dancing_moon: Luffy with stars in his eyes (so-damn-cool)
So, after a week of utter bumming around and hardly lifting a finger except when in the pool (yes, I have started to swim a bit again) I decided that my break from the world was over and that I'd better start doing stuff again. Among those stuffs, alas, I count my two 12-page essays.

Still, as Sunday evening rolled around, I realized that I was not going to get any studying done in the remaining hours before next week. No disaster, I did allow myself seven days of leisure... but I also realized that I hadn't left my block during the entire week (and my room only about half the days) and that was a bit embarrassing. So I hauled ass off to Potsdamer Platz and plonked myself into a cinema seat. When in doubt, watch a movie - it's almost Doing Something With Your Life.

Saw 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy' )

They also showed the trailer for MiB^3. It looks awesome!!!

Monday I finally got around to visit the Berlin Guggenheim. I've been thinking of going there ever since I learned that it was free on Mondays - because I am both a cheapass and utterly ignorant about modern art, so it's not like I expected to get that much out of a visit.

My fail at comprehending very modern art )

Tuesday was spent writing stuff for work (still no essay, but at least I'm writing something beyond blog posts!) and going on a language tandem with a girl who wants to freshen up her Swedish before she does a project for her Masters. By the by, if someone has a room/bed/sofa to let to a nice student who is going to Stockholm for about 3 weeks in April, do gimme a shout.

Still, I don't want to slack off now that I'm not busy as hell in school. It's my goal to experience as much as possible of Berlin outside of both the university halls and my room. So, step one! Buy a Tip magazine and see what's on offer for the coming two weeks.

It's already paid iteself off, too ^_^ Because tonight they held a open discussion about the human/machine interaction in advanced experimental implants entitled "Werden wir Cyborgs?" (Are we becoming cyborgs?) at the Max Planck Science Gallery.

Since the two debate guests were an engineer working in brain-research and a philosopher/biologist working in ethics and medicine history, I figured I would probably not grasp every detail but also not be utterly lost.

Really glad I went there, it was very interesting both in what was said and how they had built the discussion. The audience were allowed to pick themes, by choosing among three short movie clips that where shown on a screen (Choose with laser pointers!!1! Empirical evidence I just gathered shows that if you give a bunch of adults, several of whom appear to hold at least doctorates, a laser pointer each they will turn into gleeful kids for the first five minutes). We also decided who was to "get the word" though I think both guests got to talk every time they signaled that they wanted. further questions could be asked either normally or sent in by SMS, which I appreciated very much. Mostly due to the "omfg a bunch of professors so not opening my mouth to speak German in here!!!" factor.

I learned interesting tidbits about the frontline of medical research, that we shall (alas) probably never be able to download an entire foreign language into the brain and heard many other interesting things. Some of it tied back quite nicely into the Body/Machine seminar I've had.

Then I got to visit the showroom of the Max Planck Institute and OMFG! SO COOL! Touch screens that wouldn't look amiss in the latest Star Trek movie, some kind of curved screen thing where it looks as if a molecule is hovering, amazingly beatiful photographs of cells and molecules in a room that I could best describe as iArchitecture. I'm going back during daytime to have a closer look, felt a bit tired right now. But that was seriously a room from the future, looking even better since it was in a classical old building by the Gendarmenmarkt.

How I love this city!
dancing_moon: Zoro brushing his teeth while sleeping (Lazy)
In Germany, they're in the process of switching out the federal president, after the old one got caught in a severe scandal. There was a lot of media hounding but, from what I've heard from sensible people, also very reasonable complaints against him and illegal stuff and whatnot. Election for the next president is coming up, though from what I can understand, the presented candidate is a pretty sure win. Okay.

In Sweden, the crown princess just had a daughter. I don't care all that much, although of course it's nice for them (and, heh, part of me went 'yes a girl, good!'). But it also brings up the obvious discussing of whether we want to keep a monarchy or not.

Now, on one hand, I do feel that all humans should be born equal and that it's quite odd how the court doesn't have to tell anyone where all the money they get goes to; I don't insist on knowing anybodys pocket money, but if they really use most of the sum for upkeep of historical castles and parks, why not show that? Everybody else who is statefunded or pays taxes has to do that. Certainly people who get social security money need to show proof for just about every little expense, so, uh, why not the people who get the biggest "social security" payment of them all?

But, tangent. I still don't neccessarily feel that we need to get rid of the court, because we'll still have to pay someone to do the ceremonial greetings and stuff. And, looking at the German situation, even picking an older person with experience is apparantly totally not a guarantee against them doing stupid shit.

But it was very funny when the announcement came out. I was sitting in a café with some German people from my project seminar, when someone checked their smartphone. Twitter was talking about the (then) very receant reveal that the president would resign and they all broke out in spontaneous cheers :)

One of the best things at the Humboldt university, is how many people seem to actually care about politics, in multiple ways.

