Berlin Day 6 – The Deutsche Berlin Oper

Today was a day we all were looking forward to. It was also a little bittersweet because it was our last full day of our two-week journey. We had a leisurely morning, which, for many of us, began at Nalu Diner, an American restaurant located just down the street from our apartments on Dunckerstrasse.

We had an appointment for a “behind-the-scenes” tour of the Deutsche Berlin Oper. It was guided by Herr Joerg Riekert. This was an excellent and thorough tour, which emphasized that this opera house is not focused on “glitz and glamour,” and is void of the fancy gilding and elaborate decoration one may expect of a prestigious opera. In this way, the opera company ensures that the focus is set on the theatrics and visuals of the performances. On the tour, we were able to see the dressing rooms, the back stage, the main stage, the orchestra pit, and the stores which house thousands of scenery and props.

Later in the day, we met with Frau Marion Mair, who is a member of the marketing team for the opera. We sat in the open air and warm sunshine of the opera’s café, and discussed the strategies, tactics, and overall workflow of how the Deutsche Berlin Oper is successfully marketed and promoted.

That evening, we all returned to our apartments and prepared for our night at the opera. Everyone was dressed very professionally, but nothing over-the-top, in keeping with this particular opera’s standard. The performance of Mozart’s Magic Flute was wonderful. Though, at times, difficult to follow because of the language barrier, the visuals and story were very clear. Several of us had researched the story beforehand, so this helped to know which scenes were occurring at what time. Mozart’s Magic Flute was filled with Masonic imagery and lore and was a fairy tale- like story of love and humor, which we all thoroughly enjoyed.
Thursday, March 13th
- Gregory Kirstein

Berlin Day 5 – Bauhaus Archiv

In our era of fluff, effects, and over saturation in design, Bauhaus Archiv is a culture of pure form meets function. The clean simple minimalist Tao of the modern movement. Within the brief Bauhaus time capsule, from around 1919 to 1933, you traveled to a moment of modern and still relevant design. Raided by the SS and closed by the Nazis, the members were arrested in the beginning of World War II. Bauhaus Archiv is a snap shot of the Bauhaus school of design founded by Walter Gropius and was many years before it’s time. Within that sliver of history Bauhaus transformed Germany, Europe, and the world with art, graphic design, interior design, product design, typography and architecture.

Captain’s Blog (Chris Uran)
March 12, 2014

Berlin Day 4 – East Side Gallery, Leo Burnett & Charlottenburg Palace

Our day began with some free time, in which all students on the trip decided to visit the East Side Gallery. This is a stretch of the original Berlin Wall, approximately 1.3 km long, which was painted by 118 artists from 21 different countries in1990 . According to its website, the East Side Gallery is the “longest open air gallery in the world”. Unfortunately, the wall has been defaced a bit by additional markings and graffiti, but never the less, this sturdy wall is an inspiring piece of artwork and a great celebration of freedom.

After stoping at our apartments to change, we visited the Berlin office of Leo Burnett. Our wonderful host gave an interesting and inspiring talk about Leo’s approach on advertising. This includes advertising based on humankind, and defined on behavior. Depending upon the advertising approach chosen, a company may choose to advertise based on a promise, a product, or simply “fun”, as in the case with McDonald’s “I’m lovin’ it” slogan. Getting to know the customer, their likes and behaviors is key.

We watched a short video prepared by our host. He demonstrated the importance of building trust, and humanizing the product. He showed how Leo Burnett had simplified the product of Marlboro cigarettes, and compared product packaging between that and a competitor to showcase the differences and what drives one product to sell more than another.

We were just thrilled with the time he took to educate us, and also the interest he showed in our video presentation. After the video, he asked each student present what their goals were. He showed great interest, and also gave us tips on what he looks for in an interview.

