The experience of studying abroad is different for each student. We love to see how they gradually identify with the city, especially in Berlin, which is the capital of Germany and overflows with a diversity of things to do and enjoy.
This is why we interviewed Rachel Fischler, 21 years old student from Connecticut. She joined our Open Campus Spring 23 program and will living in Berlin from January till May. Since her arrival, she has been able to discover the city and do one of the activities she enjoys the most in her life: running. Nowadays, she has a big goal: run in one of the most important races of the world, the Berlin Half Marathon on April, 2023.
- What do you study and where?
I study at Gettysburg College, and am double majoring in Public Policy with a concentration in social justice policy, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. I am minoring in Peace and Justice Studies. At Gettysburg, I run on the Cross Country and Track and Field teams. Running on this team has been the greatest gift in life.
- How long are you staying in Berlin? How has been your experience so far?
I arrived in January and am leaving in May. I have been trying to soak up Berlin everyday! This city and country is such a vibrant and beautiful place with so many cultures! Berlin has so much to explore! I wish I could stay here forever!
- How long have you been running and what is the thing that you most like about it?
I started running a little bit with my Mom one summer before Junior year. Maybe 2 miles on the track one or twice a week. I had always wanted to run but never had because I didn't think that I was a "runner", or could be a "runner". My sister convinced me to join cross country. I was so nervous I almost didn't go to the first practice! Luckily I found the courage and it set in motion my life as I now know it. It didn't come naturally and even though I worked so hard I usually finished last in races. I was so happy though! I tried my very hardest and found a passion I never knew before, I realized this was what I was always meant to do and running has been there for me ever since to help me through struggles and bring me unimaginable joys.
- Have you been running in Berlin? Where? and How it has been?
I have been running a lot in Berlin, just in this last week I hit 50 miles! There was a little learning curve with some things, like finding an unlocked track, but otherwise I loved running as a tool to explore the city! My favourite spots are Tempelhofer Feld, Tiergarten, Brandenburg Gate down Unter den Linden, Hasenheide Park, the track at Rittenburg, along the canal, and Treptower Park. I also love running at the free timed 5k at Hasenheide Park every Saturday at 9am! At the Parkrun everyone is so warm and welcoming! I met a ton of locals who invited me to local running groups. Everyone also goes to a cafe together after the race! I miss running with my team.
- Best tip for runners in Berlin and in our CIEE community?
Look up cool places to run online! That is how I got like 99% of the knowledge I now use everyday. Berlin also has an amazing running community! That how I ended up signing up for the Berlin half marathon.
- Do you have a motivational phrase you would like to share with us?
“There is something magical about running; after a certain distance, it transcends the body. Then a bit further, it transcends the mind. A bit further yet, and what you have before you, laid bare, is the soul.” -K. Armstrong
I love this quote, because it brings the essence of what running means: it's something special. It brings you to a different place, a place where you experience and see the world different differently than you otherwise would have. You realize what matters and notice things you don't normally see or feel beyond and within yourself. When I run, it makes me feel truly alive, and that is the most important thing—to be in touch with our own existence so we can strive to live life fully and beautifully as it is meant to.