Wabash Blogs Immersion 2008: Germany -

March 10, 2008

Thank You

- It’s Monday and we all got back quite late Sunday evening – around 11:30 PM and that’s after leaving Berlin around 1:30 AM (Indiana time). The trip can certainly be deemed a success; it was filled with culture, challenge, and a ton of fun. The week could not have been so successful without the help of Professors Tucker and Zara as well as Professor Tucker’s father, Alen Tucker and Professor Zara’s husband, Chris Klein. Without the help of these individuals the week would not have gone nearly as well. We would all like to extend a large hand of thanks to all the work that these individuals put into planning this trip.

- Students of German 202

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March 08, 2008

Final Berlin Adventures

Cole Hatcher '11: The day began as most have thus far, most of us woke up a little later than what some would desire, some fresh bread and cheese with a quick cup of coffee to open our eyes, and a brisk walk to meet Professor five minutes later than what he would desire. But soon we were off on our sore legs and sore feet, and just as soon we forgot the small annoyances, as we all knew this was our last full day in this beautiful city. After greeting Professor and hearing the day’s itinerary we fell into our short walk to the S-Bahn, which would eventually lead us to Pergamon Museum. Pergamon Museum is a collection of what has obviously been recovered from the ancient Greek city of Pergamon. Most of the exhibits in the museum have the subtleties of classic Greek art and sculpture, but the first room that you are led into lacks those common subtleties. It strikes you with the overwhelming size and beauty of the steps with its surrounding sculptures and columns. After climbing one step, I found out, to my chagrin, they were unusually steep steps that were particularly deceiving as to their amount. I was not about to be out climbed by a little Italian boy that I soon found passing me. After destroying the boys hopes for victory, and a little trash talking, I reached the top victorious. Now I was ready to view some history, I sifted through the exhibits displayed in that particular room, reading as much as I could find. I eventually found all I could and decided to make the trek back to the bottom, but that was before I saw my opponent laughing as he climbed, what I'm sure was not his second voyage to the top. Feeling somewhat defeated, I decided to travel the rest of the museum in hopes that the rest of the museum would be more uplifting. And not to my surprise it was. Several of us moved room to room sometimes discussing amongst ourselves the displays, but more commonly we viewed each piece to ourselves. One and a half hours quickly passed and we all found our stomachs empty and unhappy. Lunch was enjoyed, but we quickly found ourselves walking again. Professor Tucker wanted to finish the day with enough time for everyone to have chance to go where they wanted after. Next on the places to view was the modern Potsdamer Platz, after a presentation from Fillip Lempa we headed to the Memorial for the German Resistance in Berlin. It is a memorial for those that were killed after the attempted assignation of Hitler by Colonel Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg. With the last presentation of the day over the attempt and the persecution of all possible conspirators, our last full day in Berlin with Professor Tucker was complete. We finished our day as we pleased with the only stipulation being a packed bag before heading to bed for our last nights sleep in Berlin.

Farewell from Berlin,

-Cole Hatcher '11

Images: Top left: Barry Ooi, Bottom Right: German Resistance Memorial.

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Wabash's vast reach

Sam Prellwitz '10: When you fly a few thousand miles over an ocean and stay in a European city you don't expect to see people associated with Wabash college that just so happen to be in the city. Mark Shreve, alum of Wabash College class of 2004, just happened to be visiting Joela Zeller, a friend to the German department of Wabash the same week as our eventful expedition. In doing so, Joela served as a great tour guide, showing us the Turkish area of Berlin, and Mark entertained with stories of his time abroad, both as a student and now as an employee of a study-abroad company in Italy. By the end of the day, we had a greater understanding of both what it’s like to be a German confronting contemporary German issues as well as what it is like to be an American, Wabash man fully immersed in a foreign culture. We would like to extend a special thanks to both of these individuals for facilitating such contemporary cultural immersion.

- Sam Prellwitz 

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Luke Blakeslee '11: Today, our second-to-last day of touring, we spent exploring the diversity of Berlin. Unbeknownst to many, Berlin is a highly diversified international hub. The city underwent great diversification after World War II, when a national guest workers program invited laborers from other European countries, especially Turkey, to help rebuild the country after the War. The original program called for skilled male workers to come, work, and leave within three years. However, the men often settled in and made Germany their permanent home, immigrating their families up to join them. Today more than 2 million Turks live in Berlin, making up the largest non-German group in the city.
A large portion of the city's diversity is concentrated in Kreuzberg, a borough in the very center of Berlin. The giant Turkish population lives and works primarily here. Many of the people in Kreuzberg speak only Turkish, making communication for us an interesting experience. Fortunately for us, we were joined by a native Berliner and friend of Dr. Tucker, who gave us a personal tour of Kreuzberg. She navigated us through the busy streets directly to the Kreuzberg Museum. There we learned the history of Turkish migration to Germany. In visiting their community and culture we were able to enjoy an outdoor market and authentic Turkish restaurant. Our meal at the restaurant consisted of a wide array of different kabobs, spices, and breads, finished off with a Turkish dessert tea.
Kreuzberg is an interesting part of the city for another reason, too. Being on the far eastern side of the former West Berlin, it was a border town edged by the Berlin Wall. In the Kreuzberg Museum we also were able to see how the borough had changed since the era of the Cold War. Before and after photos revealed how the once harsh confrontation zone between East and West had changed into a bustling city center.
We left the borough footsore and belly-full, but excited by the day's new cultural experience. The trip's second-to-last tour was a top-notch day.