Our already outstanding day got even better when we left Leo Burnett’s studios. We have been absolutely blessed with weather near 60 degrees and sunny all week in Berlin. We traveled to Charlottenburg Palace, which bears a stunning resemblance to the Palace of Versailles in Paris. Massive in its own right, our tour showcased elaborate ceilings, paintings, furniture, woodwork, and a stunning collection of china. We did not have time to enjoy the beautiful gardens or see the mausoleum in the back of the palace.

After touring the palace, we split as a group. While on the long walk back to the S-Bahn, part of our group got to experience more of Germany’s true culture and heritage. We walked through a neighborhood past people of varying cultures, saw a group of older neighbors playing what looked like bocci ball in the median/park area. We also stopped for a quick beverage at a neighborhood pub. Like many of the establishments in our own neighborhood, it appeared as if this pub was owned by the woman behind the bar. When she wasn’t bar-tending, she was out front pulling weeds and tidying things up. Her small bulldog “patrolled” the pub; his dog bed and toys were kept near the back. Smoking is allowed in Berlin’s bars. Our hostess did not speak much English, but Sherry showcased her German language skills and everyone in the small establishment was incredibly friendly, and also helpful when we asked for directions to the S-Bahn and Alexanderplotz. We also met Earnest, who showcased his limited English and informed us that we had just met the oldest man in Berlin. Experiencing the “real feel and culture” of Berlin was absolutely priceless.

We are looking forward to another educational and fun filled day in Berlin tomorrow! We are truly working as a team daily and bonding as a group.
-Nancy Barthuly

Berlin Day 3 – Berlin/Germany History Day

Today we visited several museums devoted to preserving Germany’s profoundly difficult past, particularly that involving National Socialism, World War II, and the Cold War.

We began the day at a site called Topography of Terror, which tells in vivid detail the disturbing tale of the rise of Nazism and Adolf Hitler, the oppression of the German people, and the Holocaust. I particularly enjoyed this museum because of the extremely organized manner in which the information is presented to guests. The exhibit is arranged in chronological fashion, beginning with the rise of the Nazis in the 1930’s and concluding with the end of World War II and its aftermath; it is further subdivided into sections by theme, each emphasizing distinct aspects of Nazism, from the agencies involved in orchestrating the terror of the Third Reich (the Gestapo, SS, and SA) to the individual groups that faced persecution from the Nazis (political opponents, Jews, Roma, homosexuals, the disabled,

etc.). Each section of the exhibit features large photographs depicting the people and events of this period, along with evidentiary documents supporting every part of the narrative; some of the photos and documents depict graphic violence, which gives the viewer an unvarnished look at what truly happened. I highly appreciated the fact that the textual information featured in the exhibit was printed in both German and English, which granted us access to every word and idea; not all of the museums we’ve visited here in Berlin are accessible to non-German speakers.

Overall, I was very impressed with the depth of the knowledge presented in this museum. As a lifelong student of history with a particular interest in this era, I’ve always wondered how Germany conceptualizes–and explains to itself–the story of Nazism. This museum offers compelling proof that the German people are committed to telling the whole story, so that its own citizens–and people all over the world—will understand what really happened here—so that this horrible history will never repeat itself.

Another wonderful museum we visited today was the DDR Museum. As a child, I remember vividly the existence of a divided Germany, with the Federal Republic of Germany in the West and the Communist-ruled Soviet satellite DDR in the East. As a fifth grader in 1989, I watched the Berlin Wall come down and later witnessed Germany’s reunification. However, I didn’t know very much at all about what it was like to live all those years behind the wall, in East Germany. The DDR Museum provides guests with a world of knowledge about what daily life was like for the average East German—and unlike most museums, it’s completely hands-on and fun, for both children and adults!

Only at this museum can you sit inside an actual Trabant, the most common car driven by East Germans, or step into a model living room of a state-owned flat and take a seat on its general-issue sofa. You can enter a Stasi prison cell and interrogation chamber, and find out how East Germans worked and played.

