by Ouma Amadou
On May 9th I took my last final, finished packing up my room, and said goodbye to freshmen year. On May 10th I said hello to sophomore year and boarded a flight to Berlin (Berlin, Germany just for clarification). As I spent that day shuffling through airports, dragging my luggage around, and snacking on brown rice crackers, I couldn’t help but to think how did I end up here?
Back in January at home for winter break, my mom told me that I HAD to study abroad somewhere during the summer. She told me that I didn’t have to go for the whole summer, but that I needed to go somewhere, and jumpstart my adventure. As any good daughter would do, I began searching on the ISU Study Abroad website for places to go. I was attracted to Berlin because A) they were still accepting applications, B) one of my Honors section leaders (shout out to E2!) had gone on the trip last year and loved it, and C) I had no previous desire to go to Berlin and I wanted to travel to a place that was a bit out of my comfort zone. I submitted my application and in February I learned that I was accepted to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Global Seminar titled “Berlin’s History and Culture.”
During my time in Berlin, I lived in an apartment in the Mitte district and used the S-Bahns and U-Bahns (subways) to go everywhere. For the class part of the trip (I was enrolled in a 3 credit, 300-level class) we explored the memorialization of Berlin’s history, primarily focusing on the Holocaust, through the architecture, monuments, and museums in the city. We also had a three-day excursion to Dresden to explore an alternative tactic for memorialization of 20th century events like World War II. We wrote journals each week, met for class at least three-four times each week, and had a final project. One of the best parts of this class was that we had a LOT of time to explore the city on our own.
How did I fill my free time? BOOKSTORES!!!! I absolutely LOVE bookstores and I judge a city by the caliber of its bookstores and the variety. Although I do not speak any German, Berlin has lots of cool English-language bookstores. Before arriving in Berlin, I was most excited to visit this store dedicated to selling magazines called Do you read me?!?. It was a heavenly experience! As soon as I walked in, I couldn’t stop smiling. Magazines and books covered all the walls, tables, and displays. I still even remember the address of the store: Auguststrasse 28 (If you love magazines, books about design, fashion, art, and happen to be in Berlin, definitely go!).
I really enjoyed my three weeks in Berlin and now that I’m back home in Missouri, I find myself reminiscing about days spent riding the S-Bahns and U-Bahns, and afternoons in bookstores.