Berlin: A Capital and More

Last weekend, the California State University students who are in Germany took a trip from our cozy region of Baden-Württemberg to the capital of the Federal Republic of Germany, Berlin. Berlin is quite different from the wooded southwest that I am studying in. The city motto “Poor, but sexy” is well deserved. The city is still rebuilding after the unification of Germany, thus old and new are juxtaposed.

Outside at the Reichstag Building (Fall is chilly!).

We were invited to do a tour of multiple buildings that are part of the federal government, including the Parliament, interior ministry and the chancellery. It’s interesting to find out how new everything is, with most buildings having been opened in the mid-2000s. The entire government had to move from Bonn (located far west in Germany) to Berlin after the country was unified. The city however is much more than the political capital, there’s culture there, and it is everywhere!

Me inside the Reichstag building, current seat of the German parliament.

Everywhere in the city, you can find art. The East Side Gallery features remnants of the Berlin Wall which now have artwork from contemporary artists on it. Berlin’s bar scene is home to the more artsy crowd in Germany, and you will always find interesting people within them. I had gone with a few fellow students to have a nice chat at a bar, and there I got to meet a Mexican artist who was from Tijuana who had her work being shown in an art gallery in Berlin (talk about small world!).

Art installation in front of the Brandenburg Gate, this piece recreates 3 buses that residents of Aleppo, Syria had placed up to protect themselves from sniper fire.

Berlin is also home to some great street food! One such item is currywurst! A cut up sausage with spicy curry ketchup and served with French fries. There are stands everywhere, and it is considered a well-known comfort food in Germany.

There is also döner kebab, a sandwich filled with meat, sauces and veggies. It was brought by Turkish immigrants and is quite the treat and cheap at 3.50€! There are kebab stands everywhere, and by coincidence one of the best kebab stands in Berlin, Mustafa’s, was by our hotel in Kreuzberg (a quarter of Berlin). The stand was just by the exit of a U-Bahn stop and thus always had customers in line. According to fellow Aztec, Kurtis, the line is long at every time of day: lunch, dinner or past midnight!

Fellow SDSU Aztecs, Brandon and Kurtis, stand with me in front of the Brandenburg Gate.

Berlin is a great city, and I recommend that everybody visit it. History fans can visit the many museums (175 in fact) that cover a wide range of topics, from the world wars, the Cold War, to even currywurst! Those of the artistic persuasion, can visit countless galleries, see the latest the German art scene has to offer.

Berlin is home to some of the best ethnic food restaurants in Germany as well! Students from the program raved about finally having had real Mexican food again! I went to a ramen house as well — can’t miss out on good Japanese food either!

The trip was memorable, and I plan to visit it again when the weather is more agreeable (this visit made me miss the San Diego sun!)! Being able to hang out with all the students from across the CSU system was fun as well! New connections were made, and our bond as Californians was really felt!

More adventures in Germany await us!

Eduardo Santiago is a German major with a minor in international security and conflict resolution (ISCOR). He is studying in Tübingen, Germany for an entire academic year.

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