Berlin: “Poor but Sexy”

CATEGORIES: February 2017

When you think of Berlin, you probably think of Cold War spies and World War II. You wouldn’t be wrong to do so and, in fact, our Global Seminar, “Berlin’s History and Culture: Art, Architecture, and Memorials,” examines the artifacts by and about those time periods. We try to understand the values, goals, and self-understanding of these times but also how subsequent cultures have dealt with the atrocities perpetrated during these timeframes. Berlin has incorporated commemoration and representation of the past into most of its street corners and we take to the streets (there’s no classroom in this course!) to examine how.

But this story is about love – not hate or war – and there is a lot to love in the German capital. First, it’s a truly cosmopolitan city with a lot of diversity. In the subway you will here as much French or Turkish as you might Berliner German.

Second, Berlin has some of the coolest versions of anything that you might already love: from art to music to beer gardens to graffiti to parks to parties. Whatever you like, Berlin is doing it in style. Also, those fun things to do are probably not too expensive. Berlin’s former mayor once quipped that Berlin was “arm aber sexy” (poor but sexy) because of its heavy debt load due to its major reconstruction since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Thankfully, that poor part translates to affordable fun.

Finally, when you mix that beautiful diversity with those cool things to do, you find a recipe for meeting someone special who does awesome things. Whether it’s true love or a creative partnership or just a great conversation – love of life is probably Berlin’s main characteristic.