Last weekend, I was able to travel to Berlin through my program. The trip was such a breath of fresh air, as the program coordinators transported us to the city on a charter bus and arranged for us to stay in a hotel for the weekend. This meant that we each got private bathrooms, room keys, and a full breakfast every morning of our stay- luxuries that I had not thought possible since being here. After weeks of traveling via anxiety-filled train rides only to arrive at hostels housing bunk beds that swayed in the breeze from an open window (true story), this trip seemed like a dream.
And it was. I spent the weekend strolling from one historical communist site to another and eating currywurst like my life depended on it. Does it really get much better than that? Maybe for some people it does, but I felt like I was on cloud nine as I faced the Berlin Wall and Checkpoint Charlie for the first time seeing them beyond the pages of my textbooks.
Berlin is also much more westernized that Prague is, so my friends and I were reintroduced to certain day to day luxuries that we had been deprived of since arriving in Prague. These luxuries included free water at restaurants, the ability to use our credit cards ANYWHERE, and filtered coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts. It is here I learned that Berliner actually means doughnut in German, which really degrades Kennedy’s famous line “ich bin ein Berliner.”
I must say, however, that perhaps the best part of getting away for the weekend was returning to Prague. After being in Berlin, I couldn’t wait to return to the Czech Republic, which made me feel like Prague has really become my home. Certainly the exchange rate of the Euro had something to do with my feelings of nostalgia for the city, but, more notably, by the end of the weekend I was missing the dirty sidewalks and old buildings that Berlin’s clean, modern streets could not give me. Needless to say, it is good to be home.