SAU Buzz

September 28th, 2017

by Charlette Flanders
Posted on Oct 05, 2017

Hallo, Bees! I have survived finals! Though I am in a new country and school system, it seems that the stress of finals week is universal. There are still students everywhere late at night working on all the assignments they saved for the last minute and drinking tons of coffee. After I finished my last final it hit me that I have completed my first full block in Berlin and a third of my study abroad experience. Crazy!

In the first six weeks, I really took the time to get to know Berlin, especially the public transportation. The metro stations in Berlin are very complex. It took many experiences of getting lost and some shed tears to figure out, but I have it down pat now. I have been able to experience all the iconic sights and find hidden wonders within the city. My favorite part is that I have become part of a community within Berlin by attending a Filipino church weekly. I have also been working out at the local gym and going to a few of my favorite cafés, where I have met several people that are now my friends. It has been comforting to find a sense of belonging in an entirely different country.

 Halfway through the first block, I was able to travel to Dresden, Germany. This may not be a popular tourist destination, but I have been eager to visit since reading Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. Dresden is known as the “Florence of the North” and has a tragic history since it was accidentally bombed in World War II. I spent Friday evening till Sunday afternoon in the small city. The moment I got off the train it felt like I took a step back in time. I was awestruck by the preserved architecture of each building and how accurate the reconstruction was.

There are two parts of Dresden called Old Town and New Town. In Old town, there are historic churches, opera houses and a palace. On the New Town side there’s reconstruction from when there was the bombing during World War II. During the evening, my friends and I were able to experience traditional German dishes such as bratwurst, fries and roasted duck.

After finals, my Mom came to visit and we headed to Rome for the weekend. Call me dorky, but I have been dreaming about going to Rome since the Lizzie McGuire movie. Saturday we spent all day going to tourist attractions and eating/drinking all that Italy has to offer. My mom and myself were proud that I could navigate the city by taking public transportation and not succumbing to tour buses. For me, the Trevi Fountain, the Colosseum, and the Spanish Stairs were my favorite sights. Stepping into these locations is like stepping into a scene from a movie. There is a feeling of comradery, relaxation, and pleasure. And of course, I got my Lizzie McGuire moment! I was able to throw a coin and make a wish in the Trevi Fountain. No, an Italian boy named Paolo did not appear….but I did find an amazing gelato shop. Close enough, right?

On Sunday, we fulfilled something that had long been on my Mom’s bucket list: visiting Vatican City. We walked around the Vatican and attended Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica on Sunday morning. Unexpectedly, Pope Francis came out of the Vatican to bless the crowd with the Angelus prayer. The sacredness of the moment brought my Mom and I to tears. We were overwhelmed even before Pope Francis came out, but after there was something even more moving about the moment.

My mom has gone back to Iowa, I am back in Berlin, and it is time to get back to work and start my next block of classes in my CIEE program. I am missing all my Bees, but wouldn’t trade the experiences I have had in Europe for anything!