I realize I was there a month ago, but I want to talk about my trip to Berlin for a bit.

Because we were all in the same area, I went to Berlin with the other two exchange students, Ashley and Emily. They're not bad people, and I like them up to a certain point, but I'm not entirely fond of spending an extended period of time with them. Ashley a bit on the air-headed side; Emily is bossy, can get pretty bitchy, and likes backhanded, passive-aggressive comments; and they both come across as the "popular" type that likes to make people like me a pet project of sorts and really believes they're doing them a favor. I'm okay with them when they're not together (when they're together it just feels like they're ganging up on me) and if I'm only spending a couple hours with them. That said, I was initially glad they were going with me to Berlin because I'm not entirely comfortable walking around a strange city by myself - I probably would have (A) gotten lost, and (B) given up after seeing a couple things and gone back to the hostel to relax. I'm kinda lazy that way.

Berlin was fun, and for the most part the girls were enjoyable company. The part where they started to annoy me was when we were going to different museums on the "Late Night at the Museum" program. I wanted to see the museums that were related to World War II and the Cold War, specifically Haus am Checkpoint Charlie, the Jewish Museum, Topography of Terror, and the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. (I also wanted to go to the Gay Museum, but they immediately vetoed that. Sorry, but the link is in German.)

The first thing Emily asked me after I said that I wanted to visit these places was "Are you Jewish?" No, I'm not. "Then why do are you so interested in these museums?" Excuse me? I can't be interested in a specific period of history unless I'm connected to it in some way? I like history, and I've been interested in the Holocaust ever since my dad told me about Anne Frank (which was around third or fourth grade - hooray for morbid fascination at a young age, eh?). It's really no one's business why I'm interested, anyway - all I wanted to know was if they would go or not. In retrospect, I should have just split off from them and gone by myself.

We went to the museums at night. Now, I realize that we were trying to go through a lot of stuff in very little time, but when we got to the museums, I would read the plaques and look at the exhibits and try to absorb as much as I could, while they pretty much ran through the entire thing and dragged me away before I was even halfway through looking. I don't know about anyone else, but I'd rather take my time and see less museums, but get more information and a better understanding of the subject, than run to as many museums as possible just to say I was there. Hell, I already knew more about the Holocaust and the Cold War than they did! They could have stood to learn more about the history of the country they were visiting.

What really pissed me off, though, was the next day. I was already in a grumpy mood, because my feet were covered in blisters and I couldn't walk too fast. We visited the memorial, and after walking through it we sat down on one of the concrete blocks to talk about what we were going to do next. I would have preferred a bench, but getting those girls to move would have been like trying to teach a dog to talk. Anyway, I was drinking from my water bottle, and Ashley pulled out a little bottle of wine she'd bought and started to drink from that. A guard came up to us and told us politely that alcohol is banned on the memorial grounds, and asked Ashley to put the bottle away. When he walked away, Emily started asking why we couldn't drink there, and I told her "Well, people litter, and if people got drunk here there's a possibility they'd try to damage the memorial or something."

Cue her whining "We wouldn't do that, though!" I tried telling her that it doesn't matter if she wouldn't do it, because the guards don't know her from Adam and for all they know she would do just that. It didn't go over very well. I just gave up and let her pout about it, and all was well until Ashley decided they needed some funny pictures.

There's a tower in Berlin, the Fernsehturm ("television tower"), and it has a visitor platform that's circular and makes the tower look like someone stuck a kebab skewer through a silver golf ball. Ashley got the idea to do one of those pictures where, if you pose right, it looks like you're holding a person/tree/building/whatever in your hands. This required her and Emily to stand on one of the concrete blocks. She asked if I'd take the photos, and I told her very calmly that I didn't think it was very appropriate to take silly "I'm having so much fun, wee!" pictures at a Holocaust memorial. They couldn't seem to understand why I felt this way, even when I told them that it's incredibly disrespectful to treat a memorial, dedicated to millions of people who were tortured and murdered just because they didn't fit some lunatic's idea of the perfect human being, like a playground. (Speaking of which, I was also pretty appalled at the people who were climbing on the blocks and jumping from one to another. Do people not realize where they are?) They took the pictures themselves, and after that they were finally ready to go, but they were still acting like I was just a big party pooper.

I'm still kind of mad at how dismissive they were of the whole thing (on top of being pissed off that they rushed me through the stuff I wanted to see, and then got mad when I my feet hurt so bad that I was too slow to keep up and didn't want to go to some of the stuff they wanted to see, and the fact that they never actually waited for me - they just kept walking ahead until they were about a block ahead, which is a great way for us to get separated and for me to get lost, and Ashley had our subway and train ticket so we really couldn't afford to get separated), but at least we didn't have the opportunity to visit a concentration camp. If they'd tried to pull that kind of stunt there I think I would have hit them. I'm so glad I was by myself in Munich - though I'm curious as to what my Dachau tour guide would have done to them.
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amadeupname: (hyd rain)
( Aug. 25th, 2008 02:56 pm)
I want to come home.

Bettina, the German IFYE chapter secretary called the other day, and said that I need to try harder to be part of the family, because the other families said that they enjoyed the time with me, but I spent a lot of time alone in my room. I don't know if they told her that I always asked if there was something they wanted me to do - helping out around the house or farm or whatever - and that I even said that sometimes I like to spend time alone, but that if they wanted me to do something I wouldn't have a problem with it. It's not like they were banging down my door begging me to come do stuff with them and I was refusing. Most of the time I was alone while the kids were busy at school or with friends, and when the family DID get together it was for meals and sometimes watching TV.

Maybe this IFYE thing was just a bad idea.

My free time's coming up in a week and a half. I wish I could just go home for the two weeks and then come back. Maybe then I wouldn't be so damn homesick. Right now I can't seem to stop thinking about Nick and school and my mom, and I don't know how to get my mind off of home. Hell, Bettina said that if it was really bad she could probably arrange for me to come home early - and I can't say I'm opposed to the idea - but I should stick this thing out to the end, shouldn't I? I mean, I may just be miserable by that end, but it's not like there's a huge hurry for me to come home. At this point it's too late to sign up for classes, so I'd be spending the time at home, looking for a job. And if I can't make it through six months of being away from home, what am I going to do when I graduate? I was planning on going for the JET program, like Darcy, but if I go home after three months then what's the point of even thinking of being gone for a year? Plus, I haven't been practicing my German as much as I should have (but then it's really fucking hard to try when everyone around you speaks at light speed and makes you feel like you're in the very first class again), and that was the entire point of me coming here.

I still just want to come home.
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