In completely unrelated news, I've got a couple of new icons. That pic of Zoro? Might as well have been me this week
/was sinfully lazy and enjoyed it so
dancing_moon: PANIC!!!! (Sinfest image) (Panic!)
So Berlin's got a cold snap. Fine, I'm Swedish, I should be used to it right? Apparantly nobody told my skin that. Despite careful usage of moisturiyer on face and hands, I've gotten weird "scaly" spots next to my eyes. Not very visible )yet *sob* but they are dry, itchy and just feel weirsd. I am not supposed to have scales, yo. And my skin, which is finicky in the best of weathers, is not supposed to go weird on my face dammit!!

If anyone has suggestions, do feel free to share...

That I spent yesterday taking a three hour walk through Berlin, to show B-san and T-san the city since they had come visit me (and see Beast, the korean pop-band), probably didn't improve things...

Due to freezing-our-noses-off yesterday - especially when we went to an Asian Restaurant in the evening, it was so bloody cold omg, we decided to give the touring Berlin thing a bit of a break. Thus, today was mostly spent indoors: first at a nice big Sunday breakfast. Then, stuffed full with bread, ham and fruit, we went to the Musikinstrumenten Musem. B-san is interested in classical music, T-san recently did a bit of studies in the area and I'm a curius-about-everything music!n00b, so it was quite a pleasant visit. I feel that they could have put up some more signs talking about the history and make of the instruments, but the collection looked nice and in the audio guide, we could hear many samples of the exhibition pieces. Very nice, the latter really lifted the visit to something else!

Since a student ticket is a measly 2 euro and the café was also cheap, I can absolutely recommend everyone with a bit of an interest in music, instruments and historical items a visit. The museum is right next to the Berliner Philharmonie at Potsdamer Platz, and the building in itself is worth a look too.
dancing_moon: Mana looks angsty (Mana)
It's been a while, but I'd like to try and document my theatre visits, so here goes nothing...

In the cyborg seminar, we had a text by René Pollesch, the very opaque www-slums, and in connection with this we went to see a play by him: Schmeiß Dein Ego weg! (Throw your ego away!), which was also quite difficult to grasp but at least there were some very good acting and a couple of very interesting monologues.

The "plot" isn't quite simple to explain, but basically Martin (played by Martin Wuttke, he was really good!) wakes up after 200 year of being frozen, and tries to discuss the problem of the Fourth Wall - which has become a real, solid thing in the time he was frozen - and the issue of body, soul, self and the connection of these things with the woman he loves who has been split in two (or more? there's a "choir" too who might some time be part of this woman. Or not). The thing is, all the characters talk past each other, and the play is rather built around a series of monologues each defining a point of view than actual dialogues.

They also did interesting things with the Fourth Wall, which began as a panelled wall on the stage, so that it looked as if the walls of the theatre room extended to cover the stage too. Then they broke open two panels, and through a live feed, showed things from behind the wall (which was made to look like an old-fashiond living room) and then there was another video projecting on the wall inside this room which we only caught glimpses of, until the last scene.

Quite difficult to explain, even more difficult to understand (acoustically too, unfortunately, sometimes I had a hard time hearing the actors) but intense, engaging and leaving many thoughts behind. I'm also glad that I got to visit the Volksbühne, it seems to be a very interesting stage! And the building looks quite epic!
dancing_moon: My books: Never enough shelf space (books)
This post is the product of cold weather and my reluctance to leave the warm confines of the library just yet, as well as the slight sense of shame I always feel when I take up communal work-places to laze around on the internet. So, instead, I shall take up the communal work-space and write a Serious Post of Seriousness. Well, not really, but at least I won't spend another half hour looking at the funny macros George Takei keeps posting...

As a background, please see my previous post: Stundenplan @ HU [1] a.k.a. "Wot I actually do in school here in Berlin"

Wednesday : Language & History / Body/Machine Interaction (a.k.a. CYBORGS) )

And now the library is closing, so my favorite class, which is on Thursday, will have to wait until later.
dancing_moon: Text: Resistance is ohm (resistance is ohm)
Yesterday I went to see Das kunstseidene Mädchen (The Girl made of Artificial-Silk) in the Aufbau Theatre. This is one of Berlin's many small private theatre companies, and it just so happens that it lies about one block from my apartment.
Which, I'm sad to say, totally proves that they need a better PR-responsible, because I pass the building where the theatre is every morning on my way to school, and we're currently studying the book (written 1932 by Irmgard Keun, quite worth a read) and I knew neither of the theatre nor this play. Luckily enough, one of my fellow students has stronger Google-fu and informed the class about the play last week.

The play: Girls shouldn't be made of fake silk, because it wrinkles so easily )

The day before Das Kunstseidene Mädchen I also did things, I barely know how to keep my head straight with all this sudden social life ^_^;;;

Anyway, two other exchange students had, inspired by the fact that it was Australia Day called together an event called Australia, which turned out to be a very nice gathering of Australians, Germans and exchange students from other countries to learn about post/colonilism from an Australian perspective.
We gathered in the cellar of a pub and there followed an evening with poetry readings (Oodgeroo Noonuccal, some others and new poems by one of the organisers), historical information (the dictation test and the ethnic cleansing of the Tasmanian peninsula, both completely new things to me) and looked at the works of a photographer whom is involved in the struggle for indigineous rights and whose name I have utterly forgotten. There was supposed to be a film showing too, but considering we discussed until a bit after midnight, that didn't really work out. Still, a lively discussion is both something less solid and more engaging than even a really good movie, so I think it all worked out quite well.

