Spring is officially trying to roll around and with each passing day I can see the sun trying to claw through the clouds of winter. Now, I don't really mind how quickly spring gets here. The weather is ridiculously mild in the UK (especially considering how well-renowned the Brits are for their complaints about weather). So I'm enjoying my mild, often overcast days while they still exist. And having a mild panic attack whenever I think about my looming first winter in New York. Because, hello- I'm from California and have lived in the south of England for 4 years, with my past 8 years being coastal living. .... I might die.
But anyway, I digress.
I am happy to say that Ben and I officially have our wedding party together, as well as our officiate! Although we are not planning too much at the moment, we both thought it important tell our bridal/ grooms party and officiate early as we are asking for a lot of help from them early on and many of them will have to travel. I am excited!!!!
And yet, I must not be excited because I need to finish this thesis (this stupid thesis that is ruining my life) and adding literally any other stress-inducing thought into my brain is far too overwhelming. For real. Everyone who I know that has done a science PhD has felt this way.
Ben and I also took a trip to Berlin at the beginning of this month, a delayed multi-birthday present to me! It was AMAZING. The best part about Berlin is that you get the benefits of a big city (amazing food, rich history, wonderful museums, culture) without the downsides of big cities (tourist shops/traps, "rude" people, dirtiness, increased crime, having to hunt for true culture because tourism has masked it). I mean, of course there are tourist shops and tourist traps (I'm looking at you, Checkpoint Charlie) but not on the same scale as I've experienced in other European cities. Here are some picture highlights:
Ok, so I just bashed tourist traps and here is a picture of a tourist shop all about Berlin's famous stop/go crosswalk guys
Berliner Dom with TV tower in background
Currywurst stall and Trabis!
Brandenburg Gate (which is super sassy because it mocks the French for being able to take back their statues after Napoleon took them. Love that sass)
East Berlin propaganda
East Side Gallery
Ich mag Bier
View from the TV Tower
Gun shot holes in the base of a statue near Tiergarten
Remaining fragments of the wall
Remaining wall over Topography of Terrors (SS and Gestapo headquarters)
And I'd like to say something about travel and why it is so important, because Berlin is a fantastic example. Many people think travel is unimportant, or that its not worth the expense, or that a vacation should be at a spa getting pampered/ sitting by a pool. Well, to all those people, you are wrong. Sure, relax if you want that. But experiencing other cultures first hand and learning about other peoples' experiences and life are extremely important. In Berlin, I learned a great deal about German history. History that I never learned in school. Certainly, the Germans dropped the ball with the whole World Wars thing. It was horrible and brutal. And the Germans are the first to admit that. However, WHY it happened is almost never taught. And it is the WHY that we as a society need to understand in order to ensure a second Hitler can't rise to power. You can't get this hands-on learning while sitting at home. You can't. You cannot appreciate the rift that the Berlin Wall put between the West and East, or what it was like to live in Communist-run Berlin. The tearing down of the Berlin Wall means so much more when you are seeing it, learning about why it was built in the first place, hearing about the trials of those who were separated by it, or seeing the remnants of a city-wide celebration of it being torn down. I'm sure there will be at least one person who reads this paragraph and thinks "She's stupid" or even worse "I don't care", so let me paint it in a different light. You CAN NOT understand the overwhelming sadness and despair of the Holocaust without visiting a concentration camp, such as Dachau. And even that doesn't come close to those who experienced it first hand. But visiting the site instils a deep appreciation for the victims. These experiences leave a mark. These experiences, only available through travel, are important. And I think everyone should strive to experience them. Obviously I'm not saying only go looking for the sad. But travel to learn and experience, and don't ignore important aspects of the past just because it was unpleasant. You will truly be doing yourself a disservice.
...Well, that got heavy really fast, didn't it?
So, I'd like to finish off with two things. First, we recently went to a concert to see Luke Sital-Singh in concert and (we've seen him 3 times now) he was amazing. If you're interested, check out his music. I'm partial to Bottled Up Tight.
Second, I'd like to leave you a picture of an art instillation for Whale Watch Brighton. Yeah, its a bit morbid with the crosses, but... you know.... ORCAS!