I Went Traveling!

Mitch Peiffer University of Aberdeen, Scotland


April 24, 2017

These past two weeks, I was traveling! I got to see Berlin, a place I’ve been wanting to go since I started learning German in high school, and Prague, a wonderful city with lots of history, lots of culture, and lots of amazing sights to see! I had a wonderful time!

In Germany, I got to learn more about the history of the Berlin Wall. I enjoyed hearing about it from all the museums and historical checkpoints in the city. I enjoyed the cold war history museum called the black box, a building across the intersection from the Checkpoint Charlie location. It had interactive, video and text displays teaching about cold war events and how Berlin was affected through it all. I got to practice speaking German to people as well, which I loved! Brandenburger Tor, the Fersensturm, the Reichstag, and others. I even got to take a ferry trip up and down the river, with a tour guide telling us about each part of the city as we passed by. Something that I did in Berlin that was especially cool was I got to attend an Easter Sunday mass in a German church. I didn’t understand everything that the priest said, but I was able to follow the general stream of events. I was a wonderful experience, the building was PACKED, there weren’t even enough seats for everyone!

Prague was likewise amazing, although I didn’t get to spend as much time in that city as I did in Berlin. The city of Prague has a ton of history, that I really enjoyed learning about. They were a central location for the Hussite rebellion against the Catholic church, one of the great schisms in Christianity, as well as the site for multiple defenestrations, which were the cause of great wars throughout Europe. The city of Prague boasts the oldest working astrological clock tower in the world, near old town square in the center of the city. It also has a huge cathedral in the castle complex of the city on top of a hill, where tourists can climb to see the entire city - a wonderful view of everything! Prague has some modern history as well: they were under the rule of the USSR during the cold war. The museum of communism in the city educates people about how the Soviets oppressed the local population and suppressed free speech and political activism, which at some points included rolling tanks through the central square of the city and using them against civilians. All this, while the Soviets forced economic policies onto the nation that reduced its economy essentially to the barter system. It took decades and multiple public suicides by burning in protest, until, in 1989, near the end of the USSR’s life cycle, a huge uprising known as the Velvet Revolution in Prague successfully kicked the Soviets out of the Czech nation. Because of this more recent part of dark history, recent enough that people are still alive to talk about it, displaying a Soviet flag in Prague will often prompt even more anger than displaying a Nazi flag. As my tour guide described it: “an old lady will probably walk up, slap you, and start yelling at you.”

After Prague, I had a long trip back. It began with three different trains from Prague to Berlin, one of which was overnight. This was just the simplest way to make sure I got to my plane on time, which I did. After flying back to Glasgow, I had some free time, so I wandered around the city and sat down in the central square to relax. I had seen Glasgow before, but I hadn’t seen it after 20 hours of continuous travel. Hearing the Scottish accents around me, which I had come to miss a little, felt like heaven. From Glasgow, I had a train back up to Aberdeen, then back to my dorm to sleep after a very tiring journey.

It feels good to be back, and now, I have a few days to relax before review week starts, and then exams. Wish me luck!



Scotland Semester Travel