as taking pictures or acting like they were pushing the wall, which I thought was a nice comical thing to do for this attraction.

We finished off the day by spending some leisure time around the area, and heading back to the hostel.

Berlin Day 3- River Cruise

Day 3 in Berlin was more of a free day for me, but I still had to focus on getting some school work done. Today, I was just ready to get out of the hostel and get some work done. I started out the day with my normal routine, and I made sure to leave at an earlier time to get to the gyms around their opening times. My plans for today entailed getting more interviews, working on district assignments with the group, and taking the river cruise towards the evening.

I left the hostel early in the morning and headed out to interview some gym managers. Lately, I noticed that one of the best ways to get an interview is to call ahead of time. This helped me have some form of introduction with the companies, so that they would not be surprised when I request of an interview on such short notice. I actually got to do an interview at one of the gyms that I called yesterday, and it helped out a great deal.
Then, my group stopped at Alexanderplatz area. This area literally has events going on every day. They had things like human blow up balls for kids; dancing street performers; and a plethora of restaurants. The main thing that really caught my attention was the dancing street performers. This particular performance had two guys who were dancing to various hits from the 80s to now. They danced to songs with Michael Jackson, the Men in Black theme song, and even a comedic performance with the Titanic theme song.

Lastly, the entire group planned for the river cruise. Before the cruise, the most interesting thing happened because flooding rain started pouring down about two hours earlier, and it was sunny right before. The rain was so much that the water reached the rim part of some of the cars that traveled through the road. Even though this occurred, the rain stopped right before the river cruise excursion. The cruise excursion was a nice way to end the day because I was able to relax and enjoy some of the attractions along the river front.

Berlin Day 2-Concentration Camp

Day 2 in Berlin was our second full day in this city. Today, I was looking forward to maintaining the pace I made on the first day by exploring more sites throughout the area. One of the main things that I have definitely noticed about Berlin is that it is such a large city. I remember when I was told that Berlin is very large and that people only cover so much of this area. This city really does require a lot of walking, but it is worth it to be able to see the different attractions throughout Berlin. Today, the main plan that we had was to take a tour of the concentration camp.

On our way to the camp, the thought that was going through my mind was what the camp actually looked like because it would give me a rough idea of what happened on camp grounds during the 1930s and 1940s. Our tour guide provided some very good background information on what to expect when we arrived at our stop. She explained the group that was behind the concentration camp and how they would exert their authority throughout the whole camp site.

When we arrived on camp grounds, I was amazed to see the size of the concentration camp. I remember seeing approximately 5 watch towers and multiple execution sites. It was a lot to experience, and I really felt for all the captives that went through these rough conditions. The two main thoughts which stuck out to me was the fact that the concentration camp leaders wanted to control the prisoners’ mindset and they constantly focused on division. For instance, the camp leaders performed executions at a site behind a wall and it was just enough for other prisoners to hear it, but not see it. They utilized this tactic to instill fear in prisoners’ minds. Secondly, camp leaders always categorized certain group into different sections, and they would actually brand each section by symbols such as a red triangle for political leaders. This camp was just a humbling experience for me, and it made think more about the importance of understanding history.

Berlin Day 1-Tour Day

Day 1 in Berlin was day for touring the city. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to walk around the city and get a rough idea of where sites were located. Then today, I felt more acclimated to the city because I was able to quickly pick up on some of the major landmarks and streets. This effort helped me feel more comfortable with collecting data for my research and knowing where to go for different events and attractions. Today, we had two events scheduled which were the walking tour and the Berlin television tower.
First, I started out the day with my normal routine of early morning breakfast and my morning workout. Then, prepared for the walking tour. One of the things that I thought about for this tour was that it was going to be long, but exciting. I always knew that Germany was well-known for its history, but I was looking forward to an in-person perspective of the city of Berlin.

At the tour, I was really interested in the fact that our tour guide studied history while obtaining her master’s degree, and it let me know that she would provide a detailed amount of information with Berlin’s history. She took us to many sites such as The Holocaust Memorial, the Berlin Wall, Hitler’s underground hiding area and Humboldt University. The main sites which really caught my attention was Hitler’s underground hiding area and the Holocaust Memorial. For the Hitler site, our tour guide provided extensive amount of background history with Hitler and his wife. She provided more detailed information on Hitler’s personal life, and it was my first time ever hearing this information. I also like the idea behind the Holocaust memorial which was to allow people to form their own perspective as they observe the structure. It was interesting because this place had no sign and only short and tall blocks. 