My favorite part was examining the limited grocery items available for East Germans; they did not have the completely stocked supermarket shelves to which we’re accustomed, with thirty different brands of peanut butter or sixty brands of cereal; they were confined to the one government-sanctioned brand, and that was it! This museum truly enables one to understand the struggles of living in a Communist society, and forces us to pause and appreciate our American capitalism!
-Jenny Petricek

Berlin Day 2 – Scavenger Hunt & Museum Island

Guten Tag from Berlin! Mrs. Asma (aka Elaine)  started our day with a delicious plate of scrambled eggs with Gouda and toast. We ventured out as a group and then split up on the U-bahn and S-bahn to begin our adventure-a scavenger hunt of the city of Berlin. Each of us had been given a detailed itinerary and began our search for historic monuments and landmarks. The first group to finish would be awarded with a prize. Nancy and Jason won by running between each destination. It was a wonderful way to get acclimated to the city, and to feel comfortable about using Berlin’s public transportation system. We stopped at Pottsdamerplatz and Alexanderplatz, and saw parts of the Berlin Wall. We had about 10 stops that took approximately two hours. We met up at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, took many photos and carried on to have a nice lunch in “Alex” (Alexanderplatz).

After a wonderful and filling meal, we proceeded to Museum Island. My classmates were wonderful and cooperative and took me directly to see the Pergamon Altar and the Ishtar Gate. How breathtaking it was to see something that is from ancient Bablyon. Everyone is enjoying the food here in Berlin, so all that hard laborious stair climbing we did and the weight we might have lost, will be added right back on. We decided to walk along Unter Den Linden to see the Brandenburg Gate. It was extremely moving to be in such a historical place. We had a nice ride back to the apartment and went to a neighborhood diner for dinner. Some of my classmates went to a Thai restaurant that they raved about, so hopefully I will get a chance to try it before we head home.
-Sherry Bigalke

Berlin Day 1 – Travel Day and Exploring Our Neighborhood

Today we were on the move. We checked out of our apartments by 8:30 am and we were on our way to the airport. There was a little mixup with our luggage where three of our bags were assigned to Jason. The flight attendants warned us that one of the bags might not make it.  We were holding our breath collectively at the baggage claim. Luckily everything came to Berlin with us.
From there, we took a taxi to our very nice apartments in Prenzlauerberg, which is a little north of the Mitte, the center of Berlin. We have an apartment for the men, and one for the women. They are across the street from each other. Sherry was anxious to try out her German on the cab driver and managed to engage him in some conversation. We are staying in the former East Berlin. You can tell by the somewhat austere architecture. Another thing that really stands out is the amount of graffiti everywhere. Our street is just covered with it, and some of it is really beautiful.

After we got settled, we set out to explore our area. We found a Polish restaurant and had a very delicious, but heavy meal of dumplings, potato pancakes, goulash and meatballs. We had to grocery shop tonight, because we were told that nothing is open on Sunday. We had a low key evening in our new apartments, working on the blog and reviewing  German phrases.
-Elaine Asma

Paris Day 7 – Day Trip to Disneyland Paris

Bonjour from Paris! March 7, 2014. The purpose of our visit to Disney was to learn about American marketing in Paris. We were curious to learn how an American company became successful in France. A marketing talk from Disney administrators proved to be impossible even after multiple requests from our instructors. But, we were able to learn about the animation team at Disney and even had a lesson in drawing Winnie the Pooh.

We saw some antique animation equipment and realized how far we have advanced in technology. Parisian students were on spring break so the park was crowded. We managed to enjoy four rides. As you can see in the photo of my classmates and I on the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, it lives up to its name. We also took a ride on Space Mountain 2, which was 200  times scarier than the original Space Mountain in Orlando, Florida.

Did you know that in order to work at Disney you must speak at least two languages, one of them being English? Our bus guide was very friendly and spoke with us after our arrival about Disney and the workplace. She spoke four languages, and also tried to help us get in to visit the marketing department. We heard so many different languages being spoken, and being there felt like we were back at home. When we tried to speak French, the Parisians appreciated it and were very nice. I realized that if you give a little effort to try and speak the language, the Parisians were more than willing to help me and respond in English. I would also like to add that my classmate, Greg, enjoyed his very first ride on the “It’s a Small World”.

