On the early hours of 8th July, 31 students gathered at Etone College to set off for three days packed with culture, history and experiences that we definitely won’t forget. After six long and exhausting hours, we safely arrived in Berlin, dropped off our bags and were ready to start the day of exploring the city. We were soon navigating the streets and the complicated transport systems, mainly thanks to Mr Hope, our own personal tour guide.
Our first stop was Checkpoint Charlie, a significant part of Berlin’s history as it acted as a secure passing during the division of the city following the start of the Cold War. After a short break for lunch, we guided our way past the glorious Berlin Cathedral, we made our way to the DDR Museum which painted a clear image of life in East Berlin under Soviet control. We were shocked to discover the appalling quality of life of the citizens, their lack of freedom and the power that Soviet’s had over them, which amplified our understanding of the tensions during the 1960s. We finished our day with a thrilling trip to the iconic TV Tower, from which the views of the city stretched before us, we were able to locate popular landmarks from the Reichstag Dome to the Brandenburg Gate – some were even able to find an infamous Soviet Spy base which had a peculiar shape.
After a well-earned rest, we were able to start our next day, first stop: the Berlin Wall. We were given a thorough tour of the remains of the wall, our guide detailed the devastating events that happened after the wall was built in 1961 and how lives were impacted by the tensions that occurred between the East and West. We were told the tragic stories of people who were directly impacted as they tried to escape the terrors of East Berlin, and the news that the youngest victim of this horror was just six years old was horrifying to us. We continued by visiting the Topography of Terror and were intrigued by the reality of Nazi control and the measures they took to protect their ideology.
We finished sightseeing on a lighter note, by visiting the Olympiastadion, an important part of Germany’s history as it was used as propaganda for Nazi Germany but also how in recent years the stadium hasn’t been used to fuel an ideology but instead has become a vital part of Germany’s society. After a short stop at the hotel, we set out for bowling, which was a compelling and rewarding finish to the day.
After days of sightseeing, socialising and tasting the most popular dishes of
Germany – including the currywurst which was highly recommended by Mr Hope. Moreover, we were eager to spot all the different colourful bears dotted around Berlin, which totalled to fourteen bears! We also gathered bags full plastic bottles as we learnt about the eco-friendly approach to recycling in Berlin and we earnt over €7! Early Thursday morning we set off back for England, a calm and quiet journey as 31students were ready to return to the comfort of their own homes.
Although we were exhausted, this experience has been an enriching and memorable experience and we’re all very thankful for this opportunity.