Saturday, May 24, 2014

Outdoor Library

So there we were. Our class was on a walking photography tour of Berlin and we come unto a clearing among the buildings. And lo, before us, in a crack of this bustling city stood an outdoor library filled with people taking a pause from their busy lives to simply read a book.

Now if you're not sure what an outdoor library consists of, have no fear; pictures are provided. But it truly is what it may sound like it is. A couple constructs of book shelfs and many, many comfy cushion chairs organized in a haphazard fashion.

There was no pattern to who was reading in the library. The ages ranged from children to retirees. All races we represented. Truly the only pattern to be found in the crowd was that everyone there found a hole in their day and were able to fill it by reading a book.

Now, I'm not sure there's a huge moral to this story. It not a cultural parallel or a deeper look into a monument or a social commentary. I just think that reading a good book in a beautiful city is pretty neat.

Berlin in Living Pictures

One of the most striking things about Germany is the absolute beauty of everything. Because of it’s much longer history, the country has architecture that is incredibly aged and beautifully radiant. Coming from the United States, it’s hard to imagine how truly storied this country is; fantastic buildings and welcoming cobblestone line every street.

To illustrate how visually awe-inspiring this country is, I created a bit of a living slideshow of Berlin. The idea is that this will give an even better idea of the atmosphere than still pictures will. The rhythm and movement of the city is part of what sets it apart from life in the States. Perhaps seeing the city as it lackadaisically piddles through everyday life will further show exactly how it feels to be in a city where eating lunch is an hour plus ordeal.

Please note that I focus on Berlin in this video, but the exquisite beauty seen here is echoed throughout the county. I was similarly awe-struck with Köln, Bonn, and Eisenach. The houses all seem unknowingly connected, with most hatted with the customary slanted roof and large, pronounced, slotted tile rows.

Part of me is glad I get to be a visitor to this place because I know I’ll never fail to appreciate the beauty around me. To be thrust into a world with such a swallowing scenery is an amazing feeling, as your senses are able to grab onto all the splendor around you. To be in such a captivating world is truly a treat, and I’m thankful for that experience. Hopefully this project helped to illustrate what I mean.

Life Goes On...

One of the saddest points in the trip came when we were in Bonn. One of the HBRS students asked us what we knew about German history. After a moment of silence, one of the Wartburg students finally admitted that it was mostly related to WWII, and that outside of that it still pertains to either WWI or the Cold War era. The disappointment felt by the German student could be felt radiating off her face; she was ashamed of what her country had done, and desperately wished it could be known for more.

That really struck a chord with me. The charred remains of Nazism and Communism was smeared on the streets of Berlin, but I never realized how deeply it stained the hearts of the German people. I hadn't stopped to wonder how horrifying it must be to face that truth. To know that the very land you stood on and the country you call home was such a wicked and evil entity. While Americans look fondly upon the 20th century, with apple pie, baseball and the preservation of democracy, Germans must directly face the shame from that same period.

But, as always, this is only a piece of the story. While it seems that facing the truths from the past may be a difficult process, it makes way for a brighter future. Nothing can be done for what lay behind, but the German people are earnestly trying to burst forward into a new era of prosperity and mirth. Regardless of what has been done, life goes on, simply because life has to go on.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Taste of a Culture

When you go abroad it is obvious that you need to try different foods. In Berlin we had the opportunity to try everything from schnitzel to sushi.

One night we went to this amazing India restaurant that Travis and Penni had discovered earlier in the day. While having dinner at Mirchi, we noticed how much we liked the food, atmosphere, and the people. 

Mirchi was one of the most individualistic restaurants that we've ever been too and we wanted to showcase that by doing our project on them. So we got pictures and an interview and put it all together. 

We chose the pictures that we believed really showed what the restaurant had to offer. If you ever get the chance to experience this restaurant, we hope you enjoy it as much as we did. 

Below is the url to our video. Hope you enjoy!

-Amanda and Ryan

The Wartburg Napkin

The Wartburg Napkin

Well here it is, the final stretch of the trip. Seeing Eisenach and the Wartburg castle was what I was looking forward to the entire trip. And what a beautiful sight it was.

I'm so glad our college's roots are dug deep into the history of Germany. I feel so fortunate to have walked the same path Martian Luther and Saint Elizabeth. Without these two individuals life would be so much different.
At the top of the castle's tower it was so peaceful. Looking out into Esinach's forests gave me an opporitunity to be thankful to have found such a great college. The breathtaking view was an opporitunity I could never pass up. It was so quiet and calm. I remember thinking how big and old the world is. I was thinking of everyone at home back in Iowa and it was very cool to think of how far we have come on the trip. I also thought of my faith and how powerful God is to make a world as large and as beautiful as this. The view reminded me of something I would imagine while reading a book. It was unreal. 

And to answer your question, of coarse I brought a Wartburg Mensa napkin! Just before the trip I remembered to stuff about 20 of these in my luggage. Worth it. I noticed the picture on the napkin was a little out of place but then learned that the napkin's picture was hand drawn. Mission accomplished. 

I would also like to congratulate the wartbug choir on an amazing performance. What an opporitunity to bring the two sister cities together. I'm very proud of our wartburg choir. They had such a moving performance that they made multiple audience members tear up. 

Until next time Germany! 
Auf Wiedersehen!

Back Home

We are back in Iowa and although I am probably the same as about every other single college senior in that I am usually tired all the time, it has been difficult to get used to the time change!  Iowa is about seven hours behind what we were in Germany.

One of the biggest differences from Germany to Iowa was the use of everyone's cell phones.  We were not able to use our phones besides in the evenings when we would have Wi-Fi at the hotel where we were staying.  It did make things difficult at times when we would need to communicate with another group but were not able to, which meant we had to plan ahead carefully.  However, everyone was able to talk to each other instead of looking at their phones during the day.  I realized how much I rely on my phone and how much I use it when I was not able to use it in Germany.  We were able to see so many things and experience it with each other, in real time and not through the screen of an electronic device.

We were able to use our phones though when we got back to the United States of course, which was nice because we had a flight that got cancelled.  We only had to stay for about 8 hours at the airport but it felt like a very long time.  We got to fly back to Des Moines from Newark, New Jersey at night which was really pretty to see.  Photo: Flying over Newark

When in Germany

Olivia Barnes & Kelsey Bemus

After some thought and not sure how to portray our time in Germany through a video, Kelsey and I decided that our final project would be a photo essay. Cameras were a huge part of this trip for us and everyone was taking photos so we knew we would have plenty to work with.

We decided to start with pictures from Berlin, then go to pictures of Bonn and finish with Eisenach. It only seemed fitting to start and end with a group photo. To us, this shows how close we all became throughout this experience. We all had one major thing in common: we are communication arts majors. With that being said, we are all so diverse. Some of us are journalists, photographers, designers, TV personalities, etc. This helped us all to relate to one another and be able to have an experience as a group.

So, in the words of Penni Pier, we were all creators on this trip. We spent our days walking around beautiful cities with more history than we could have imagined. We took pictures and wrote stories along with creating videos in the middle. We talked to strangers who may or may not have spoke English and we didn't know the answer to that until we said hello. This experience really opened our eyes and showed us another culture of the world. One that we would think would be similar to that of the U.S. but is different than anything we could have imagined. A country that has been knocked down and brought back to their feet. This photo essay represents an amazing trip that we will never forget.