-Luke Blakeslee '11

Pictures: Top - Group shot in front of the Kreuzburg Museum, Bottom - Turkish market.

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March 07, 2008

Filip Lempe '11: Today we were able to have a taste of the multi-cultural dimension of Berlin. After our tasty breakfast at the hostel we headed for Kreuzberg, a district in the middle of Berlin. Because of the continuing strike of the public transportation workers, we were forced to walk more than we were supposed to. However, because the weather improved, most of us didn't mind that at all.
Our first destination was the Kreuzberg Museum where we learned about the many immigrants who are a vital part of Berlin. We watched movies, looked at photographs, and admired exhibits. We also heard a presentation about the multicultural Berlin by a German native.
The next stop was the Kreuzberg Bazaar. It was a magical place with many stands offering fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, traditional Turkish food, and much more.
Last but not least, we experienced some truly Turkish cuisine at the Hasir Restaurant. We had an opportunity to try many different dishes, which was great news to all the food lovers. The relaxed atmosphere, better weather, and interesting presentation made this Friday very enjoyable.

- Filip Lempe

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March 06, 2008

Free day

Nick Durm ’11: Today was our free day to go out and pursue an individual interest we have in Berlin. Luke and I went to Olympiastadion. I'm a little bit of a jock so I have a strong interest in everything about sports. Stadiums, especially with historical background are a strong interest of mine, so this was right up my alley. For those who don't know, Olympiastadion (Olympic Stadium) in Berlin was built as part of a greater sports complex by Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich for the 1933 Olympics. We got in and had almost free reign over the stadium to explore. We had an audio tour through headphones that were really informative. For example, it played a bit of a war of words Jesse Owens and Adolph Hitler had through the media during those 1933 Olympics. Owens won three gold medals that year and Hitler refused to shake his hand because of his race. Luke and I went from the very top row to the very front row and got plenty of pictures to document our tour.

After that we met up with Harrison and did a little wondering around some of the shops around town. We hit the KDW (Kaufhaus Des Westens - A massive department store full of about everything you could ever want from many western nations) as well as Nike and Adidas outlets. Tonight we're going out to dinner with Dr. Tucker's father to San Marco, an Italian restaurant down the street.

Thanks for reading,

-Nick Durm ‘11

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Full Trains

Sam Prellwitz ’10 – Things were slightly complicated today. At three o'clock this morning (German time) the U-bahn (one of the two main train systems in Berlin) along with the bus line stopped running. This is a result of the strike by members of that specific transportation union. The city of Berlin is now left with only one train system, which makes life especially difficult when attempting to get from one place to another. The normal routes that a person can take aren't applicable and everything has been re-routed. Not only has it been re-routed, but also because there are only half the normal amount of trains running every train is packed full with hundreds of people who would normally be riding the U-bahn. This situation has made for some additional headaches, but more importantly a bunch of fun! We’ve been testing our ability to navigate the city with only half the lines and it’s certainly a challenge sometime to even squeeze onto the train. This is especially so when it’s a large group of us. It has certainly added an interesting detail to an already fun trip.

Much of the experience here in Berlin has been in the form of art. The art is not typical; it is actually often in the form of Graffiti. Berlin is one of the most graffiti filled places in the world. Perhaps not because it has the most people who participate, but rather because it is not as readily covered by new layers of paint as in most other areas of the world. This certainly gives Berlin a highly distinct character. The obvious area that has graffiti is the Berlin Wall. We went to see a section of the wall, which may or may not be the most colorful stretch of wall on earth, but nonetheless it is quite colorful. The section of wall is called the East side Gallery. Historically it was perfectly clean. The east side of Berlin did not allow any form of Graffiti. After the wall fell, this section of the wall was preserved and 118 artists came and painted a total of 106 paintings. Since the original paintings were created, over time they have been either defaced, or simply added to, depending on your opinion, by numerous amateur graffiti artists. The original paintings portray the desires of the East Berliners during their time under the Soviet Block. They often portray images of jumping the wall and many other desires while under the oppressive and gate-keeping East-Berlin government.

Experiencing Berlin has been just that, an experience witnessed from every aspect of its broad culture, where even a walk down the street is a cultural experience.

- Sam Prellwitz '10

Pictures: Top left: Group in the train station, Bottom right: The East Side Gallery.

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