Otherwise, I've spent most of the week thinking of a poem by the East German poet Karl Mickel, which I'm supposed to present on Monday. With a few clear and well-formulated interpretation theses. orz

...and apparantly while I'm sitting in a library writing this post, there's a load of police cars and whatnot outside of work in Stockholm, in the aftermath of a robbery on a nearby goldsmith o.0
dancing_moon: Wao Youka as Dracula (Creepy)
Last week I was busy with university stuff, but today I went out to Karlshorst to visit the German-Russian museum which hosts exhibitons about the Eastern Front and relationships between the two countries during the Cold War era.

The house where WWII ended - today museum

Karlshorst, for those that don't know, would be a serious contender to Most Boring-Looking Suburb Ever except I've lived for a year in Erkner and know that this ain't nothing when it comes to potential mind-bendingly boringness of east-Berlinish suburbs. I mean, they have an actual town center even if it's tiny and (at least on the side of the tracks where I was) mostly consist of drugstores.

Anyway - the reason the museum is out here, beyond Ostkreuz (and when you get east of Ostkreuz you're basically leaving all civilization behind... it's like passing Skogås in Stockholm; Suddenly COUNTRYSIDE!) is because it's housed in the historical building where Germany signed the capitulation regarding the Eastern Front in 1945. This is also, apparantly, the only co-managed German-Russian museum or cultural institution in the world.

It's an old school, with some really typical examples of Soviet-era victory and memorial monuments inside, like the huge Worker With Child and Sword In Hand stained glass window (which I think was either made of plastic, plexiglas or just really weird glass, yo) above the staircase and some red marble relief of... someone.

The exhibits were mostly photos, posters, letters or facsimiles thereof, with lots of text (in German and Russian, non-speakers of those countries must buy a guide) on glass signs on the walls. That last, by the by, seems to be the latest high fashion in how to build a museum in Berlin. Mostly, it looks nice, but not when you have black text in front of a dark grey wall -_-
Otherwise there were some uniforms, weapons, a few documentary films and bits and bobs of soldier stuff. The propaganda posters were interesting, as well as some of the the transcribed letters. Photos not so much.

They had a really creepy recording too, of a speech Himmler had held to some upper-level military people of some kind. It was just - holy crap, what he was saying, the complete dehumanization of the non-combattant enemy and the very frank realization that, yep, people listened to guys like these and then went out and murdered millions.

I'd say that I'm pretty much normally informed about WWII for a Swede of my generation, with more knowledge in some areas and less in others - a lot due to the first-hand account from my grandmother of course, and otherwise through a load of informative YA books which my library had at some time invested a lot of shelspace in. As such, I learned a lot of new numbers and some new facts regarding the Eastern Front from this museum.

Well worth the roughly three hours it took to read my way through it, especially since it's free of charge.

They also had the most hideous communist memorial trophy ever =D It was in several types of marble and gold and - guh, the worst of bombastic eastern design. Horribly wonderful.
dancing_moon: Text: Resistance is ohm (resistance is ohm)
So I'm a geek. Nobody is surprised about that, right? Thus, now that professor Nosferatu has returned to America (this is not a joke, but it is a bit of a long story) my Tuesdays are free from twelve o'clock. Since I know myself and know that I'll just bum around if I go home that early, I have decided to dedicate the day to Culturally Improve Myself. Or, in other words, geek out at some of Berlin's many museums.

Berlin Charité University Hospital

Because I was extremely exhausted today, I thought I'd visit one of the smaller ones, and thus headed for the - as it turned out - very well-hidden Medizinhistorisches Museum. The reason the museum is so well-hidden is that it's located on the Charité grounds; the old university hospital of Berlin. That Google maps tells you to go to an entrance to the Charité area itself, which has less than no signs about a museum, doesn't exactly ease the navigation.
Since I'd already tried to find it once before (and then ended up at the museum for Natural History, so no big loss), I looked very carefully at the map this time. And still got lost once, but I could round back with no huge loss of time...

Anyway! I did find it, finally, and also got to look at the quite nice old buildings that form the old Charité (where they ttly have the best-looking university eatery, it could almost belong to a hotel from the outside. And we have a tent, bah).
These aren't the first buildings, but they've still got a good two hundred years on them. As I learned today, the entire thing was built in preparation for a non-occuring plague epidemic right at the beginning of the eighteenth century, after which it became an army hospital and a place where the army surgeons could hone their skills on poor people - who, in turn, got the dubious honor of receiving the best free healthcare of the time. Which, as anyone who knows anything about medical history knows, was a mixed blessing at best... At least the surgeons were truly among the very best when it came to operating, setting bones to right and other such more concretely "try and repair the broken bit" medicin.

