My Last Week in Berlin
Here’s some crazy news: This is my last week of class at the Berlin School of Economics and Law! It feels like I have been living in Berlin for months (or years), but sometimes I still can’t believe that 3 weeks have gone by so fast! Unfortunately, I’ve been struggling a little bit with homesickness lately…I even took a 45 minute subway ride to find a Mexican restaurant that reminded me of Arizona. But all of my homesickness should be cured soon because my mom and grandma are coming to Germany to visit me in a few days! I’m really excited to show them around this beautiful city, now that I feel like an expert! I’ll be able to show them where I’ve been going to school, and all of my favorite ice cream shops (which is what I’ve been eating for two meals a day since I’ve been living here). We are also heading to Amsterdam and Belgium after that, so we’ll be gone for about 3 more weeks! The number one thing on my bucket list has always been “travel to 25 different countries,” and I’m proud that I’ll be able to complete my goal in less than a month! It feels pretty great to accomplish that at only 20 years old. Hopefully, I’ll get to enjoy that happiness for a little while before I melt when I get back to the 115 degree heat in Phoenix.
The highlight of my week: This past weekend, our onsite CEA Program Director, Kristin Kerr, took us on a little weekend excursion to the Czech Republic. Everyone seemed really excited, but I honestly had never thought about visiting there before. I had never even seen a picture of the country! I had no idea what to expect. Right after school on Friday, we boarded a train from Berlin to Prague, which took about 5 hours. It was a very long and restless ride, but it was definitely worth it! After only being there for about 10 minutes, I knew right away that Prague was one of the most breathtaking cities I’ve ever been to. Each of the houses had a brightly colored red roof, which looked beautiful contrasting against all of the green trees and plants. We were also able to try some traditional Czech food—I stuck to the goulash, which was really tender beef (I think) in a gravy-like sauce and a side of bread dumplings. It was absolutely delicious, but so filling! Not even the hungry college boys in our group could finish their plate.
Classes Abroad: I recently realized that I haven’t mentioned any details about how my classes are going! Well, my European Business and Economics summer program consisted of 5 classes—German, Values & Politics of the European Union, Economics of the European Union, Cross-Cultural Management, and Marketing for the Automobile Industry (all taught in English). However, I wasn’t able to take the German class; it wasn’t advanced enough for me since I’ve already had 4 years of lessons. That made me a little disappointed because that’s the class I was most looking forward to taking! But I’ve really enjoyed all of my other courses, especially Cross-cultural Management. Each class also comes with a set of field trips for the students, so I’ve had the opportunity to visit some pretty amazing places, such as the Volkswagen Factory, a concentration camp, and the beautiful Charlottenburg palace. It’s great to be able to learn while getting out of the classroom for a few hours.
My favorite part of school, though, has to be the diversity in the classroom. There are 25 students and only 7 are from the United States. The remaining students are from India, Serbia, England, Italy, Sweden, Russia, and practically any other country you can think of. It’s kind of crazy to know that nearly 70% of the class is from a country where English isn’t their primary language, yet we are all able to understand each other and communicate effectively. I also know that the course concepts can be a little challenging for me to comprehend at times, so it really puts things into perspective; it makes me wonder how the other students feel when the lectures get confusing, since English isn’t their first language. I feel that way on a daily basis here. I always thought I was pretty advanced with the German language, since I do have 4 years of experience. But after being here, it seems like all of my skills have deteriorated. The locals talk so fast and use a lot of vocabulary that I haven’t heard before. But it’s great to have a little challenge, so even a successful trip of grocery shopping by myself makes me feel proud!
McKenzie McClanahan is the Summer 2015 CEA Mojo Blogger in Berlin, Germany. She is currently a junior at Concordia University, Nebraska.