There’s this feeling that everyone is going somewhere.  The Americans have all already gone, to snow, to sunshine, to familiarity.  One by one, the Spanish and Danish and Italian and Swiss students head off home for a break, leaving the ones who are too far away to just pop home.  Up till last week, you could bump into anyone in college, now it’s like a ghost town, just those people swotting in the library, trying to finish up the last of their hausarbeite.  But there’s a camaraderie among those left here, they stay closer together now that there are fewer foreign students. People offer to dig each other out,  get together for going-away parties, turn up to help others move apartments.

There’s also the feeling of being at a sort of crossroads, of not knowing what is going to happen next Semester.  Unlike UCD (where you organise everything at the start of the year), here you only pick your second Semester choices at the beginning of April.  I can go searching now to pick what I’d like, though I know I want to do the follow-up courses in Anthropology and Ethnography, with the same lecturers/tutors. Psychology is the tricky one; I want to choose a course that has no exam this time, just written work and presentations.  When I began this year, I had never done a presentation alone, just one group presentation in a very supportive UCD class. The first one gave me sleepless nights, and it was way too long, had much too much text, and, because I was under pressure of time, I spoke too fast. By the time I did my fifth presentation, it didn’t bother me if I made a mistake, if the technology broke down, if it wasn’t perfect, I’d learned to stop worrying about it, which is key. After doing all of them, I realise that you learn loads from them, in terms of researching them, though I never had to submit a written script or bibliography.

Other than these, I have been recommended by two different people to look up a course in Humboldt University called “The topography of sexuality”.  I’m not sure if this is a neo-Freudian psychoanalytic course – they still think he’s grand here, whereas in Ireland, mentioning Freud in psychology is like saying you still believe in Limbo. I want the opportunity to study in Humboldt anyhow – they encourage you to take classes in any of the other Universities, though I can’t imagine the Technical University has anything I would fancy.  Humboldt was on the East side of Berlin during the cold war, it’s a much older University, established in 1810 by Wilhelm and Alexander von Humboldt.  Freie University was founded in 1949, with backing from the USA, and although it is an exceptionally good university, I want the experience of trying the older model (which I may indeed find is less conservative).  I also want to go to a university that is in the city centre, to feel as if I am really studying in Berlin.  Freie has in common with UCD the feature of being out in the boonies, in safe old leafy suburbia, where they have all the facilities you will ever need, and none of the politics or protests. I don’t imagine Humboldt has much politics or protests either, but at least I can walk on Rudi Dutschke Straße (assassinated 1960’s student leader), or Rosa Luxembourg Platz (Marxist 1919 Revolutionary shot by government agents) or even Hannah Arendt Straße (political theorist and thinker).  Something I hadn’t even considered until this minute is that there is another wonderful library there, where I am quite sure I’ll run up a few fines (though here they are a great deal more merciful than UCD).

Advertisements