There are so many lovely old buildings in Berlin. Cool new ones too, one of the things I truly love about the architecture here is how mixed it is!

Cut for discussion of medical exhibiton )

Only worth a visit for those with an interest in the theme and not too easily squicked by human remains, but I'd recommend a walk through the hospital area to anyone. It's not that big (unless you're trying to find the museum without a map), there are lots of nice brick buildings and once you've passed through it and reach the river, you get a very nice view of the main station. Following the river, I also got a good view of the parliament buildings, among those the Kansleramt. It was great weather for a walk, cool but sunny, with ~dramatic~ cloud formations and a fresh wind.

Hauptbahnhof, Berlin
Berlin Hauptbahnhof

This was a field of gravel, some half-finished tracks and a lot of cranes the first time I visited Berlin. Now it's a quite fancy central station, though they're still building all around it. One of the things I love about the city is how it changes every time I return.

After a spot of lunch in the train station, I decided to walk along the river. This walk turned out sliiighlty longer than planned; the first bridge I passed was right next to the station and I continued on, but the second bridge turned out not to be open to the public and the third one was all the way down by the Victory Column. Still, it was nice and I saw a lady playing with her dog, which was full of that special doggy enthusiasm that they get when you throw fake-bones (hot pink fake bones, even =) for them to fetch and it ran until the feet almost blurred. Aww

Walked back through a very gray Tiergarten and then pretty much stumbled home and into bed. Dinner was oranges, a yoghurt and a donut today.

Maybe next week I'll finally go to the Technical Museum, sooner or later I'll make it!
dancing_moon: Mana looks angsty (Mana)
Today we had a guest lecturer talking about the visibility of Muslim communities in Western Europe. Interesting, if a bit too much show-and-tell and too little theoretical focus.

Afterwards, I was planning to visit Berlin's LGBT museum, Schwules Museum, although I got somewhat delayed by a truly spiffing grilled tuna with teriyaki sauce. As I have come to realize, the building where the Marginalized Identities seminars take place, are located in a really swank area. Hugo Boss stores, small galleries and hip (?) Asian restaurants. Luckily, a Friday lunch isn't anywhere near my wallet-death level, and since I'd heard internetly rumours about one of Berlin's better ramen restaurants in the area, I decided to investigate. The ramen part, alas, is only open in the evenings, but judging from how tasty (and packed) their lunch room was, I will have to visit.

Anyway, after that it was off to Meringhdamm and the museum. I did not have all too grand expectations, having read a review (ten years ago, gawd how time flies) that stated that while the exhibited material was interesting, the presentation was somewhat lacking. Aaaand that's still true. It's a smallish museum - though with an entrance fee of 3€ for students, one definitely gets value for the money - with mostly paintings, photographs and copies of various documents hanging on the walls next to little informative signs. Unfortunately, in several cases, the "little" takes precedence over "informative". One of the current exhibitions is called Zuschauer und Akteure. Akteurinnen und Zuschauerinnen and shows portraits from four hundred years of gay* history. While that is nice, I was not quite certain what to take from many of the portraits, which often only contained the barest biographic dates (subject, year, geographic origin, artist when known) and did not make greater attemps to put in a context. That is not to say that there weren't thought-provoking or beautiful pieces. The ones I specially noticed were a daguerreotype of older gay men and soldiers in a park in Berlin, the landscape portrait of a man in a suit entitled "gay Nazi" (which was accompanied by informational text), a friendship painting of two handsome men and a pencil drawing of two naughtily smiling young women. But for many of the portraits, I don't quite feel as if I have any context and, unfortunately, I'm not really artistic enough to be able to pull that much from them on my own.

Oh well. The permanent exhibition, 200 years of LGBT history in Germany and Berlin, was more interesting to me, since I tend to prefer history over art.
Interesting if one can read German, that is; don't think I saw one single sign in English in the entire museum.

* it's not a coincidence that the German name translates to "Gay Museum". While there are exhibition pieces relating to lesbians and trans* persons, they are in minority
dancing_moon: Farin Urlaub is shot by Lara Croft. No, really (Farin U)
Yesterday I spontaneously visited the cinema round the corner with my roommate/landlady. Since we were both a bit bored, we decided to see what ran in the nearby cinemas*. Lucky for us, a movie that E. had heard good things about ran in the Babylon-cinema which is two streets behind our flat. It has a nice big screen too, although it must've been severely full of dust or something, because I kept coughing throughout the movie (but not loudly enough to disturb, I think, since E. said she didn't notice).

We saw This Must Be The Place To Be, a quite brilliant movie which I have not heard a peep about from, uh, anyone before E. mentioned it. An understated, touching movie with excellent acting from pretty much all corners. Throw in an interesting plot, told in a captivating, not too on-the-nose-writey manner and some excellent cinematography and it had me from about three minutes into the film. I highly recommend it - though try not to read too many previews, I went into the film completely blind and somehow, I think it made it even better?
The very barest bones of the story: An aging rock-star is bored and disillusioned with life. Change happens, truths are revealed and people open up.

