Tuesday’s with Laura: Berlin–Culture and Contrasts

What is culture? What does a kind of food, or a type of dress, or language say about a place? Why do we travel? Why do some of us feel the need to expose ourselves to the unfamiliar, the sometimes uncomfortable yet thrilling foreignness? I don’t really have the answers; all I know is that I love it. Life is fun when I can comfortably communicate as I go about my day, but it’s funnier when all of a sudden I find myself pointing for a bagel and making all sorts of signs to explain the most basic stuff I would normally take for granted, like, “where’s the bathroom?” So, despite the inconveniences, or perhaps challenges, of being in foreign place, it is a low price to pay for life-changing cultural experiences. To see the world through other people’s eyes, to consider the history, development and context of another country, is to widen our minds in an almost indefinable way. I can go on and on about this…but I’ll move on and tell you about Berlin instead. [caption id="attachment_9207" align="aligncenter" width="168" caption="Street art in Berlin"][/caption] Berlin is a city that just over 20 years ago was divided by a wall that kept people in, and out, of the eastern part. It also signified the post-war situation in Europe. Now, it is a thriving metropolis that combines world history and modernity. Berlin is a city where a world-famous music scene, fine and underground art, war scars and power meet. In Berlin you can find the Kaiser Wilhelm Church that still stands after it was bombed in an air raid in 1940; a reminder of the history. And then walk 8 minutes down the street to stumble upon KaDeWe, the second biggest department store in Europe, with over 60,000 sq meters of gourmet products, fashion and luxury. Berlin is home to the most famous techno clubs in the world, like Water Gate and Berghain, and to several Jewish memorials and the most famous Jewish history museum. The architecture, unlike anywhere else in Western Europe represents the different ideologies that divided the city into east and west, furthering the contrast of modern versus older constructions. The people, as a result, are just as diverse as their city. In Berlin there is room for business people, wondering artists, international students, punks, socialists, capitalists, you can find it all in Berlin. There is really no place like it. And even if I wanted to convey how awesome it is, I can only, barely, begin to explain what this city is about. That is why we should all aim to travel. To explore the world is an experience to be had—it’ll change your perspective in life.        

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