King’s Study in Berlin: Rachel and Ethan

My favorite part of studying abroad was
how much you can learn in a short period of time from experience alone. We read a
lot of books here and learn a lot of critical theory but there’s nothing
really like being able to walk down the street and look at a monument and learn
from experience. There’s nothing like it in terms of getting a cohesive view of a
period of history or of an idea itself. My favorite part about the Berlin course
was the group. We had about 25 students and our best teacher ever Sarah Clift
and we all lived in a hostel together and we went to school together every day
and some of us took side trips over the weekends and it was a community
learning experience. It wasn’t just individually reading books or going to
class. We learned together as a group and supported each other through that and
were able to add to each other’s experiences by virtue of being part of
the experience itself. I really liked being able to, in some of our down time, sort of wander around the city and kind of allow yourself to get lost and just kind of lose yourself by way of saying, “okay well maybe I’ll just turn down this street.” And then finding something you wouldn’t expect and then just kind of, you know all of a sudden two
hours have passed and you haven’t even realized it. You’re just sort of continuously wandering and purposefully getting lost I suppose. Which was a lot of fun, I think. Learning something abstract in the classroom and then actually just going
out you know and just walking to that monument or that sight that we were
just talking about, you know in a removed context and all of a sudden it’s it’s real right in front of you. And I think also sort of what followed from the course, once I left what I learned – I can’t look at buildings the same way anymore. Every time I look at an old grand piece of
architecture, where I used to be like, wow that’s so beautiful, now my enjoyment of
things like that is much more complex and frustrating in many ways. Yeah and a lot of the time specific narratives or pieces of film
and literature, but architecture mostly and monuments and public memorials – now I will stop every time and stare at it and be like, “what does this mean specifically?” and usually come up with no coherent answer, as usual.

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