SAN FRANCISCO – With only one month remaining for the class of 2019 in San Francisco, thoughts have turned to the next destination in the seven-city journey: Berlin. Students will be arriving in the famed European city throughout July and August. Students have expressed a range of emotions, from excitement to nervousness. The Quest asked some students their thoughts on starting a new semester in a new city.
Inaugural Class student Adrian Goedeckemeyer from Germany explained, “I am very excited to show everyone the beautiful places around the city and explore the rich German history. I still remember the great times I had when I first got to know Berlin and I can promise that there is always more to discover. We Minerva students will fit in great in this city and in Kreuzberg and I am very excited to see each of us adapt a little to the German way of life, enjoy German beer and food and maybe even slow down a little and enjoy some relaxed German fall evenings in a beautiful Biergarten or one of the many parks. I can’t wait for a beautiful fall with leaves changing their colors and honestly, winter in Germany is great too, we will be able to go to Christmas markets all across the city and enjoy a beautiful festive time.”
“I am somewhat nervous about being able to manage my time in an efficient way so that I can immerse deeply in the city without putting my academics at risk,” said IC student Raymundo Gonzalez Leal.
During their first year, all students at Minerva are enrolled in the same four cornerstone classes. In subsequent years students take classes specific to their majors and concentrations, meaning the workload will vary for each student depending on which and how many courses the student takes. This model creates some unpredictability in how much time students will have to explore and immerse themselves in the new cities in which they live.
Another concern was voiced by Inaugural Class student Tyler Pincus, “I am nervous about learning German and being able to see as much of the city as I would like. I have heard I will be fine with English, but as a personal goal I would really like to leave with at least a preliminary understanding of German. Also, four months to learn a city will be quite a challenge–I am nervous that I might leave still feeling like a tourist!”
Among Minerva’s international student body, only four students are German speakers, which means that the majority of students will be grappling with, in many cases, a third or fourth language. Some students have been using online resources, such as Duolingo, to begin learning the basics of the language. Others having been utilizing Thursday morning German and pancake roundtables run by Inaugural Class student Julian Grosse.
“I think it is unrealistic that Minervans will all learn German over the summer, but I highly recommend some basic knowledge just to more easily pick up conversations or feel more comfortable when getting coffee or food,” added Goedeckemeyer.
Yet the nervous feelings are largely surpassed by students’ excitement for the wide range of experiences they will be able to enjoy: food, culture, museums, history, theatre, opera, and volunteering, to name a few. “I am looking forward to learn about how Germany is maintaining its status as one of the strong European powers,” exclaimed IC student Usman Ali.
Ali’s peer Audrey Tu emphasized: “A lot of city exploring, language learning, and making local friends in technology meetup events. I wish to know more about the living habits of Berlin. I am considering buying a second hand bicycle.”
The prospect of being in Europe stretches far beyond Berlin for many of the students. “I plan on using some time during winter break and maybe before starting classes in order to travel through Europe,” continued Gonzalez Leal. The proximity of countries in Europe, and the central location of Germany makes this aspiration a common one among Minerva students.
“What I am most nervous about is the short duration of our stay. I have talked to many students and they are hoping to see so much of Europe while we are there and I am worried that will cause some to miss out on experiencing everything that is available to us in Berlin while we are there. Of course travel will be possible, but 15 weeks are short and we still have a lot of academics and should really try to enjoy Berlin as a city beyond just using it to take classes. That is why I recommend everyone to plan some trips around Europe before and after the semester. It is beautiful there and you shouldn’t miss out!” cautioned Goedeckemeyer.
After a year in San Francisco, Goedeckemeyer warns: “Prepare for some slower internet speeds — on mobile and at cafes — separate yourself from on-demand deliveries services and say goodbye to Uber and co. Public transit will be great and a lot of things easier, but different.”
Berlin will be intentionally very different from San Francisco, and the combination of nerves and anticipation currently felt within the Minerva student body will hopefully serve to fuel their experience in Germany.