Then at night, our group went to the tv tower. The tv tower was very tall and you could literally see it from miles away. We went all the way up to the top, and it reminded me of the Eiffel Tower where you are literally able to see the whole city. I enjoyed this view because I got an overview perspective of what the city of Berlin look like. This was such a great way to end my first full day in Berlin.

July 28 Day 18 Berlin

Today we went back to Primark, because it's so awesome. Then we went to the East Side Gallery and Suicide Circus. The East Side Gallery was really cool. I didn't expect for majority of the wall to be fenced in. We got to take pictures and walk around and enjoy the graffiti. After leaving the East Side Gallery, we stopped for lunch before we continued on to Suicide Circus. Suicide Circus seemed cool but it's not much there. It seems like more of a hangout spot for grunge individuals. After leaving Suicide Circus, we tried to get in the S-Ban but it didn't go anywhere and we had been on it for a while. We got off and caught the U-Ban back towards the hostel. Once we got to the hostel, we sat our stuff down and eventually got our bags weighed by Dr. Shanklin. Everyone's checked bags were under weight so that was a relief. After our bags got weighed we went walking around the hostel and found a Mexican restaurant. I had gotten my hopes up because it was no where near close to the type of Mexican dishes I'm use to.


July 27 Day 17- Berlin

Today we went out and finished our city assignments and we went on the river cruise. Since we've spent so much time in Alexandriaplatz, we finally decided to check out Primark because we've seen a lot of people with bags from there. It was the best decision we've made since we've been on this trip. They had the best sale I've seen that wasn't for a company going out of business. We got caught out in the rain but luckily enough we made it to the train station without being soaked. After making it back to Friedrichstrabe station, we walked through the flooding streets once the rain calmed down. After making it to the hostel, we had enough time to sit our stuff down, take a deep breath, and head back downstairs for the river cruise. The river cruise wasn't as nearly as interesting as the first two and the staff was rude.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

July 26 Day 16- Berlin

Today we went to a concentration camp. The camp was huge and filled with harsh reminders of how ugly and cruel environments can be when too much power is placed in the wrong hands.  We saw memorials where mass graves used to be, the area where he Nazis completed their mission of killing, and we saw the bunkers in which the "prisoners" stayed. This experience filled me with more questions of other nations and nationalities that have dealt with troubles as all the victims of the Holocaust.

July 25 Day 15- Berlin

Today we had a walking tour. This walking tour was more interesting and seemed shorter than the last two. We got to see some remaining pieces of the Berlin Wall, the Charlie Checkpoint, and were Albert Einstein taught at before he fled Germany. After the tour was over we had lunch and then we came back to the hostel to breathe for a few minutes. Then we went back out to familiarize ourselves with Berlin and the transit system. We stayed out until it was almost time for us to meet to go to the TV tower. We stopped and had dinner at a restaurant up the street from the hostel. The burgers were, different. We left dinner and came back to the hostel to sit our stuff down and meet up for the tour. The view from the TV tower was amazing.

Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp

Today is the day we have all decided to visit Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. I honestly don't know what to expect but sadness. I woke up this morning feeling very weird. I'm not getting much sleep, and walking all day through the heat is exhausting, so a day filled with emotions equals a completely draining day. I was hoping that it would have turned out better than it did.
We left at 9AM and began our journey to the train station. All the way there, I was thinking about everything I had learned concerning the Holocaust and the role that Germany played in it all. I thought about my classes and how it affected me personally, the ethical debates I had back and fourth in my head and how I was going to react. I honestly didn't know. Just last week, I had walked through the hiding place of Anne Frank, and today I would be going the very place she and so many tried to avoid. My spirit seemed to already be breaking.
We transfered from train to train until we finally made it to the town of Oranienburg. Our tour guide, Iuanna, began explaining to us that this was the town that the Nazis decided they would use as the headquarters of all the concentration camps, and would be the base system as well as the location of the first concentration camp, Sachsenhausen. She began to explain to us that this was not an uninhabited town, that there were people who lived here and lived very active lives. They saw those that were condemend as prisoners and forced to work because of who they were or how they identified. She told us that sometimes, the people of Oranienburg would even particpate in the torture and humiliation of the prisoners, spitting on them and throwing rocks at them. Already, I was overwhelmed. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
As we walked the streets of Oranienburg, we saw the memorials and the houses that were builts by those who had been taken from their own lives and forced to build another. What terrified me is that people were now living in them, raising their families in these same houses in which these "prisoners" had lost their lives bulsing for these SS soldiers. I couldn't believe it. As we approached a big grey building, Iuanna informed us that this was the official HQ of the SS, those in charge for running all 37,000 concentration camps, which was ran by 104 people. Walking into the bulding, we talked about who was in charge, and as we moved, we looked at pictures of the camp, as well as being introduced to some of the conversations by the head of the SS, making plans for mass murder of millions of people. I  was sick. I could've ended the tour right then, but I needed to continue, to finish what I started.