Then today the international club at the university offered us discounted tickets for a concert with the Berlin Symphonic Orchestra. It was their 65th Anniversary concert, being played in the Berliner Philharmonie - quite the impressive building by the way! - which I had somehow missed so I was a bit underdressed. Whoops.

I also almost missed the entire thing, because the bloody bus didn't run on time! There was supposed to go a bus seven minutes past the hour, then another one at sixteen minutes past. When it was twenty past and no bus in sight, I hailed a cab... Still got there last of everyone in my group, but not too late. On the way back, at least the subway co-operated nicely.

The pieces were:
Olivier Messiaen - Les offrandes oubliées
Frédéric Chopin - Klavierkonzert Nr. 2 f-Moll
César Franck - Symphonie d-Moll

Because I am a classical music dunce, I can't say more than that I enjoyed it, had a good time, and recognized bits of Chopin from movies and the radio.

Tomorrow, there's a literature day which I wish to visit. Which means I should really try to get some sleep if I want to be awake enough to enjoy it.... Double-hopefully, I'll actually be able to sleep with my ear feeling this tender. At least the friggin seven o'clock in the morning roof-repair men don't work weekends.

*Berlin utterly pwns Sweden when it comes to cinemas; At home, there's one chain + like 2 "arty" cinemas if you're lucky enough to live in a large city a.k.a. Sthlm. Here? There's like fifteen, at least, and they all show different movies. Colour me impressed
dancing_moon: Kermit goes "YAY Ohmygod" (Yay)
You wanna know what I did today? I hope you do, because I'm totally gonna tell you ^___^

I paid someone a heap o'moniez to punch four holes in my ears!

Ear-piercing talk (but no pics) )

For further distraction the international club at the university has arranged a concert at the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, which whill play some chosen pieces. I'm off to see them in about an hour, looking forward to it quite a lot =)

How it looks? Really cool, if I may say so myself, but also a bit swollen and whatnot, so I'll hold off the pics for a few days
dancing_moon: My books: Never enough shelf space (books)
So, a few people asked if I wanted to write a bit about my studies in Germany. All comparsions will be to the Swedish university system, which I shall simply except you to know. If for some reason someone who isn't a Swedish student has questions, do ask and I shall do my best to answer

Since I currently possess the IQ of a mashed potatoe (Tuesday is the Long Lecture Day) you'll get it in chronological order, because everything else would be too complicated.

I should perhaps also point out, that this term, I have mostly taken classes in literature history; that is, thematic studies. They looked more interesting and since it's still not 100% certain that I can remain next term, I'd rather do these here and the pure literary analysis classes (which I'll need for my bachelor) in Sweden.

Overall impressions )

The names of my modules, btw, are "(German) Literature History III (1800-today)", "ERASMUS Module Literary History I, II, III" (though all my seminars are modern-ish, ehehehe) and "Text- and Media Analysis". I've also got an extra class that falls under Kulturwissenschaft (Cultural Studies?), but I'll get to that later.

Monday: German-language lyric / Crime and Literature / Franz Kafka )

Tuesday: Literature & Photography / Lost Illusions )

Aaaand because this post is already massive, I think I'll cut there. Wednesdas to Fridays aren't that heavy anyway, but I'll try to scribble them down later in the week :) Have got some interesting classes there too!
dancing_moon: Wao Youka as Dracula (Creepy)
So I was going to do a nice, well-structured post on the German university system (because some of my former classmates from Sweden were curious) but that will have to wait a bit, since I'm feeling a bit too tired for that right now. My annoying almost-cold is beginning to become a real chest cold, which I am valiantly fighting with the help of fresh ginger tea, eucalyptus honey, hot steamy baths and a bit more actual shut-eye in the sleep/internet equation.

In the beginning of November, we'll go see the Norwegian all-female band Katzenjammer. According to our Katzenjammer-expert, they do "chaos pop with some folk-punk". It's fast, engaging and entertaining at least, and I think the concert might turn out to be really great - they seem like one of those bands that do extra well live.

One of my favorite songs, A bar in Amsterdam.

We bought the tickets today and, since we were at the ticket office already also got tickets for the musical Tanz der Vampire - one pair of plastic fangs included with the tickets!
Alas, it's based on the movie by Roman Polanski, him of serious skeevyness, and as such, I'm sure he'll get royalties. Otoh, I hope it's not too much, because Tanz der Vampire nicely filled some ticky-boxes on my mental "Stuffs I Must Do in Berlin This Exchange Year": Seeing some big-budget stage extravaganza, seeing a original German-language musical and vampires/gothy stuff. They'll show the Rocky Horror Picture Show here in Berlin too, in November, which works for ticky-box one and three, but since it will either be translated or in "denglish" (German talk, English songs) it moves to the second position.
Also, the stage images they have on the website look wonderful (eeeeeven though one of the posters has a bit of a Twilight-y vibe going on) so, uhm, I'll just be evil and go. Sorry.

