East Berlin University

Trip Start Aug 16, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of France  , Provence,
Monday, August 23, 2010

So as some of you were probably able to guess the University was not quite what any of us here had envisioned. Sorry for the 80's reference.  When we walked into the university for the first time, my first comment to those standing by me was "University of Bagdad".  OK it’s not that bad, but the buildings could definitely use some repairs and a fresh paint job.  So those of you complaining about budget cuts and old buildings need to realize how good we have it in the U.S.  Most of the classrooms don’t even have air-conditioning.  In fact lots of places here don’t have air-conditioning, having it in almost every room of every building everywhere is an American luxury.  Here if it’s hot you open a window.  I’ve heard that it’s due to budget problems here as well, and this is supposedly one of the best universities in France.  But I digress, back to griping.  So after our orientation, Angelica, Tiffany and I went exploring to see more of our campus.  I wanted to find the theatre in particular.  We stole some planners from the office and tried to find our way using the maps inside.  We couldn’t figure out where we were, despite the useful “you are here dot on the map”.  Unfortunately, this was not the Marauders’ Map, (Yes a Harry Potter reference, don’t be a hater), and the dot didn’t move to where we were.  We tried asking a girl passing by after a minute of her looking at our map and being unable to figure out where we were she asked the guy that had come up to meet her and was waiting for her while she helped us.  He looked at it for a second and then pointed at the top of the map where it was labeled Universite de Marseille.  We felt a little stupid for not having noticed that before, but I don’t know why they had a map of another school in their schools planner.  Besides I think that girl should feel worse considering she didn’t recognize a map of her own universite.

So after finding the correct map we went looking for the theatre.  After seeing the sign for the theatre, (which was missing a few letters), I was pretty worried, especially when right behind it there was what was essentially a mobile home with the theatre’s name on it.  I almost cried when I thought their theatre was in a mobile home.  Luckily it wasn’t, but we weren’t able to get inside that part of the building to see it up close.  We did find a few auditoriums with some graffiti that looked like a remnant of the cold war era.  The walls, notice boards and desks were often covered in posters, graffiti and stickers.  Not that most college campuses don’t have that but this seemed like more than any campus that I have yet been to.  We found an empty unlocked auditorium and chilled in there for a while.  The acoustics were really good so we sang Bohemian Rhapsody and had an impromptu drum session which had an unplanned perfectly synchronized ending.  It was pretty cool, total mind meld moment.

After wandering some more and seeing more of the campus and finding some truly frightening bathrooms, we walked back to the center of town.  We grabbed some sandwiches and chilled on the grass in front of the tourist office for a while and people watched and reflected on our strange campus.  I guess I need to stay prepared for anything, because nothing here ceases to surprise me. 
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