Wabash Blogs Immersion 2008: Germany
 

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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.