A few days ago, I finished reading Walter Moer's Ensel and Krete: ein Märchen aus Zamonien. Bookblather goes here )

Basically, it's a take-it-or-leave-it book, though anyone who has a strong liking for Moer's style ought to have fun with it. It's also the first book where Hildegunst von Mythenmerz is introduced, which alone makes it worth a read.

When buying this one, I also noticed that the sequel to his Die Stadt der Träumenden Bücher had arrived: Das Labyrinth der Träumenden Bücher! Only out in hardcover so far, but I'm very much looking forward to reading it later :) And there's apparantly a third part coming out in about a year, swell!
dancing_moon: Farin Urlaub is shot by Lara Croft. No, really (Farin U)
Where did last week go? o.0 I thought, what with language class ending, that I'd have a bit more free time, but a sudden realization that it was my cleaning weekend and I'd signed up for a "How to study in Germany" workshop which lasted all Saturday suddenly made the time seem very short indeed... This week, I'm technically free, but tomorrow will be completely dedicated to university stuff, since we have our introduction events for both the department and all international students. The other days are also a bit booked with various tours - of library, mediothek etc, which I think I will all need to visit because hot damn if the Humboldt university ain't a quagmire of rules!! Just getting into the library is approaching airport securty controls.

Some whining re school )

Leaving behind the woes of a student (for the moment), I do have some little free time this week and I intend to use it well!

Today I went with three classmates from the language group (I'll miss them soooo much! Even though we've got a Fb group, it won't be the same thing! And we we were such a nice, well-matched group, nevermind our obsession with whether the teacher waxed his chest or not... Ahem, moving on) to the museum Haus am Checkpoint Charlie.
It's dedicated to the Berlin Wall; it's history, the victims, the escapes and the art it inspired. It also has a pretty substantial department which covers peaceful protests against human rights abuse and, more generally, the different protests in the Soviet area.

Text-intensive, quite "heavy" museum, but super interesting if you take the time to read it all.
That it's actually located right at (the rebuilt) Checkpoint Charlie and is quite agitatory about the themes covered, makes it even more of an experience. Since it's inside an old office building (bigger on the inside! but not by much!) and a first stop for many tourists, there are heavy crowds and not much oxygen.

Anyway, in we went and spent an informative couple of hours. I've visited once, but it was ten years ago and it was interesting to return. This time, I could also appreciate some of the art pieces a bit more, although most of my mental energy was expanded on reading the many signs.

You really, REALLY need to be willing to take your time with the (many) signs on the walls here. They, and the photos they accompany of course, are the meat of the museum - the actual exhibit pieces are mostly items used in escapes and some rather kitschy bits of clothing (uniforms and whatnot). Due to the somewhat erratic spelling/grammar in the English signs, it also helps to have a good grasp of German. I think this is (one of) the reason(s) for several negative reviews I found online.
The other is the somewhat mistaken impression one easily gets from the name of the museum. This ain't a pedagogic look at the "how and why" of the Iron Curtain, but more a grand collection of eye-witness accounts. And if you're not familiar with at least a bit background structure, you won't be able to understand much of what's happening.

Despite the crowds and weird layout, I would still recommend the Haus am Maur ten times more than the GDR museum (located near the Berlin Dome, by the water) which really is a kitschy tourist trap. That ones full of "everyday items from the GRD" and, uh yeah, while it is a kid-friendly museum it was a bit too much Ostalgie and not enough information for me.

Aaaanyway, back to Checkpoint Charlie. Since I'm the kind of geek that likes reading signs, I quite like the Wall House, even if I would have wished the company of slightly fewer visitors.

What did baffle me quite a bit were the two rooms dedicated to Ronald Reagan and Axel Springer. Not that they existed as such, considering how both of them said and did things that are quite relevant in a look at the political themes surrounding the wall, but that the informationed semed about 110% positive. While Reagan's timeline included the tax cuts and his firing of the air traffic controllers, it was mentioned in one line. I think even his cowboy stuff got a sign of it's own, but not this.

And Springer? Who is definitely a debated figure in German history, especially if you're a museum dedicated to human rights issues, protests and freedom... Now, admittedly, I didn't read everything in that room as we were all getting quite tired, but the overall tone seemed very pro Springer-company. Since this is a privately owned museum, they are of course free to exhibit whatever they want, but it made me quite curious about 1) who actually owns the place, these days and 2) what else are they leaving out?

Anyway - if you're in Berlin, you could do worse than come to this museum. Just get up earlier than we did, so you don't have to push through quite as many crowds.
dancing_moon: Farin Urlaub is shot by Lara Croft. No, really (Farin U)
...and then she went Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!! because the tribute night to Die Ärzte, a multi-band cover concert, turned out friggin awesome! out of 8 bands, I only really felt one were bad )and they could play, but they totally lacked energy and/or stage presence), it ended with all the bands + some audience + plenty of beer *cough* on the stage of Kulturbrauerei singing Zu Spät and Westerland after a pretty fantastic 4 HOURS of music & jokes by/about/related to my favorites favorite band in the world.