-Sherry Bigalke

Paris Day 6 – Day Trip to Versailles

Today the group spent the entire day at Chateau de Versailles, which was, in my opinion, the best historical site we’ve visited up to this point in our journey.

The palace is one of France’s most significant national treasures. Constructed as a humble hunting lodge in 1624 at the order of King Louis VII, multiple generations of Bourbon monarchs added to and improved the chateau and surrounding lands, until it became the largest and most opulent royal residence in Europe. For nearly two centuries, Versailles served as the primary symbol of the French monarchy, and it has played host to many of the country’s most important historical moments, even in modern times.

Immediately after entering the chateau, I knew I was in a place unlike any other. Certainly there is nowhere in the United States that even comes close! All of the chambers inhabited by the royal family have been restored to their original splendor, complete with original paintings, wall and ceiling murals, tapestries, sculptures, furniture, and other décor. The most striking characteristic of the castle is the sheer amount of gold that visitors see everywhere they look, from floor to ceiling, inside and out. Nearly all of the woodwork and ornamentation on the walls and ceilings, as well as items such as clocks and chandeliers, are delicately covered in gold leafing and paint.

My favorite chamber in the chateau is definitely the Hall of Mirrors. Not only is it breathtakingly gorgeous, but it has also played an important role in world events—and my own family history! In 1919, at the close of the Paris Peace Conference at Versailles, delegates from dozens of nations signed the five peace treaties that brought World War I to an end. In placing pen to paper, the representatives, which included the American president Woodrow Wilson, were confident that the treaty would lead to lasting peace in Europe. Unfortunately, this was not to be; the terms of the treaty, which placed a great burden of blame on Germany, arguably led to the rise of Nazism and Adolf Hitler a generation later. In 1944, seventy years ago this spring, my maternal grandfather, a tech sergeant in the U.S. Army, found himself on a beach in Normandy, participating in one of the greatest military actions of all time—and liberating this country, France, from the tyranny of the Nazis. The Treaty of Versailles, signed in the Hall of Mirrors just two years prior to his birth, paved the way for World War II and sealed his fate, along with that of hundreds of thousands of other American soldiers who arrived on this continent to defend the cause of freedom. It is indeed awe-inspiring to stand in a place of such deep historical magnitude, not just for me, but for all of the world.
-Jenny Petricek

Paris Day 5 – Mar. 5 – Pere La Chaise, Museum of Decorative Arts, D’Orsay and Pompidou

We all met in the morning at around 8:30 in the court yard in between all of our apartments. We headed to the metro station to catch the train to our first destination of the day which happened to be Pere La Chaise Cemetery. The cemetery is the most well known cemetery in the city of Paris. It spreads 110 acres and holds a great variety of individuals from various times. There are many famous people that have been laid to rest in the cemetery, the most notable for most of us is Jim Morison.

After spending a few hours walking around the cemetery, taking lots of photos and really just absorbing the beauty of the cemetery, it was time for us to head back to our meeting spot and move on to the next activity of the day. We all were starving so we found a restaurant that was close- and it just happened to be a Mc Donald’s. It was something familiar to all of us  so we were interested in trying it out. I noticed that they did make quite a few changes to what we have in the States to market to the French culture. A few adjustments that I noticed were that they offered 2 types of fries, one which was what we know as Mc Donald’s fries and potato wedges. The also offered a burger on a bagel. I found this very interesting so I had to give it a try. It was the best Mc Donald’s burger I have ever had. ( I really don’t care for Mc Donald’s)

After the quick stop to Mc D’s we headed to our next destination which was the Museum of Decorative Arts. This museum was more of a modern museum and all of us really enjoyed the advertising/ graphics typography section. It had a lot of modern layouts that were really inspiring to look at. Most of the collection was from the last 20 years. so we all could really relate to the style of the artwork.

