As a lot of you may know, Tuesday was my 21st birthday. We've been joking ever since I was accepted into the FUBiS program that I would have the most redundant 21st birthday ever, since I'm already older than the legal drinking age in Germany. Nevertheless, my birthday was anything but boring.
I had my first day of my literature class, during which we watched an interesting movie called Berlin: die Sinfonie der Großstadt. It's a silent film from 1927 that depicts vignettes of Berlin from industry to everyday life. Although the actors (if you can call them that, since it's a semi-documentary of sorts) don't speak, the film is accompanied by a symphony, which fit the scenes perfectly and brings the depictions of a booming, industrial Berlin to life. In contrast to this depiction is the quiet street below on which my class building is located.
After watching the film and during our lunch break, I and a group of my fellow students decided find a restaurant, get something to eat, and get to know one another a bit better. After much deliberation, we decided on a Vietnamese restaurant. Although it was a cute place with great soup, my actual entree left a lot to be desired. Apparently the sweet and sour sauce to which I'm accustomed is vastly different with Vietnamese food.
Therein lies my mistake of the day: I tried Vietnamese food for the first time without actually knowing enough about it to make a good choice.
Jordan assures me that Pho (which I didn't try) is delicious, but it might be a while before I can work my way up to trying it.
Fortunately for me, dinner with my host family more than made up for my second unsavory lunch experience. Karoline is a fantastic cook, and she made pasta with spinach and ricotta, as well as this awesome carrot cake (Karottenkuchen) with pistachios.
The day got even better when I got to reunite with my dear friend Maren for an outing to Tempelhofer Feld. Unfortunately, we forgot to take a picture of the two of us together, but we have other outings planned.
Tempelhofer Feld used to be an airport, but is now I gigantic park for the people of Berlin. I'm also pretty sure it's one of the few places in Berlin where you can't hear any traffic. Maren and I also exhausted ourselves by walking to it from my apartment and back, which was about 6 kilometers total according to Google Maps.
That brings us to yesterday. After spending all morning in my language class, I dropped off my stuff at my apartment and went on a boat tour on the Spree river with Jordan, Anna, and a bunch of other FUBiS students. The section of the Spree we visited is primarily in the area in and around Alexanderplatz, so we had quite a bit to see. Here's a photo of the Berliner Fernsehturm. It's the tallest structure in Germany and is a famous symbol of Berlin.
The following three pictures are of the Berliner Dom, a famous Protestant cathedral on Museen Insel (Museum Island) in Alexanderplatz.
Although it was damaged during the Allied bombing of Berlin in World War II, it's since been fully restored.
You can tell I really love the architecture of this building. I'm pretty sure I have a 1:1 Dom/everything else picture ratio.
Here's a picture of the Reichstag, the seat of the German parliament.
Part of an interesting bridge.
And finally, the Berliner Weisse I had at dinner with Jordan, Anna, Heidi, and Emory.
Funny anecdote time:
While at dinner at a street side restaurant, the other students and I noticed something we didn't expect to see. Throughout our dinner, we saw many scantily-clad women walking down the street all in the same direction. They were wearing almost the exact same outfit and all had long, straight blonde hair (with the exception of a few brunettes). As we were enjoying our meal, we pondered where they could be going given our observations. Perhaps they worked at the same nightclub as hostesses or dancers? Perhaps they were all going to some sort of theme party, where the dress code required corsets and fishnets? Perhaps it was some sort of clandestine underground subculture meetup? Honestly, it's a little embarrassing how long it took us to learn the truth. It wasn't until we saw two of the women loitering around the street corners that we realized what was going on. And that's how a group of American students realized that prostitution is legal in Germany.
My mistake of the day also occurred at the restaurant, and no, it had nothing to do with the former anecdote.
Mistake of the day: I drank a Cafe Amaretto after dinner and consequently could fall asleep for hours.
This brings us up to today, during which nothing of note happened other than a ridiculous amount of fatigue (and thankfully a nap). Tomorrow Maren and I will meet up and perhaps cross something off my list of sights/touristy things to see (Sehenswürdigkeiten).
Also, I'd like to apologize if (more like when) my English deteriorates over the next few weeks. The program is really intensive, and I normally speak German for 5-8 hours per day. Not that I'm complaining :)