21 January 2019

Visiting the capital city of Berlin provided fascinating insights into German culture and history. Being constantly immersed in German everyday life aided language learning and use tremendously.

Highlights of the trip included several walking tours and guided culture visits, such as to the GDR museum and former Stasi (secret police) HQ. The Berliner Mauer museum and TV tower were equally interesting, and the cultural impact of Berlin’s rich history was certainly felt by many.

The third year group also enjoyed interactive experiences at the Technikmuseum and the Computer game museum, the Rittersport Schokowelt, several Christmas markets as well as a guided tour of the Olympic Stadium.

Of particular interest to me was the German History museum, which displayed innumerate interesting artefacts dating back as far as 500 AD, when ‘Germany’ itself did not formally exist until the 19th Century. At the heart of Europe, Berlin had experienced life under the Holy Roman Empire, as an empire of its own right, as a divided city, and finally as a unified metropolis.

Naturally, the trip yielded various other benefits beside historical learning. We were also able to navigate the complex U-Bahn and S-Bahn routes around Berlin, mainly with the guidance of Ms Widdern and ‘Verkehrsminister’ James Chung. Our group enjoyed not only traditional German cuisine like Pretzel and Bratwurst, but also Vietnamese food, Turkish Döner, reflecting some of culture of the largest migrant communities in Berlin.

As an aid to our cultural learning we visited the Maxim Gorki Theater to see a play entitled “Get Deutsch or die tryin’”, which, although confusing at times, conveyed messages about integration and the problems that many immigrants face, particularly relevant in relation to mass immigration from Syria in recent years. A trip to the backstage of Berliner Ensemble, Bertolt Brecht’s theatre, was also a treat, the spinning section of the stage particularly fascinating since it contained wheels from old WW2 tanks.

The various Christmas markets around Berlin added to the excitement of the trip, and our visit to the Gendarmenmarkt on the last night was especially rewarding; there was a live concert and plenty of gift shops.

In our free time on the penultimate day of the trip we were given free reign to wander the city in small groups of 3 or 4, in which we could explore independently. It was certainly a lot of fun to visit previously unseen places, and I found it stunning that, even after 4 days in the city, there were still areas I had yet to discover.

I would recommend the trip to anyone interested in German culture, art, history, drama, and/or language; an overall stunning and well timed trip that was worthwhile, relatively short and action-packed. Make sure to wear walking boots!

Written by Oliver Williams

More News