After we where finished with our tour at Museum of Decorative Arts, we were able to make our way in groups on our own. We already knew that we would like to get back on the bus tour to see the few stops that we were unable to see the night before. We decided to take the bus to the D’Orsay because it was not included in our itinerary and we all wanted to go see the very famous artists we all grew up learning about.

We were all very surprised at the amount of famous artists that they had in the museum  and the collections that they possessed. We saw artists such as Monet, Manet, Degas, and Van Gogh. We only had a short amount of time in the museum and then we had to get back on the bus to head to our final museum destination of the night- the Pompidou.
-Nicole Rugen

The Pompidou Museum wears its skeleton on the outside, with tubes and structures color- coded to denote their function — blue for air conditioning, green for plumbing, yellow for electricity, red for elevators. The building is very architecturally interesting. They have an escalator system that is mounted outside the museum that allows for great views of the city and the streets below. The Pompidou Centre offers a huge variety of contemporary Multimedia experiences, sculptures and paintings. We visited the Level 5, which is devoted to modern art from 1905 to 1960, including major works by Matisse, Modigliani, Marcel Duchamp, and Picasso. We were at the Museum for about 2 hours. A number of pieces in the exhibits included “Typography” themed artwork. The colors used in the artwork was striking and visually stimulating. Visiting the Pompidou was a great contrast to the classical museums that we had visited earlier in the week.
-John Mizer

Paris Day 4 – Catacombs, Le Precope, Boat Ride and the Eiffel Tower

March 4, 2014
Today we visited the Paris Catacombs. The quarrying of limestone, which was then used to build the city above, created these hollow cavities under the city, creating the Catacombs. In the 1700’s, the city’s graveyards were overflowing so they took the bones of 6 million Parisians and placed them in the tunnels and caverns.

After a 45-minute wait in line we started down the winding staircase to the dark and damp passages. We walked for about 10 minutes before we reached a sign that read, “ARRETE! CEST ICI L’EMPIRE DE LA MORT,” which means, “STOP! THIS IS THE EMPIRE OF DEATH.” Once we entered through this doorway we found bones stacked from the ceiling to the floor. The stacks of bones had a facade of femurs and skulls. Behind the facade was a mixture of the rest of the bones. The feeling was awfully creepy and I found it hard to breathe. After 45 minutes, the tour was finished. There was a nice souvenir shop across the street from the exit that sold items related to the Catacombs and Paris.
– Jason Lopez

After the Catacombs, we checked back into our apartment and again navigated the subway. We are developing great skills in map reading and following the correct signage, as well as traveling and working together as a team. We traveled to Le Precope Restaurant, which has been in continuous operation since 1686. The staff was waiting for us and treated us very well. The food was delicious, although what stood out was Jason’s seafood platter: crab, prawns, lobster, and shrimp on ice. We never thought he would get through the dish, but he finished almost all of it. The deserts were truly a treat, and we enjoyed sitting and resting while we were served this delicious food. The decor was of the period. Historic photographs, coins and antiques decorated the restaurant.

After the restaurant, we headed off to our evening boat tour, and enjoyed the sunset on the Siene River. It was truly breathtaking to see the amazing architecture, including museums, apartment buildings, government buildings and bridges as we cruised along. The age of the city shows in its beautiful buildings; it is a work of art. We will have some outstanding photographs to share from the trip. Our group is sharing photography tips and skills. We also saw the Eiffel sparkling with lights in the evening as we enjoyed the water.

After exiting our boat tour, we walked under the Eiffel tower. The size and stature of the piece is truly a wonder. Gustav Eiffel, the engineer, was also the designer for the Statue of Liberty. The construction standards in place in 1887 make the feat even more amazing. Continuous renovations keep the tower modern.

Everyone headed to the top of the tower. The history of the tower is visible in photographs and text around the first and top floors of the tower. After our visit, we walked a short distance to take a group picture. There we met a group of young women from Pennsylvania, who were also studying abroad. We visited a bit, and they took the photograph for us.

An outstanding day; educational and fun. We have a great group of students and teachers, working together as a team.
-Nancy Barthuly