Week 01: May 30 – June 2
So I’ve made it in. That crawling nervousness of getting into Germany has finally left my body. When my friends and I got to the passport control of Germany I remember being the last of the four of us to approach one of the desks. I could feel my passport dig into my hand from how nervous I was to approach. I knew there was nothing to be nervous about. I have my valid visa. I have my valid paperwork. I have nothing to be nervous about yet here I was completely terrified.
I approach the desk. The only thing separating me from my friends is a metal bar. I can literally see them across the way picking up the luggage from baggage claim as I slide my passport to the person behind the glass.
Ah Philippines they speak Spanish there.
Ah no we speak tagalog
oh but… some speak Spanish.
Yes. Yes that’s how this interrogation starts. I don’t argue. I don’t bother too. I’m too afraid I’ll upset the passport control person and they’ll deny me passage.
Why are you in Germany?
I’m studying Landscape Architecture with Rutgers University.
Do you have proof?
I pull out the paperwork I got from the Rutgers Study Abroad office. Shoutout to those awesome people who gave me every piece of legal paperwork I needed to get through!! He examines the page confirming that I only plan on studying here in Germany before continuing…
Did you travel alone.
No I traveled with three of my frie-
Because you know- young women- especially young Asian women tend to travel here alone and they do not leave so….
I reaffirm my disapproval
No- I traveled here with my three friends.
Where are they?
They are already across. I shift and look at my friends nervously waiting for my by baggage claim
They’re American citizens! I add because it felt appropriate to mention
Oh American citizens!! He stamps my passport and pushes it back. Enjoy Germany!!
I grab my passport and push past the metal bar. I hobble to my friends and they ask why it took so long… I thank them. For being my friends and American citizens because god knows how that would have gone without them.
It was shocking for sure. And it was not as bad as it seems. Yes his questions were somewhat offensive but it’s part of his job to questions these things. It’s a cultural thing I like to thing.
It helps cope with how oddly my experiance went at least.
Asides from that!! Once through we were immediately thrusted into Berlin and it’s transit system!!
An immediate thing I notice about Germany- specifically Berlin – is how easy transit is here! Instead of having separate tickets for the bus, train, and subway. You can get one general month ticket for ~80 Euros – which blew my mind when my professor handed me the ticket. I take NJtransit in order to get around and let me tell you it is a pain in the butt to get places. Train tickets from my home town to just about anywhere is $14 one way. Buses never show up on time or never show up at all! And you need a separate ticket for everything!! We can use our ticket to get about anywhere in Berlin thanks to how developed their system is. They have at least one sort of transportation available on major and minor routes and roads. As of now, that is the dreamiest part of Germany.
As a part of my program we have to fill our sketchbook with drawings, diagrams, sections, and notes of our journey throughout Germany. This fountain took my breath away. Stationed in front of a historically famous building in Berlin, there were steps that invited people inside the fountain! The steps and textures of the rocks offered a new form of playing. Seeing people enjoy the water in the insanely hot Berlin weather was so refreshing.
We walk around and give talks about the different sites we visit. One of my favorites, potsdamer platz water retention system, is completely powered by rainwater that is collected from surrounding buildings! With the use of weirs and plantings the water is filtered naturally and later returned for human use (such as pools, and toilets).
A part of our assignment is to draw street sections and analyze what makes that street work. I did the most cliche thing ever and sat outside with a cup of coffee and drew. Sitting and people watching can never get boring.