We’re going waaaay back. Back to a time when I was uncertain what my future would have in store. It was a dark time of introspection (and outrospection). I’m taking you back to March 2016.
When I first considered applying to graduate school in London, I did an ample amount of research (as you do) into my options. Beyond the universities and degree programmes, I read individual class descriptions to see if the offerings of the individual uni’s fit my idea of what I wanted my Master’s degree to contain.
One thing that drew me towards Birkbeck was an offering called Film Festivals which included a mandatory trip to Berlin, Germany to attend the Berlinale International Film Festival. When I was eventually accepted at Birkbeck and was faced with the prospect of choosing my classes, I realized that this was a trip that would actually happen and I was at a bit of a loss.
As a Jew, visiting Germany was something I’d never previously considered. My grandmother was in recovery after surgery and I went to visit shortly before my departure. As I sat there and talked about my upcoming move, Rick Steves’ Europe was on in the background. I looked up and began paying attention when he mentioned Berlin.
My grandmother and I had a discussion about the implications of Jews traveling to Germany, in which she confided that she’d never been nor had any real interest in going; she likely never would go. I think I made the decision then and there that this was a journey I was determined to make.
Long story short: I signed up for the class, moved to London, and bought my February plane ticket to Berlin in November.
I ended up rooming with three other girls in my Film Festivals class in an interesting airbnb off Leipzigerstrasse that was the official apartment for the World Chess-Boxing League.
I’m not even kidding, I slept under a Bobby Fisher quote. It was awesome.
The first full day in Berlin, the four of us went to get our accreditation badges for Berlinale.
Afterwards, we decided to participate in a little bit of touristing (as you do…)
After a solid day of walking the entire city, we settled in and made dinner.
Look at those bright, shining faces. Little did we know that was the last full night of sleep for a good, long while.
Festival: Daaaaay 1
That would be a panoramic photo of the line for student accreditation tickets. I became intimately familiar with this line throughout the festival, as we had to wait in it every. single. day.
Most people began lining up at 5:30 for the ticket office which opened at 8:30am. On the first day, I made the mistake of showing up at 8:30. Three hours later, we left the line, tickets in hand, for showings on the following day.
I’ll spare you the gory details, but what essentially followed was 10 days of averaging 4 hours of sleep, 4 films a day, and an awful lot of walking.
Eventually, I gave myself a day off, as there weren’t any films I wanted to see that day. I wound up meandering the city a bit (and going to the Berlin Public Transportation Office to contest a fine I’d received on the subway. It was resolved. That’s all you need to know. >_>)
On the final few days of the festival, as everyone was quite exhausted, the pictures died down a bit.
All in all, Berlin was an interesting experience. Not only did I get to tour the city hardcore for two days, but I spent 12 days living there and experiencing Berlinale. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the opportunity to get out of the city, and there are still four other cities in Germany that I’d like to see, but I had a good time.
Berlin is a city that feels seeped in the past. It doesn’t matter where you go in the city, you are always just around the corner from a monument or memorial of some kind. While culturally fascinating, that emotional weight can also be quite taxing from a tourism standpoint.
- Charlotte and Zita arrive!!!
- 2.5 days in London
- 3 days in Paris
- 1 day at Versailles
- 4 days in Dubrovnik
- Mom and Scott arrive!!!
- 1.5 days in London
- 3 days in Edinburgh
- 3 days in Amsterdam
And then a distinct lack of travel because I’ll be working 32 unpaid hours a week at my new work placement with the BFI.
Catch you on the flip side!