NYU Berlin changed me. I remember how I was before I got there: unaware of what the future held and uncertain of my new environment.
I went to NYU Berlin to continue to learn German, this time through cultural immersion. My ultimate goal was to read the philosophical works I was so preoccupied with in their original German; how can you beat that? I also took an English-language course on Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud. Studying these thinkers in Germany was a truly unparalleled experience.
At first, even though I was doing everything I had gone to Berlin to do, I still felt like an outsider in a foreign environment. It wasn’t until I made an important connection between German and American history that I began to feel more comfortable. The German people put great care and effort into understanding the atrocities of their past. In the United States, though, we just keep moving forward without reflection and at the expense of forgetting our roots.
There is a huge emphasis in Berlin (and Germany, more broadly) on reflecting upon the past to see what lessons can be learned. I consider myself a reflective person, so learning about this focus meant that I was able to see myself in the German culture and the German culture in myself. Both on my own and with NYU, I explored the city looking for the reflections and the lessons, and I began to feel unified with its customs and people. My love for Berlin, my new home, was crystallized.
It is this instant immersion in and gradual understanding of a foreign environment that I think back on most often for a variety of reasons. Most important, though, is that I arrived in Berlin with no inkling of what my future held, and, to be honest, I left Berlin feeling quite similarly. The difference, however, is that I left knowing myself a bit better, which allows me to face the future with confidence and vigor.