Back to SummaryCrystal O'Grady - Student Advisor Profile
“Berlin ist arm, aber sexy,” (Klaus Wowereit, 2004). Translated into English, this phrase is “Berlin is poor, but sexy” and it entices you. The city itself is covered in provocative and not-so-provocative street art, but still maintains a chic and intellectually invigorating environment. When I had first applied to the Berlin Program, this aspect of Berlin wasn’t apparent to me and I over-looked it. My initial inclination to go to Germany was fueled by a desire to encounter and engage in a culture that birthed extremely influential minds in sociology and psychology, namely Max Weber and Sigmund Freud, while exploring the ins and outs of the European social welfare system. What I found in my time in Berlin was an extraordinary process that allowed Berlin’s ‘poor but sexy’ ambience to stimulate intellectual and personal growth.
At first, Berlin was intimidating because I only had a quarter of German beforehand. However, total immersion in the language really helped with picking up the language fast, especially when it comes to ordering food. I will never forget the first week I was there and mistakenly asked for juice on my Döner instead of sauce. Embarrassment may not be the most comfortable way to learn a language, but it is one of the most effective.
Furthermore, Berlin has such a unique history that is easily accessible through monuments and museums. On a tour of Potsdam, our group casually strolled past the place where Albert Einstein resided. The next day, I visited a permanent Salvador Dali exhibit in he heart of the city. Each day you can decide what you are in the mood to learn about or experience, and find a place in the city that suits your whim.
After my study abroad experience, I participated in the Krupp Internship Program and interned at Stadtoase in Neukölln. While I was interning there, I gained a lot of knowledge about the German Welfare System, Immigration issues, and racial tensions that exist in Germany. I gained hands-on experience in my fields of interest and had the chance to experience Berlin and Germany in ways that many people don’t.
Consequently, I formed many friendships and deep intellectual connections in Berlin. I will never forget the quirky East German humor of my friends there, the long nights spent sitting on the Spree drinking Kirschsaft, the long silent rides on the U-Bahn in the morning, or watching a play in the Brecht theater. Berlin has something for everyone, but sometimes it takes some effort to find it.