School Architecture

As we were wandering all over town in our first week here, looking for a high school for Emma, we saw lots of different schools. At least in the urban core, it’s noticeable that many of them (still) are housed in buildings that have a touch of imperialism, i.e. having been constructed in the late…

Riding to the end of the Line: Erkner

Okay, I’ve gone back out on the end-of-the-line trail or, well, train. This time, TD joined me and we headed to Erkner on the S3. The line is not unfamiliar as Köpenick is one of the stops, home to FC Union’s Stadion an der Alten Försterei. And, to be honest, we didn’t quite make it…

Local History in Marzahn

The Berlin boroughs also maintain local history museums. I went to visit the Bezirksmuseum Mahrzahn-Hellersdorf, in part because I was intrigued by a special exhibit they were running on coffee and design in East Germany. That exhibit was small, but a delight, really nicely presented, but the museum also had a permanent exhibit of local…

Groundhopping VI

So, I jumped past 100 posts on this blog and suddenly I was out of breath? Or, out of topics? No, not really, but with the Berlin summer term in full swing again and teaching a class at FU and a class at HU, I just haven’t been posting… But then, the prodigal son arrived…

So Very Close to Hockey Glory

A beautiful late May evening. We’re playing on a pitch that’s wedged between a power plant and the city freeway, lovely. Tillman has come along to watch the old guys. But, we’re having a great game. The defence is really clicking. After the other team came running at us for the first half, we’ve settled…

Rocking the History Revolution

As some colleagues who have visited recently know, I like a walking route through downtown Berlin that I call the “seats of power”. It is all about the layers of imperial, National Socialist, divided Berlin, and unified Berlin history that can be traced with a “nice, easy walk” of no more than three hours. Das…

Omnipresent History

Some weeks ago, I wrote about the Stolpersteine commemorative project. However, this is not the only project that makes history very visible in Berlin daily life – if you’re willing to look for  it. While I remember that historical and historiographical debates were very present in 1980s Berlin, now the city is dotted with markers…

New Useful Words

German is evolving, of course. That means there are new expressions, some of which are used often and are very efficient for expressing particular meanings. I’ve written about Smith’s cat, youth-speak expressions and the evolution of forms of address. Here are some specifics expressions that were new to me and that I hear somewhat regularly:…

Kids’ Names

When the girls have been reporting on kids’ names in their respective classes, this has been somewhat surprising. Less of a surprise that there are several “foreign-sounding” names, esp. at E’s school where the share of “children with a migrant background”is around 40%. But in general, the set of names has completely shifted from my…

There is so much… high culture music

Berlin offers so much in terms of high culture. Sometimes I feel like one billboard in the subway advertises more classical concerts than Vancouver sees in a whole year. And, not only is there so much culture, but it ranges from the world class (we saw Zubin Mehta conduct the Berlin Philharmonic), to the plain…

Groundhopping V

It may turn into a magical football year in Berlin. In mid-March, Hertha is on track for Europa League qualification, Potsdam leads the women’s league, and I got to watch Union beat Nürnberg to take the lead in Div 2 of the Bundesliga, hopefully on track for promotion to the first division. My first visit…

Silence of Concrete Houses

Both the apartments in Berlin are in buildings of the traditional Berlin height. Naturally, they are brick/concrete constructions. Even though both apartments are downtown, very few traffic noises reach the inside, it’s very peaceful. This, even though the first apartment looked out over very busy train tracks, and the second apartment is in a major…