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Berlin, Germany’s largest city had much to offer us as first time visitors. Its rich and complex history paired with its rapid movement toward modernization made Berlin easy to love. With each day planned and packed with tours and activities there was never a dull moment, with virtually no time to miss home. 

We submersed ourselves into the German culture, we ate German food every day, and attempted to learn and speak German whenever we could. We greeted each other with phrases like “guten tag” and “guten morgen” and mastered the art of spending euros.

Every day was different. One day we went on a spectacular bike tour of Berlin which enabled us to see the city from the inside out. On the tour we saw parts of the remaining Berlin Wall, the Reichstag, the beautiful Brandenburg gate, and even Checkpoint Charlie. Another day we toured the Charlottenburg Palace. In it we were able to experience how Prussian royalty once lived. We were surrounded by opulence and grand decorations that awed us. 

Berlin, even in all its beauty, cannot be enjoyed fully without paying respect to the millions that were killed during the dark Nazi regime. The most memorable parts of this trip were visiting the memorial for murdered Jews and visiting the closed concentration camp near Berlin. The memorial for murdered Jews was mindblowing; entering it gave me a sense of unimportance and confusion. It was designed to pay tribute to those who lost their lives in the senseless genocides. I would recommend greatly that anyone visit it. The grim tour of the concentration camp that was once occupied by both the Nazis and Stalin was heart wrenching. As a group we felt honored to have been able to pay respect to those who had lost their lives in Europe.

If ever there was a word to describe the feeling of contentment, astonishment, and fulfillment it would be “Berlin.” While visiting Berlin, each of my senses were exercised in ways they had never been. From the sound of the German language and the smell of crisp beer seeping out of bar doorways into the street to vibrant street art and classic architecture, Berlin nestled into a space in my heart.