​Greetings from Berlin! We have been here for about two and a half days and it has been quite a change from Poland. Berlin is so much bigger than Krakow and Oświęcim and I can’t say that I’m exactly used to it all yet. Yesterday, I woke up with a pretty gnarly cold and its been making me a bit less friendly than usual. Other than that, I think it has been going pretty okay. Today we visited the Jüdisches Museum in Berlin and did a theatre workshop [Forced into Exile] for three hours. It wasn’t my cup of tea, but I appreciate the fact that our instructor took time out of her day to teach us about the Holocaust in a way that we haven’t really ever been exposed to on this trip. Some of us got really into it and enjoyed it; but I’m more of a museum/book/let’s-just-get the-solid-facts kind of a guy. We were instructed to various acting exercises like posing as real life statues to represent exile and immigration during the Holocaust. We also split into four groups and acted out a few scenes that we got to script and choreograph ourselves.

​The Jüdisches Museum is a very interesting place. When you first enter, it feels like you’re at the airport because you have to go through a very similar security process. This is because at every Jewish museum, synagogue, and even Jewish schools have at least one police officer stationed outside (or inside) at all times. They are stationed there because there is still a lot of anti-Semitism in Berlin. Our previous tour guide, Dr. Jander relayed to us that 20-25% of the German population is strongly anti-Semitic. When I heard that, at first I didn’t really believe it. I didn’t think that many people could really still have such negative feelings about a group of people—but then I thought about how racism is still pretty rampant throughout the United States. It’s sad, really, that some people decide whether or not they like a person based on something as trivial as race. I don’t think I’ll ever understand it.

​After you get past security and proceed to the actual museum, you will find out that it is quite the peculiar building. It was designed in a zig-zag pattern and the ground is very uneven. It is to symbolize the uncertainty and unpleasant conditions that those being forced to emigrate, go into exile, or sent to concentration camps felt. Of course, this was nothing compared to what those who were affected by the Holocaust actually felt; but the symbolic meaning is very strong. The rest of the museum is pretty standard, I would say. Many facts, artifacts, and stories were present, and were very interesting.

​After our workshop, we went to lunch at a little cafe near the museum and I had the nutritious lunch of a Mars bar and a doughnut complete with a Fanta. It was nice, though. Then, we went back to the museum where Kari, David, and Tim informed us of a little surprise they had prepared whilst we were in our workshop. We were to go to a place that they had picked. It involved utilizing the underground train system. At first, I was pretty angry. I was feeling tired and sick and just wanted to go back to bed. We found our location with ease…but I can’t actually remember the name [Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church] of the place because we didn’t actually go inside. It looked like it was closed for construction or something. Thankfully, there was a pretty big mall right by the church. Hannah, Alex, Nicola, and I went in and went shopping. It was nice to finally get some time to just hang out and everything. I got loads of chocolate…it’s so delicious!

​After shopping, we went to dinner at the restaurant that we went to on our first night in Berlin. We all ordered Currywurste which is sausage covered in this spicy sauce. It’s a bit hard to explain but it was extremely delicious and I kind of want more of it. It was such a good price that I am definitely planning to visit it again. Other than that, not much else I think has really happened that you guys don’t already know about. I have to admit, I am really missing home and I’m eager to be back in the States with my family and friends.

Have a good one!
Brandon

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