The location of Frankfurt (Oder) made for some very interesting adventures. I lived about five minutes from the bridge over the Oder River that separates Germany and Poland. Most of the time I would meet friends at the McDonalds next to the bridge and we would walk over to Slubice, Poland for dinner or coffee. I loved the coffee shop we always went to, because I could try all sorts of Polish desserts there. Each new dessert was its own mini adventure since neither I nor my friends spoke Polish and had no idea what I was ordering.
Frankfurt (Oder) is also located only an hour and a half from the center of Berlin. The student ID, issued to exchange students, allows for free use of all public transportation within the state of Brandenburg which includes Frankfurt (Oder), Berlin and surrounding cities. My friends and I would often spend a day in Berlin on the weekends because it was so easy to go back and forth. We went on shopping trips, explored unique museums, saw movies, and discovered the nightlife there.
I especially enjoyed the museums because they were very interactive. The Ritter Sport museum was amazing because you get to make your own bar of chocolate and put anything you want in it. Another really cool museum we went to, was about immigrants to Berlin. The museum was composed of a series of bedrooms that belonged to imaginary people from different countries. We were allowed to go into the rooms and read about the person who lived there and go through their possessions. It was hard to remember that we were not actually going through a real person’s things. It was also extremely enlightening to see what it must be like to integrate oneself into a completely foreign society while simultaneously maintaining one’s native culture.
Although I lived in Berlin during my gap year, I was able to discover it in new ways when I studied abroad. I had never been a tourist in Berlin since I just moved there and got a job without having been there before. Being with my study abroad friends allowed me a chance to be a tourist with them. Also, the fact that my friends were from different countries helped me to see Berlin through their perspective.