Well I have been in Berlin for a few weeks now and I must say the city never ceases to amaze me. The city is much bigger than I had expected and there is so much to explore. Each day I try and explore more and more. I found the best way to travel is by walking. This way to get to take in all of the sites and sounds of the lively city. Sure the public transportation is very advanced and sophisticated from trains (aka S-bahns), subways (aka U-bahns), their trams as well as many taxis, however walking and biking seems to be the way to go. There is actually a bike license I must take a course for in order to ride through the city. There are many different traffic patterns and rules compared to the US that if you do not understand you will get hurt. Some of these include actual bike lanes and traffic lights as well as separate traffic lights for autos and others for trams. Jay walking is extremely frowned upon here and the locals will have no problem yelling and screaming at you when you are in the wrong. Even the dogs are extremely well behaved and most walk without leashes and sometimes even without their owners present. They wait patiently outside of stores and don't interact with other people and dogs, however they will poop right on the sidewalk so watch where you step.
Coming to Berlin I thought it was going to be very clean and environmentally friendly. From what I read about Germany that's how I thought they all operated. Not in Berlin though. I discovered that since the end of WWII they have had their ups and downs and actually lost most of their industry and became a run down city comparable to Detroit. Since then the culture has boomed with life and is one of the few cities in Europe in which you'll find a great collection of different views and opinions. Almost like New York City and probably just as dirty. But behind all of the dirt and grime you see a beautiful city that is teeming with life and culture and everyone loves to be in Berlin and often don't like to leave. You have small neighborhoods in some parts and turn the corner and then there are huge office buildings and headquarters as well as key European Union buildings. Also cannot forget to add all of the museums and historic landmarks as well as many rivers and parks and even hiking trails in the outskirt corners of the city.
As for my classes, this Block I am taking International Marketing and German 1001. The German class meets 10 hours a week for the 6 week block and we cram a lot of learning into that short period. The marketing class is awesome where we meet 6 hours a week for the 6 weeks and we discuss everything from marketing to politics but mostly focus on the cultural differences we notice here and how they play a role in marketing. We are soon going to a local vodka distillery called "Our Berlin Vodka", to see how a local entrepreneur makes his living here.
The friends I've made here so far are also so cool and we are from all over. Think there is a student from at least every state in the US almost and some from Brazil, China, Thailand, Armenia, Italy and Russia. Such a broad spectrum of students all eager to learn and have a great time in the city is a recipe to have a great time. We have a few local bars and clubs that we all enjoy going to such as "Clash", a crowd favorite, which is just 3 blocks down from campus. But there are so many places all throughout the city and we want to explore them all. But we have a few more months for that! We are also planning a few trips to go for the weekends and vacations. Some include going to Poland to hike a 10,000ft mountain, Prague, Hamburg, Florence, Rome, Barcelona, and Croatia for the end of the semester where a few of us would like to attend yacht week and sail around and party the islands of Croatia for a week.