Monday, April 16, 2012

Schoolreis 2012

So I just recently got back from a school trip to Berlin, Dresden and Prague. In our school, we everybody in all of the levels has a chance to go on one of these school trips. They're supposed to be "learning trips" that are tied in with school subjects. Ours was mostly tied in with History and German, and even then, not much German was spoken by the students. This is our whole group in Prague on the last full day. I only
knew one person going into the trip, but I ended up staying in rooms with a group of really nice girls. So it was a bus trip, and the first night we spent in the bus... being woken up every two hours saying we were stopping and taking a break... But then we arrived in Berlin the next morning and went to the Hostel, ate breakfast and went back outside. It was a really cold day, but we were scheduled to go on a bike tour through Berlin. I think this
was a nice way to see the whole city since it's so huge. Luckily our tour guide spoke Dutch, so the tour wasn't completely in German like some of the other tours were throughout the week. This is a picture of the Memorial to the Berlin Wall, the kids are looking through the cracks in the wall, because that's all the people back then could see too. We would stop every now and then on the tour, and our guide would give us history and it was a really interesting tour. Even though it was really really cold haha. We got to see all the big monuments in Berlin and the buildings are really nice there. As a whole though, I found Berlin to be a dirty city. There is graffiti everywhere and there are still bullet holes in buildings. Some with many bullet holes. We also got to see the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, which is a huge area
with all these different sizes of concrete slabs on a sloping field. So it goes in no specific pattern or anything, the blocks are just sloping around the field, some points are deeper than others. If you look really closely you can see people standing in one of the lower points. After the bike tour we went on a boat tour through the Centrum. It was only an hour long. But I have to say, not that many people stayed awake during it! Haha. We were all so tired from the night before in the bus, because it's really hard to sleep when they wake you up every two hours... Then we finally got to go to our rooms and change after a long day. It was nice to finally get to talk to the girls too. They were all really nice, and REALLY REALLY surprised when they found out I was American. They noticed my accent a little bit, but I don't know if they would have figured it out by themselves.
But they made the trip really fun. Then we all left for dinner, and later that night we went bowling all together, in East Berlin. It was upstairs which I found really funny, on the tenth floor of a building, the top floor! haha. But it was really fun with all of the girls and everybody. This is the Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate), which is probably the most famous land mark of Berlin and Germany.
Now all of the Embassies and government things are on the side you're looking at in the photo. Now these are little memorials, or Holocaust plaques. (Stolpersteine in German) You can't read them in the photo, but on the plaque they say the victim's name, the date he or she was taken away, and the date and place they were murdered, it does in fact say murdered, not 'killed'. They sit outside of the victims homes, so
you see them sometimes when you're walking. Not all of the plaques say they were murdered in Auschwitz, these ones say Riga and Lodz. But one that I took a picture of was a couple murdered in Auschwitz. You can google it if you want to, there's a really nice New York times article about it. So then the next day, after a nice night's sleep, we went on a U en S bahn tour. which was supposed to be us visiting different places on
the tracks and figuring things out, but we just went around walking and shopping which lots of other people did too haha. Then after that we got back in the bus and headed towards Dresden. To see a VW factory! Here is the factory! It's a special factory though, where the clients choose everything they want customized. So its piece per piece production, rather than mass production. The bodies of the cars are sent here, then the people
working on the cars install all the cables (over 3 km or something(maybe 5) like that in one car!!) and then the robots with the engines and everything too. It was really cool to see, I didn't think it would be that interesting honestly, but I thought it was really awesome haha. Then the next day we walked around on another sort, scavenger hunt, in Dresden. It was a nice sunny day this time, and we had yet another paper of questions
to fill out. The strategy we had the first time was to sit down and drink something warm, and ask the people who worked there questions. I'm sure the girls were glad to have me for my English then! haha One of the things we had to do was count the horses on this wall mosaic here. So some of the things we had to do ourselves, but some of the things we were supposed to ask people. And then we still had lots of time for
shopping! haha. Then after that we went to a sort of concentration camp. I say sort of because it was more used as a holding pen for before they were sent off to Auschwitz. It was an old fort and barracks from a war before the world wars, but then the Germans occupied it during the war.
After the tour of the camp, with a lady who spoke not understandable German (none of the kids understood it) we left for Prague. If you listen to German very very closely, it sort of sounds the same as Dutch. Some of the words are the same, so if you pay attention you learn a lot. But please don't ask me to speak German, that's not gonna happen haha. So then we were at our last full day in Prague. It was raining the most of the day, but luckily we had had better
weather the whole week than they said we were going to. I found Prague to be a really nice city, much cleaner than Berlin. We did a whole lot of walking here in the rain, but it was a nice relaxed last day. The teachers on the school trip are much more relaxed then ours. We were basically allowed to wander around these three huge cities all by ourselves, armed with a supplied map of where we needed to end up at the end of the
time. So that's alot different than well, the China trip I went on with school haha. This is the group of girls I was with for the week. So yeah, that was the trip in a nutshell! haha. Was interesting to see how a school trip was like in another land, don't think I'll have a chance to do that in my life ever again haha!

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