Saturday, April 26, 2014

First Week in Berlin!

It is now Day 4 in Berlin, Germany and we have done soooo much! I haven't had free WiFi much because in our hotel we are only given 30 minutes free a day between Ashley and I in our room. All of you all in America, be thankful for free WiFi in public places because there isn't much here in Germany. Oh and there also aren't free public restrooms..yep that's right you heard me, you have to pay to use the restroom here. Insane. But I wanted to share my day to day adventures with you all so here it goes!

On Tuesday, our plane landed in the Berlin airport. It was an extremely smooth plane ride. We hit some turbulence but not much at all. I expected to be able to see the Atlantic Ocean but all we could see were the clouds we were flying over. I didn't sleep much on the flight. I think the exhaustion caught up to me because at the end of the flight, I felt nauseous. I got sick at the end of the flight and ended up staying sick that whole day. Heike, our German coordinator (who is amazing might I add) brought me a Coca Cola to help my stomach. Although it tasted very good, it did not really help my stomach. I had to lay in the hotel bed all day because of the nausea.

On Wednesday, I was extremely thankful to be feeling much better! We woke up and went downstairs to the breakfast buffet. It is definitely one of the perks of our hotel! There are everything from muffins to bacon to fruit on it. And it's included in our stay here. Our hotel is located near a train station which is very convenient. We hopped on the train and got off at the main train station in downtown Berlin. We took a short walk to the Reichstag building (Germany's Capital building). The building has a huge lawn in front of it where people were sitting and taking pictures. It was a very beautiful building and the German phrase on the front of it meant 'For the German people'. We actually were able to go inside the building and even venture to the very top. The top of the bulding is a glass dome where you can get a pretty incredible view of the entire city. After we spent some time at the top of the building, we got the chance to meet a couple of guys who work for the woman who represents Werne. This was one of my fave parts of the day because one of the guys was veryyy attractive. Actually his name was Stefan (it even sounds beautiful). After we went to the Reichstag, we ate a snack in the cafeteria and walked around the town for an hour or so. Then we went to dinner as a group. I ordered a salad because I was still full from the snack we had. After dinner, some of the group ventured into the city to find some pubs to hang out in. We found one after walking around for a bit and hung out there.

On Thursday, we went on a 5 hour bike tour through Potsdam. I was feeling very anxious for this adventure. I hadn't rode a bike in years so I wasn't sure how well it would go but it ended up being very fun! It was more of a leisure ride than a fast-paced ride. We ended up riding 12 kilometers total! We actually got the chance to visit the place where the Potsdam Conference took place-that was very cool to me! We ate lunch in a cafe that used to be a dairy farm. I ordered a hashbrown dish, after Heike translated the menu for us. It was hashbrowns that were topped with powdered sugar and served with a side of applesauce. It was an interesting meal. After lunch, we rode our bikes to Frederick the Great's palace. It was massive! I could not believe someone actually had lived there. After the bike ride, we rode the train downtown and grabbed dinner. I tried currywurst for the first time. I can't really say that I liked it too much but I can at least say I tried it, right?! After dinner, Ashley and I rode the train back to our hotel and rested. Trust me, I was exhausted!

On Friday, we woke up, ate breakfast and then rode the train downtown. We had a walking tour scheduled for in the morning. We met our tour guide and started our tour at the Brandenburg Gate. We learned that the Brandenburg Gate signified freedom to the Germans and was the gateway between the East and West parts of Germany during the time that the Berlin Wall was up. Hotel Aldo was located near the Brandenburg Gate which is where Micheal Jackson held his baby out the window (thought that was pretty fascinating). After visiting the Brandenburg Gate, we went to the Holocaust Memorial site. We were allowed 20 minutes to walk through it. It had rows of concrete slabs, some very tall and others very short. The pathways would curve up and down and it was almost like a maze. I felt very lost, confused and empty walking through it. After visiting this, we walked to the French Dome, the German Dome and a fancy musical hall. We then had lunch at a cafeteria inside a shopping mall. It was buffet style and I accidentally ended up spending 17 Euro on my meal (which is ALOT). After dinner, we split up and visited the East Side Gallery. This was where different artists had taken sections of the wall and painted on it. Ashley and I then wanted to go to the Potsdamer Platz so we took the train (all by ourselves might I add) and found a nice little restaraunt downtown with cute little umbrellas outside. They even had English menus for us! We ordered a desert to share and I ordered a Berliner beer with lemonade mixed in. It was delish! After sitting there awhile, we decided we were hungry so we ordered some food too. We took a bus back to our hotel and ended up figuring out how to play Frozen on my laptop. The perfect ending to the perfect day!

This morning we went to a concentration camp called Sachsenhausen. I have always wanted to visit a concentration camp since I started learning about the Holocaust in middle school. We got there and paid 3 Euro for an audioguide that was in English and a map. We walked along a path to the entrance of the camp and walked through the gate. There was a German phrase on gate which meant 'Work Liberates'. I did not expect to feel the way I did when I walked through the gate. It felt very heavy and haunting. The audiotape said that 200,000 prisoners went through this camp and 12,000 died there. It was very eery but I am glad I was able to experience it. After the camp, we rode the train back into town and ate lunch at a cafe in Tiergarten. Ashley and I split a club sandwich and french fries. It was delish! After eating, we walked through a flea market and then headed back toward our hotel which is where I am now! We are going to dinner tonight and then we are leaving Berlin tomorrow for Werne. I am so excited to meet my host family and teach at the local elementary school! I will try to post more soon with pictures!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Counting Down the days, hours and minutesss

Guten tag! 

My name is Amber. I'm an Elementary Education major and a soon-to-be graduate of Western Kentucky University. Crossing my fingers for a teaching job come August (might want to cross my toes too). Before I graduate, I am flying across the globe allll the way to Germany to complete the final lap of my student teaching! To say I'm excited is an understatement. I have been extremely blessed with my two student teaching placements so far--2nd grade at Briarwood Elementary and then 6th grade at Natcher Elementary. I have absolutely fallen in love with this career and the students. They make my heart so happy and I now know more than I ever have before that this is EXACTLY what God wanted me to do in life and what my purpose is in this life. 

Soo let's cut to the chase. On Monday, at 8:55 AM, this small town girl will be boarding an airplane en route to Germany--can't wrap my mind around that still! But I do have several things to do before I am even remotely prepared for this trip. It's Friday, haven't started packing. Typical Amber. Actually I haven't even done the laundry I need to do to be able to pack so that's going to be my Friday night. Nonetheless, I'm excited to go home this weekend and enjoy the last few days with my family and friends until I'm all the way across the world. No big deal. Although I have no idea what to expect in Germany, I am completely ready to immerse myself in the culture and let this experience change my life. This is an experience of a lifetime and I plan on making the absolute most of it. Of course I wouldn't even have this opportunity without the love, support (and lets be honest here, funds) of my family, especially my mom and dad, and my friends. I can't wait to share my adventures with you all :)