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


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. 

Day 14: July 24, 2016- Berlin

Today is our travel day from Amsterdam to Berlin. I can honestly say that I'm almost heartbroken to leave Amsterdam because it was such a lovely city, and everything felt easy there, but it was A LOT of walking, so I can say that I'm excited to go to a city where I'll be getting a metro pass!! Oh, the things we take for granted!
My morning started at 6:15 AM because we all had to be downstairs at 6:45AM to get ready to leave. I was able to get all my things down before time, thinking that today would be an easier travel day since I only had two bags (I bought another one so I could fit all of my things back with versus having to ship anything. Let's just say I've done a great deal of shopping and I don't plan on throwing anything away!) However, I was completel wrong.
After we all met downstairs, we had breakfast and began our travels to Central Station. The two bags that I thought would be easy to carry and travel with proved me completly wrong!! They were so heavy and it made it almost impossible to lug my bags and keep up with the group. After several bag exchanges between Kempson, Jasmane, and I, and several pauses and pep talks, we finally made it to the station.
It was hot and the train looked like it was going to be crowded. Everyone was already tired, but we knew we still had a long day ahead of us because our train was supposed to be 6 long hours!!! When the train approached, there was a great deal of confusion if we should get on or not, and at the last minute, we all had to make that move and drag our luggage on before the doors closed!! I promise I could feel my entire body shattering! Then, we found out that we would have to switch trains in about an hour or so. The day was getting longer.
Once we arrived to the next station, we swtiched trains and had to rush to get on the other one! Just our luck, the train was overcrowded and did not have seats for everybody, nor did it have air. We were all very upset and frustrated. Getting to Germany was so much harder than we anticipated.
After about 5 hours, we finally made it to Germany!! It was extremely hot, and we were all tired and sweating and had all these bags to lug in and out of the crowds of people. Making it to the hostel was our saving grace!! By far, this was the toughtest travel day, but if this is any indicationh of how our time in Germany will be, I guarantee it will be nothing short of interesting!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Day 12

Today we woke up and went to the van Gogh museum as a whole group! Everyone dressed a little nicer than the past days because we took a group picture at the "I Amsterdam" sign. There were so many people there luckily once our whole group walked up most people decided to wait take their pictures because they didn't want that many random people in their picture. The van Gogh museum was okay not really my favorite thing because I'm really not that into it. I was a little disappointed that they didn't have Starry Night in there also because that's by far his most popular painting and the one I love. I did enjoy seeing the exhibit on why he killed himself and cut off his ear. Over the years people have tried to see what type of mental illness he had but nobody ever figured it out there are just many possible things he could have had like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, and a personality disorder just to name a few. 

After we left the museum Jasmane, Kempson and I went to Albert Cuypmarket not too far from the museum. This was a pretty cool area to see of Amsterdam! In the market you could really find almost anything you needed. They had clothes, shoes, souvenirs, food, cosmetics, and many other things! I bought some souvenirs there and food. I first got a pesto grilled cheese from a grilled cheese stand and it was amazing!! The cheese in the Amsterdam that I've tasted was better than in France to me. Then Kempson notices a place that sells all chicken (wings, burgers, sandwiches, hotdogs, etc) all for 2.50 euro! We got some wings and they were really good as well! After spending a few hours down there we decided to head back to the hostel to take a break from all of the walking. On the way Jasmane needed to stop at a few more banks and we did. It was cool because the route we took ended up putting us right in the middle of Vondelpark not too far down from the hostel. I hadn't been this far yet I. Vondelpark so it was pretty cool because I got to see what everyone was talking about its really a great park! When we got back Jasmane and I took naps until it was time to go to the canal cruise. For the canal cruise we went as a whole group. I liked the canal cruise we got to see where all the canals lead to, a pirate ship, and see Amsterdam the way locals do. It was also relaxing just being on the water but I don't like when the boat started to rock too much it made my stomach feel a little funny. After we left the canal cruise we grabbed some pizza and a group of us decided to come back out and grab a few drinks it was a lot of fun! Today overall has been a great day!

