Throughout the month of July I’ve taken over 1,000 pictures during my stay, capturing small things such as the traditional food we ate to pivotal moments like the World Cup finals at Brandenburg gate. You COULD say I have a very well captured collection of the trip; shooting anything, no matter how absurd or how uncomfortable my photo-taking position was.
However, although I might have a SEA of high quality DSLR photographs, three genuinely caught my eye. The three above represent my growth as an individual while in Berlin: independence, togetherness and maturity.
Before I begin, I realize that I’ve thanked you all so much not only for the memories we’ve made but also for letting me capture every moment I’ve ever had with you all on camera; so as the program’s featured blogger, I decided to create a google drive folder filled with pictures taken during our stay in Berlin.
Danke dir sehr. Enjoy!
Picture I, Independence
The Brandenburg Tor: This photograph is one of my favorites, not only because of its aesthetics, but also because it represents my beginning week as an independent student in Germany. On this day, I recall our amazing tour guide, Alexander, who helped bring both history and colorful attractions to life. The experience consisted of trips to holocaust memorials, modern government edifices as well as lavish chocolate shops.
In the picture, I feel as if all five senses are “heightened," making my first week experience as memorable as if I were reliving history.
- From my perspective I see the powerful US, French and British Embassies all surrounding the gate.
- I hear the voices of German activists protesting the Russian government in broad daylight, throwing both banners and their voices in the air as if expressing their opinions in the most dramatic way possible.
- I smell the the strong Currywurst (curry hot dog sausage) stands miles away from the gate.
- I can remember the after-taste of the German dark chocolate I would always eat; bitter but so refined.
- Given that it was my first time in Berlin, the vision of the 85 foot Brandenburg gate gave me the feeling of a new beginning; the sensation of real independence for the first time.
Picture II, Togetherness
Tiergarten: When looking at this picture, I always feel nostalgic; not because the park full of nude men was vivid enough for me to remember for decades, but because the people in this photo are just a small portion of the students I had deep-rooted and interpersonal connections with. I remember the long bus ride to the Tiergarten, the “golden hour” sun time, the music we listened and especially, the laughs we’ve had. The feeling of moist green grass touching our backs as we watched German couples laugh while also hearing the sound of what felt like a thousand birds in the sky felt existential and almost dream-like. These sensations would conjunct with the odor and taste of crisp, bubbly mezzo mix soda (orange & fanta combo) on our lips while chaotic peace roamed around the park, giving us a feeling of friendship and beauty. Although this experience was merely an afternoon, it felt like a turning point in my trip.
Thank you for this wonderful memory as well as many more like this.
Picture III, Maturity
Learning from our opportunities: When I first took this picture, I didn’t really think much of it. It was basically an informal goodbye session to the first startup founder we met, a simple man who owned a bike shop in Berlin and based his rentals off an honor code - meaning, pay whenever you can afford to return the bike. After scrolling through my photo library, my recounts with local entrepreneurs as well as the meaning behind this one became clearer and clearer. His goodbyes to me didn’t necessarily mean “goodbye.” Once he left, that meant we would meet up with another entrepreneur, and another entrepreneur, and the cycle just continued like this for days. The point being, his goodbye did not symbolize a “goodbye” we would have to take to heart; this is because in a few minutes he would just be replaced with another person and another memory. I feel as if the July heat along with the humbled “thank yous” in the crowd and the shadows of the man disappearing down the street in the photo added an emphasis towards our reactions when we say goodbye. When all of us left on a plane for Berlin, leaving our homes and our loved ones, we at some point needed to say goodbye and become mature enough to go on this adventure alone. Although this picture does not symbolize our departures from our origins, it does represent the “goodbyes” we made for those back at home and symbolizes the “greetings’' we embraced towards a new life we would build as students at the G27 Berlin institute.
My personal reflection:
Essentially, I felt as if the program was both surprising and expected in their own special ways. For example, I expected a rigorous 12-hour-a day program followed by tedious projects and homework. Ironically, I was met with shorter classes, longer discussions, and more well-thought out experiences with local startups and personal group projects. Because of this, I felt like my time in Berlin was better appreciated in class because of the numerous experiences I had outside of the institute. I appreciated my time at G27 in a special but unexpected way.
If it makes sense, I feel as if my progression as a student remained quite stagnant; however, my growth as an individual skyrocketed further than appropriate words could explain. As a student in Berlin, I was faced with interesting obstacles, those including creating my own startup, using the limited German I had in a city where English was not the dominant language and being an active thinker during my time with the startup founder meets.
As a person, I learned so much more than what I experienced. I learned that no matter how far you fly or how isolated you become, you realize that YOU matter: your aspirations, your thoughts and your feelings. You learn that some people are not what they seem, good and bad. You realize how motivated some of us really are and how that takes us much farther than anyone else who doesn’t “care.” Being in Berlin, I felt like self-discovery was bigger than any of us could imagine. Being somewhat "on your own" made me think how far we as high schoolers have come, and how we need to appreciate that.
I made many friends during my stay; I can’t tell you how many times I would leave my dorm room open simply for someone to pop their head in and start a conversation or suggest an afternoon out.
I hate to single anyone out, so I won’t when it comes to the best friends I made. What I can say is that every moment I’ve ever spent with any of you was cherished, no matter how irrelevant or how small. I will remember you all.
The impression Germany had on me stayed the same throughout the whole trip: a country so technologically and socially advanced, culturally diverse and accepting. I think that says a lot coming from someone who’s lived in Tokyo and the United States most of their life. I wholeheartedly enjoyed the Global Entrepreneurship program in Berlin. I believe that the “global” aspect of the name really backed itself up in regards to the people I met and the places I visited.
If I could sum up my trip in one word, I would say "Gneisenaustraße," the first German word I learned. Gneisenaustraße is a station on the U7 U-Bahn in Berlin, Germany. No matter where we went, what we did, or who we went with, Gneisenaustraße was the connection point we as students had (besides the institute).
Thank you to everyone again. I’m glad some of you took your time to read my journey!