This after a Friday evening spent playing Settlers of Catan and Munchkin until laaate (got home at four-ish. AM.) and a Saturday day which began with a spontaneous visit to IKEA because we totally needed a spagetthi strainer and a lkfmnhj-thingy, which you turn pancackes etc with, for the non-stick pan followed by a equally spontaneous stanidng around watching the inline skating marathon as it passed by our subway station (but we ran home and dumped the IKEA stuff. Since when do they not have paper bags, the bastids?) and that was really nice, sunny, happy people, swoooosh and they'd inlined past.
Alright, the accident we saw because some dumb fuck just couldn't wait or go around so that a poor marathonist rolled into her bike which she saw fit to drag over the marked street just before a new big heap of inliners were coming in - that was less fun, more ohshit!! But the inline person seemed fine and rolled away after someone helped hir up & the stupid woman with a bike got booed out, a soda can thrown after her and an angry lecture from someonein an Official Jacket, so all was well.

AND THEN I went off to spend something like five hours dancing and getting to know some people whom I will meet again at the Abwärts concert and now my feet are falling off, but I am so happy =D


dancing_moon: Kitty: *hugs* (*hugs*)
Today was so hot!! Feeling like I wanted to escape the heath, yet do something fun the day before school starts I decided to visit the aquarium by Berlin Zoo.

It partly failed, because the aquarium was also very hot and humid, but on the other hand it was very exciting.

Many beautiful tropical fish and some species I haven't seen in aquariums before. I was especially impressed by their selection of amphibians and the insectarium! They had red weaver ants - those critters make one VERY impressive nest - that were not behind glass. I think they were kept in captivity by the pool of water that surrounded them, since it was smoking from (I assume) frozen oxygen = too cold for ants to "swim" over. A few adventurous ants had escaped anyway and were climbing the wall ~to freedom~ or something... Or maybe they were lost?

They also had several salamanders (the Chinese Giant Salamander isn't about to win any beauty contests, is it?) and jelly-fish, which I rarely see in aquariums. Especially liked the little white-and-purple bellshaped jelly fish, they looked like adorable aliens bobbing up and down in the water ^^

I filmed quite a lot, but since the light (and noise, oh children -_-) levels were as they were, I think I'd better cut away some stuff before I youtube it. This little clip of an arapaima, the world's largest sweetwater fish, hailing from the Amazon, was decent enough on its own :)

Click for a very big fish )

I absolutely recommend it to aquarium fans, I spent about four hours there today. Er, but do avoid the uppermost floor if you find bugs unpleasant, there was a bit of a crawling sensation down my back from time to time ^^;
dancing_moon: Gilbert goes "Wat??" (wat)
Ze street signs
I decided that, since I am joining the tech-geeky generation by buying a Smartphone (Samsung Galaxy 5, like it so far) and Facebook is evul and only allows logged-in people to see the pictures, and I am far to lazy to double-upload everything, imma gonna get a twitter account. Connected to twitpic, you see =)
So if anyone wants to see my random photos from Berlin (which I will try to remember to actually take, ehehe) you can find my tweetages @dansandem

This photo, I just have to share twice:
Crossing Rudi-Dutschke-Str/Axel-Springer-Str

I _boggled_ seeing those signs during my walk, lemme tell you! Now, you gotta know some pretty recent German history to understand that bogglement, and I most certainly do not know the whole story!

But, basically Dutschke was a left-activist and student leader. He was shot by a right-wing extremist in 1968, survived but was severly wounded.
And Axel Springer was the then owner of the Springer-group which, among other things, owned the magazine Bild which went out very hard against the student movement and agitated in what to me looks like a pretty Sarah Palinish way (less crazy religion tho).

Eh, right, the Springer main offices is also right by this crossing.

Sooooo basically I stood there wondering whether I misremembered a name (Springer, Sprenger, what do I know? Apparantly I didn't), if this was some kind of German expression of black humor, if it was a protest against Springer or what. So of course I had to photograph it, and from what I can see off Wikipedia, it's basically a combined memorial for Dutschke and a bit of a "Fuck off!" to Springer.

If anyone has more information or a link about this, do share because it seems fascinating =D

Så var det det där med lokaltrafiken aka My thoughts on BVG vs. SL

(I suspect the rest of this post will mainly interest [personal profile] lanjelin but what the hell she's not here so I can discuss it face to face so you ALL GET TO SHARE =D)

BVG = The peeps running the trains, buses etc in Berlin
SL = Dito, but Stockholm

BVG vs SL: Overall )

Prices )

So: If you work and buy a monthly ticket, the difference in cost ain't that huge. If you're a visitor or a student, Berlin FTW

One place where it's mostly a YMMW is the matter of ticket barriers and ticket formats )

Oh, and there one more way that the BVG wins. THE *BLEEPING* TRAINS ACTUALLY RUN. ON TIME. Sure, delays happen, but they're an exception, not the norm

And since school starts tomorrow, I really gotta sleep now!
dancing_moon: [APH] Austria getting his hair teased (Stress)
I have finally figured out what all the people in Berlin do on Sunday's, when most of the stores are closed (they're not in the foreign-tourist-dominated museums, that much I know since earlier):
After a long brunch, they go to the flea market! E-v-e-r-y one of them, it felt like at around four in the afternoon when the sun was beating down on us and I almost drowned in a sea of people inspecting handcrafted nicknacks, old glassware, pop-art printed t-shirts and other neccessities of life.