We made our way to Sachsenhausen. We walked down the same roads that they did, and I was immediately thrown into a state of shock. Could this have been my life? Could I have survived? I knew the answer, and it was no. I couldn't have been taken from all I had known and thrown into a place resembling hell. It made me think, because throughout this trip, I have been complaining about there being no air conditioning, or enough ice in my drinks, or the conditions of living, or the wifi not being strong enough. But these people, homosexuals, Romini, Luxembourg police, Jews, and so many more had been taken from everything they knew and thrown into a place that didn't exisit in my nightmares. It humbles you, at the very least. These people collapsed from stravation, and cold, and being overworked, and I'm complaining about ice. It makes you think.
From there, we walked through the gates that so many walked through into the triangular enclosure. We stood and saw the electric fences, the "Dr.'s Office, the creamatorium, the baracks, the center of it all, the SS posts, the interogation rooms. I stood in awe. This was the new death of so many. All the dreams and plans disappeared, where the only way out was through "the chimney of Station Z". I was horrified. This place had been organized to bring people, to torture and kill, to get rid of them. The complete disregard for human life was disgusting. As we visited each building, we walked past mass graves and I couldn't help but think how many people died in the very places I was walking. How many human remains were under my feet.


As we visited the last building, all the storied began flooding through my head and the only thing I could think of was how I could not wait to get out, to leave. I never wanted to come back here again. To think that this camp wasn't anything compared to the horror of the others made my flesh crawl. My hope is that people come here, to feel, to learn, and make sure that this doesn't happen again. Although I'm aware that this type of evil still exists, I pray that people, including myself, have the courage to stand up and face it before it manifest ever again.



"That was but a prelude; where they burn books, they will ultimately burn people as well."

Heinrich Heine, 1821

Day 15: WELCOME TO BERLIN!!!

Today is our first full day in HOT Berlin! I honestly don't know how to feel about being in Germany yet. I have some ties here, but I was having trouble connecting with this city. Nevertheless, I can say that I felt the same way in the other cities as well, so just like Paris and Amsterdam, I was going to have to get used to Berlin.
Just like any other city, our first day alwasy consist of a free walking tour! I was not that excited because the night before I had to do laundry and it took then entire night. Apparently, in Germany, the washers and dryers are a lot more complex, and take around 90 minutes to wash and 135 to dry. With three loads, I was exhausted by the next day. Knowing that our walking tours usually last from about 2 1/2 to 3 hours, I wasn't sure if I was going to really be up for it, but I didn't really have a choice. I got up to meet the tour guide and we were off!
We met at the Brandenburg Gate, which was absolutely beautiful and got seperated into groups. Our tour guide's name was Susan and already, she had my attention. She was a history buff so I could tell that she not only knew a lot, but that she was passionate about her work, which made the tour so much better!! From stop to stop, I was engulfed in Berlin and German history, and it made me want to learn more and more! Although it was hot, it was by far the best walking tour I've been on this etire trip. I guess you could say at this point, I was beginning my romance with Berlin. I'm looking forward my time here.



Later, we went on our first excursion! It was to the TV Tower in Berlin. Now, the TV Tower is located in Alexanderplatz, which is kind of like an epicenter in Berlin, known for shopping and food and everything you need. The TV Tower is famous for its height, which it got because before our recent technology, the only way the people of the city could get television connections and any kind of signal was from this tower. The higher it was, the further out the signal could go and more people could be reached. Now, it is not used for this, but as a tourist site for those wanting to see Berlin in a different way. 
Getting to see it from the groud is one thing, but from the top is an entirely different experience. In all honesty, I must admit, I was first looking to see the Eiffel Tower in the distance, but I reminded myself that I was in Berlin, which was just as beautiful. My first day in Germany was one to remember.