2018 Spring Conor Freeley External Programs Germany IES Abroad

The Grace Period: Week 1 in Berlin

“Ich bin ein Berliner. Ich bin ein Berliner. Ich bin ein Berliner.”

If JFK could proclaim those powerful words through his Massachusetts accent, why can’t I?

My first week in Berlin was one of the most fun, most informative, densest weeks I have ever experienced in travel. Our study abroad program set up a week of orientation for us, mixing your basic presentations on German etiquette, subway navigation, and “how not to get pick-pocketed” with tours of some of the most beautiful and famous sights in Berlin. Naturally, the time spent outside of the program-sanctioned events was spent socializing with my new friends from all across the country. While the tours and presentations have been incredible beneficial learning experiences, putting 40+ college juniors who don’t know each other in a room has been a remarkable sociological experiment. Just five days in, I feel as close with these people who are brand new to my life as I do with my friends that I’ve had for years. That, I believe is the magic of studying abroad. Regardless of schools, backgrounds, or home states, we are all here for the same reason: to learn, to travel, and to transform our college experiences. In doing so, I have learned that people can gain meaningful friendships in a matter of days.

Despite the incredible people surrounding me, it seems like becoming a Berliner may end up being harder than I thought it would be. My first week was really spent as a tourist, not a resident. Although being a tourist is important for orientation, the week went by like a blur, and when the first Monday rolled around and classes began, it hit me. I am no longer a tourist, but a resident. I am not flying home in a few days, but a few months. I am a Bostonian, but for now, ich bin ein Berliner.


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