It was fun, despite the heat, and I found two little banana-leaf boxes to put stuff in (pencils and post-its in one, online-ID thingys and USB-sticks in the other), lavendel honey and a super-cheap soap plate. Almost forgot that I needed the last, until I stood around smelling some fancy (but overly pricy) handmade soaps!

Also bought fresh-pressed orange juice again (it's so cheap here! And I love it soooo much) and heroically avoided all ice-creams, ice-lattes, sweet stuffs and cupcakes tempting me from different stands. I only sampled three sorts of honey-milk breakfast spread >_>

And now I've cut my hair and am gonna watch Doctor Who while it dries.
dancing_moon: Farin Urlaub is shot by Lara Croft. No, really (Farin U)
Phew, tired & happy! I've walked around above Alexanderplats today, looking for the comic shop Grober Unfug which I thought was somewhere by the subway station Weinmeisterstrasse. Turns out they'd moved up a stop (I suspected as much when I began to see the very fancy stores that are all over the area now, not the kind of neighbours comic stores can usually afford. Alas). But! They'd left a sign behind and with some luck and a few helpful locals, I found them again. Larger store, but quite small manga department. There was many more titles in the Thalia bookshop in that big shopping senter at Alex.

I also had to stop at restaurant Transit for a somewhat too expensive, but amazingly tasty lunch. I honestly only gave them a second look because the waitresses were standing and giggling in the open window, they looked a bit too preppy for me. But, happy waitresses? And Asian food, of some kind of izakaya/tapas variety?
Weeell, I took the chance and don't regret it a bit. 3 small dishes, a bubble tea and a bowl of rice came to about 12 euro and it was among the best modern Asian I've had. Ever.
It was also plenty filling - each small dish cost 3 euro and I could honestly have skipped the rice, except as mouth soothener after the spicy beef salad. I warmly recommend it, and you can get every dish vegetarian too.

Today I also got myself a Tip magazine, which contains info about events in Berlin. (On a side-note, I'm always positively surprised by how much actual written content German magazines have. Even Tip carries several editorials and a couple of readable articles)

Anyway, tonight there was apparantly a free Shakespeare play in a nearby park. Probably one of the more unusual Shakespeare versions I've seen, but a damn good one )

The play was entertaining, more engaging than I would've thought and the only downside was that it was a bit hard to hear what happened sometime, especially when prince Harry spoke, but otherwise I count is as a most successful experience.

There's another show tomorrow, same time and place, if anyone thinks it sounds like fun. And is in Berlin, ehe ;)
dancing_moon: To Victory! Daleks can win the war (victory!)
I've landed! I actually landed on Thursday but the internet connection's been wonky.

Which in a way was a good thing, since it meant I could spend most of these days running around town ^___^

The Good
My landlady seems really nice, my room is larger than I thought and the house is just wonderfully placed!

The window faces the garden, a lush half-wild little oasis (where, I just found out this morning, a goshawk moved in not long ago!) and the front of the house faces a mini-plaza. Which, honestly, mostly works like a parking lot but it's rather still and quiet. So, surrounded by our little isle of calm, we sit in the middle of Kreuzberg: Oranienstrasse round the corner, nightclubs, bars, restaurants, quirky shops, second-hand stuff, hairsalons that advertize their skill with punk styles, street art and lord knows what else. I ♥ it.

Have mostly spent the days running around shopping and exploring the area, which is totally neat. Also sleeping and reading, because I think a bit of pre-travel jitters loosened themselves by making me super tired. But today, I'm feeling quite perky and since it's saturday, I won't have to spend a couple of hours on the other activity that I've been doing since coming here. Which leads us on to...

The Not-So-Good
What is less smiley and more :( is the fact that I, despite two visits (and a lot of waiting) to two different Burgerämter (Citizens Office aka The Dread German Bureaucracy) I still haven't managed to register myself as a person living in Berlin. Which I must have to be able to enroll in school. You are seeing my problem, yes? Well, the first time they were stupid and couldn't find my landlady in their records. Of course, when she called them not 40 minutes later, they found her in a tick. I mean, what?

Then I tried another office, on her recommendation, and whaddya know, due to lack of personell they only had pre-booked meetings that day. Which they've apparantly been doing for all of August, a fact that none of the three people we talked to one the phone saw fit to mention even as we said the name of that office to two of them. *sigh*

On Monday, I'm trying the last of the three offices in this part of the city and if that doesn't work I'll go to the student union to ask for a native backup.


dancing_moon: Jadeite / DM / Me (Default)
Dancing Moon


Style Credit

May 2012

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