Day 13 Last Day in Amsterdam

Today is our last day in Amsterdam and also our free day. We did get to sleep in so i took full advantage of this. all of my roommates and i kind of woke up around the same time but it was after breakfast had already ended. So Jasmane, Meghan, and I decided to try a breakfast spot not too far from here called The Pancake Corner. I ordered an omlette with bacon inside it and it came with toast as well as a tomato and cucumber like most meals here in Amsterdam. I did learn that omlettes in the Netherlands are different from at home. It was more so flat and not folded over and it didn't have any cheese in it which is my favorite part! but, it was still okay overall. After breakfast Jasmane and I decided to catch up on some work and went over to the Mariott Hotel because the wifi over there is faster than in the hostel. the hostels wifi is not good at all manly because there are so many people using the same network. we sat over there for about an hour then decided to get out and hit the streets. We met up with Kempson and headed towards the shopping area close to dam square. I broke off from them once we got over close to the area to go to a thrift store that we passed on our first day here. I wanted to by my brother a suede bomber jacket and i got a hat for myself. As I was walking back from the thrift store i came across another market like area. this market didn't sell everything it was a clothing market! it was awesome! they had thrift shops, regular clothing, shoes, hats, everything clothing related. I didn't by anything over there because wanted to wait and see what i saw in Pull and Bear first because i heard they had really great sales. So i walked back to the shops off of dam square and went immediately to Pull and Bear! I was in a shoppers paradise right when i walked in I didn't know where to start! there were so many great sales it was hard to pass them up. Imade my way through the entire store and picked up things for my family as well as myself, it was great! After finishing up i met back up with Kempson and Jasmane and we went to grab some food. We were looking for an Indian food place to try but couldn't find one before we stumbled on this cafeteria style place. It was really big and looked kind of like an upscale cafeteria. they had fresh food in there everything was cooked to order. You had to walk around to the different type of food stands in there. There was asian food, pastas, pizzas, steaks, sandwhiches, a smoothie bar, salad bar, deserts, breads, everything you could think of! I didn't pay too much for it but the prices could add up very easily. the food was pretty good too.
We then cam back to the hostel and I packed up my things before we went to watch the pride march in vondelpark. This was pretty cool to see so many people come together in support of this community of people. After that we went by the grocery store to grab snacks for the long train ride in the morning. I have overall enjoyed Amsterdam its a beautiful and relaxed city with very cool vibes. I am not sad about leaving i am ready to take on the next city Berlin!

July 24 Day 14- From Amsterdam to Berlin

Today we finally left for Berlin, which means we're only days away from going home. We had to be up and downstairs by 6:45. Then we turned in our room cards and ate breakfast. After breakfast we were off to the train station. Getting to the train station was hell. We all had more bags than we started out with. Once we got to the train station, we went to the platform for our train and waited. Once a train finally did arrive we were told to wait because no one was sure if it was our train. After that got straightened out we got on and found seats for the two hour ride to the transfer point. After getting to the transfer point, we had to hustle to store our bags and find seats. Some people weren't so fortunate and had to stand and sit in the floor for the entire time. Once we got to Berlin, we got on a subway train to our hostel. These guys got on after us and were asking for tickets but we didn't have ours. So when we got off they did too. Overall today was okay.

July 23 Day 13- Amsterdam

Today was our free day. We got up and went out to breakfast. The restaurant we went to only accepted cash so I ate elsewhere. After we left breakfast, we went to the Marriott to upload our blogs. Then we hit the city to do some shopping and just to get out. After shopping, we ate at this restaurant that different food bars. It was cool and the food was decent. Next we went to look for last minute souvenirs before going to the Pride Parade. The Pride Parade was really interesting. There was a lot of different characters and we even got to take a picture of one. After the parade we went and got some snacks for the train ride to Berlin. Finally I finished my day up by packing my bags and doing my hair.

Day 13: Pride in Amsterdam!!

Today is the first day of Pride in Amsterdam! Now, although I'm not too familiar, Pride is like a festival for people of all backgrounds, especially in the LGBT community, to come together and celebrate life, and having the freedom to live your life the way you want!! I couldn't wait to witness this amazing festival! But first, I had to sit down and get some work done. Yes, I was getting to do some amazing things and visit cities I never thought I would see in real life, but I was here for school, so work comes before play!!
I finished my work and packed up all my stuff, but by the time I did all of that and got everything done, it was already 4PM!! Although it was late in the day, I felt accomplished that I had gotten everything done and was ready for travel day. This meant that I could enjoy the rest of my day stress and worry free, and enjoy Pride all night!!
The Pride festivities began at 7PM with a parade through Vondal Park to Dam Square and it was absolutely amazing!!! There were so many people, gay, straight, families that were just out to celebrate people in general, having the freedom to live life as they please, and loving one another. In my opinion, that's the best way to live, even if you don't agree with the lifestyle, loving one another will always prevail over hate.

All in all, Amsterdam exceeded my expectations and I cannot wait to come back!! I'll truly miss this wonderful city! Until next time!!!!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Day 12: Time to Grind

Today was our group excursion day, and we were scheduled to go to the Van Gogh museum and do a River Cruise. However, I also realized that it was Friday and I only had one interview! So, today was going to be full! We all headed the to Van Gogh Museum, but we first made a stop at the I AMSTERDAM sign and took a group picture. I loved it.

