Viele Grüße aus Berlin!

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Die ganze Gruppe v.l.n.r.: Pinja, Kaija, Juho, Joonas, Magdalini, Essi, Susa, Mona, Sari

The team shown on the picture above got the opportunity to visit Berlin together. We all attend different fields of study, are different ages and are on different phases of our studies but we do have one thing in common: We all took German language classes in Karelia University of Applied Sciences. Our love for German language and our language teacher Kaija Sankila led to this unique trip to Berlin.

Also, was haben wir gemacht? 

What did we do? Where did we go? It was a busy week with a full schedule for pretty much every day. We visited some of the most famous tourist attractions of this enormous, charming city and each one of us got to present one of the attractions of our choice to the rest of our group. We also visited the University of Applied Sciences in Wildau twice to attend some lectures there and participate in their Oktoberfest.  In this post I will be focusing mainly on the attractions we visited and I will focus on our visits in Wildau and the educational purposes of our trip in my next text.

Hier kannst du einige Sehenswürdigkeiten sehen, die wir besichtigt haben.

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Das Olympiastadion

The gentlemen of our German student group, Joonas and Juho gave us a short but remarkable tour on the Olympic Stadium of Berlin. They explained the origins of the stadium, that it was originally built for the Summer Olympics of 1936, that nowadays has a permanent capacity of 74, 475 and is the largest stadium in Germany for international football matches. Olympiastadion is a UEFA category four stadium and one of the world’s most prestigious venues for sporting and entertainment events.

The building, especially on the outside, reminds of a prison or cemetery without causing actual negative emotions or impressions. The gigantic construction built in a dark era of German history leaves the viewer with a feeling of astonishment.

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Checkpoint Charlie

My personal favourite and Essi’s choice of sight to visit and present to us is the Checkpoint Charlie. Checkpoint C was a crossing point in the Berlin Wall located at the junction of Friedrichstraße with Zimmerstraße and Mauerstraße. It is in the Friedrichstadt neighbourhood. Checkpoint Charlie was designated as the single crossing point for foreigners and members of the Allied forces.

The name Charlie came from the letter C in the NATO phonetic alphabet. The Soviets simply called it the Friedrichstraße Crossing Point. The East Germans referred officially to Checkpoint Charlie as the Grenzübergangsstelle (”Border Crossing Point”) Friedrich-/Zimmerstraße.

Checkpoint Charlie is now a tourist attraction. Next to the guard house is a metal beam, at the end of which there is  an image of a Soviet soldier on the one side and on the opposite one an image of a US soldier.

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Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas

The Memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe was my attraction to present. The Holocaust Memorial  is a memorial in Berlin to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, designed by architect Peter Eisenman and engineer Buro Happold. It consists of a 19,000 m2 site covered with 2,711 concrete slabs, arranged in a grid pattern on a sloping field.

According to Eisenman’s project text, the slabs are designed to produce an uneasy, confusing atmosphere, and the whole sculpture aims to represent a supposedly ordered system that has lost touch with human reason. The Foundation Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe official English website states that the design represents a radical approach to the traditional concept of a memorial, partly because Eisenman said the number and design of the monument had no symbolic significance. However, the memorial’s resemblance to a cemetery is obvious.

Personally, I feel that when it comes to this specific site, pictures speak louder than words. The fact that we visited this Memorial when it was already dark, the colour of the sky and the clouds all contributed to the oppressive yet calming atmosphere of this grey concrete arrangement.

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East Side Gallery

Within a walking distance from our Hotel this international memorial for freedom with its 105 paintings could not possibly be forgotten to be mentioned.  East Side Gallery is a 1316 m long section of the Berlin Wall located near the centre of Berlin. Two-thirds of the paintings are badly damaged by vandalism and erosion. One-third have been restored by a non-profit organization which started their mission in 2000. This organization aims to eventually restore and preserve all the paintings. A work worth to be done, as East Side Gallery is possibly the largest and longest-lasting open air gallery in the world and its paintings express the hope for a better, freer world, a message that is always relevant.

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The Brandenburg Gate, the Museum of Tears , the Bundestag, Berlin’s Museumsinsel and Bellevue Palace are also among others exceptional attractions that we got to visit. Overall, this trip was a beautiful and educational cultural experience. We were introduced to German history, earned historical knowledge and information in an interesting way and approach that encourages actual learning. Es war sicher  ein unvergessliches Erlebnis!

-Magdalini