As I get older (which feels ironic at 21), the importance of expressing gratitude is made clearer and clearer to me. In that spirit, looking back at my two months in Germany, I’m struck by all the awesome stuff I got to experience. I visited Dresden, Prague, Cologne, Düsseldorf (unfortunately), Wroclaw, and Copenhagen. Besides that, I was living in Berlin, and Berlin is pretty awesome, not going to lie. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to travel, and even though my experience was different than I expected, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. On the topic of travel, I just have to mention Prague. Every street corner looks like a fairy tale, the Prague Castle complex is probably my single favorite landmark in Europe. It’s a bit crowded, but it deserves every bit of the attention it gets. Prague also has (in English) Chimney Cakes – delightful baked treats that can be slathered in Nutella to become even better.
But Prague doesn’t have a monopoly on cool things – The Cologne Cathedral is awe inspiring. The imposing verticality, the mixture of monolithic permanence and spiritual elegance, is a sight to behold. I got to see a quartet perform Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. They were frankly fantastic – it’s probably the most fun I’ve had a concert. And on the topic of music, I have to mention a street performer in Dresden who did acoustic covers of classic rock songs; I could’ve listened to him all night. I saw some incredible modern art at K20 in Düsseldorf – Edvard Munch and Pablo Picasso are incredible artists; it’s not just a question of form, they have an incredible ability to communicate torment, joy, confusion using a only few brushstrokes. But on the topic of art, I also found my new favorite artist at the Statens Museum for Kunst in Denmark. Anna Ancher is a Skagen artist, and her work, in perhaps a wild understatement, made me feel things. Her works are beautiful, emotive, (in a word) human. However, I’d say the single artistic highlight of my time in Berlin was a Jan Van Eyck at the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin – he’s just an astonishing artist.
I didn’t just get to see lots of awesome art, there’s also great coffee everywhere; and I certainly had plenty of it. This one coffee shop in Copenhagen had an awesome espresso blend that had strong, clear notes of strawberry; I think it might be my favorite cup of the trip. I had some fantastic breakfasts in Poland, great pizza in Prague (of all places), an awesome hamburger in Dresden, and my favorite donuts of all time that also happen to vegan in Berlin. You could say that food was an important part of my experience.
I’m grateful for the experience to intern at the State Department – I didn’t have any experience in an office environment before, and I hadn’t even interned anywhere previously either. It was a great first experience. I got experience on working eight-hour days (that’s not a nothing experience), reporting on a whole range of topics, and engaging with another governmental system. Even though my time there got cut short, I wouldn’t trade that experience for a semester at university.
Just like before, I’m ready to go back to Europe. See more things, eat good food, drink great coffee, and see some incredible history. I’m grateful for the time that I had, and I’ll always remember that on this trip to Europe, I didn’t just get to see historical sites: I saw history in the making.