Once reaching the museum, we had to wait a little bit for whatever the reason, but then we were free to explore. The museum was nice, but it was very crowded, and a little less organized than I would have liked because it was hard to navigate and keep up with the details of his life. However, there was an extra exhibit on display showcasing his suicide and how he cut off his ear. Van Gogh was truly a hurting artist, I feel. I don't think any disease and condition could put a name on it.
Walking through the rest of the museum, I learned a lot about his life and how art intervened in so many ways, much like how music does the same for me. I remember being in art class studied these very paintings, but I had no idea that Van Gogh had done and accomplished the things that he did. It was truly a treasure to see!
After I left the museum, I went off in hopes of getting more interviews. Unlike Paris, there are not that many pharmacies to find. Many require a great deal of traveling to get to, so I knew I was in for a long day! Shortly after, I found my first pharmacy and got a great interview!! I guess that increased my luck because after, I walked to two other pharmacies and got some great interviews as well!! In my second interview with Dr. Simon, he actually took me on a tour of the Pharmacy, showing me things that I didn't even know existed, such as an automated delivery system which allows patients to pick up medicine 24/7 without standing in line and having the see the pharmacist! It was an amazing experience and I loved it!
From there, I traveled and found another pharmacy, and luckily got another great interview!! I couldn't believe it!! Though it had been a long day, it was well worth it! I traveled back to the Hostel and took a nap before our river cruise.
My nap was exactly what I needed before traveling to the River Cruise. Once we got there, we borded and we were off. I was somewhat nervouse because I knew how being on the boat in Rotterdam made me feel, but I decided that I would make the best of it. It actually wasn't that bad, until we got to the open sea, but other than that, it was absolutely beautiful! It had been the perfect evening to go on a river cruise and it was well worth it.

Once our journey came to an end, Kayla, Jasmayne, Kempson, and I went to get something to eat. Pizza!! It was really good, especially the Chicken Diavla (not to be confused with diablo; it was more sweet with a spicy kick than spicy). Good food turned into good conversation, and before we knew it, we had been there for an hour. We headed back tot he hostle for some rest. Tomorrow was a big day, the beginning of Pride in Amsterdam!!

Day 11: ROTTERDAM!!!

Today, myself, Kempson, Kayla, and Jasmane are going to take a trip to visit Rotterdam, a smaller city outside of Amsterdam! I for one was very excited because I have realized over the last ten days that I'm not a girl made for the city. The hustle and bustle is nice for a moment, but I like to be able to get away and go back to a place of quite and not as many people. I don't know if it's just being here in an unfamiliar place or just how I am in general, but it's definitely allowed me to examine certain aspects of myself.
We got up somewhat early and received TRAM PASSES!!! Ugh, thankfully, our day would be filled with a little less walking! We headed to Central Station and caught our train to Rotterdam, which took about an hour. In no time, I was sleep!! I guess I needed the rest. Once we made it, we were able to rent bikes and begin our journey!!

First off, I would like to say that bicycles are a form of transportation in Holland. There is real bike traffic and a completely different kind of living!! Thinking that riding bikes here is similar to riding bikes back at home in the neighborhood will HIGHLY disappoint you!! Rotterdam goes at a much slower pace than Amsterdam, but still, I felt like I needed my training wheels back! It was easy to get the hang of, but honestly, it was like driving a car for the first time, being so nervous and cautious about everything and everyone! I'm sure EVERYONE could tell that we were tourist. Oh well!
We rode our bikes to the Port and got on a boat to do the tour, and there, I found out another thing about myself! I can easily get sea-sick! Usually, when I traveling and there is any kind of turbulence and rocking, it puts me to sleep, almost like it's calming. But being on a boat and in water made me feel otherwise! I loved being able to see the sites and enjoy this tour, but I wish I didn't want to lay down the entire time!

Once we were back on land, (which I was I so thankful for), we hopped back on our bikes and headed for the lake! The ride was okay, because some of us were still getting used to riding and the flow of things, but it was so beautiful and such an authentic experience. The lake was absolutely beautiful!!! Just the area and everything was definitely something I could get used to. Rotterdam was exactly was I needed and just my speed!! I wished we could have gotten the chance to stay here longer, but I know many would no enjoy it like I would.

Next, we moved on to a place where we could feed the deer!! This was a moment I had been looking forward to all week! I bought some ice cream, and at first, they were super uninterested, but I was determined!! There were some ladies feeding one deer some bread and that started a frenzy, so I took this chance as my chance and it was success!! It went quickly, but it was great!! After, we left a rode back to Central Station. Our day was about over and I couldn't believe it went by so quickly! Rotterdam, until we meet again!!