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Gilman International Scholarship for Undergraduate Study Abroad


Rutgers University Phi Sigma Iota Merit Scholarship
Charlotte Triggs is our Fourth Annual Rutgers PHI SIGMA IOTA Merit Scholarship Winner for 2004. Here is a report that she has filed from Berlin, Germany.


I heard a lot of interesting things about Berlin before I came here. A
friend who studied here over the summer told me it was a dirty,
industrialized wasteland (he spent his entire time in the Turkish
neighborhood right next to an airport). Others wondered why I would want to
spend a winter in Berlin, which sits at about the same latitude as London.
Even Matt Damon said in an interview that filming in Berlin in the winter
messes with your mindset, and gets very depressing (The Bourne Identity's
depiction of Berlin makes it look like a less friendly place than even

But there is something about Berlin that makes it infinitely more
interesting than other West European cities. London and Paris are so
expensive and overdeveloped that it is hard to imagine students being able
to actually live there. Berlin, which of course has a particularly strange
history of both capitalism and communism, is an interesting case. Unlike
Prague, which has been utterly destroyed by tourists who think they are the
first ones to discover the gothic masterpiece of a city, Berlin has
relatively few tourists. I guess when people think of Berlin they think
it's a "been there, done that" Western European capital.

I live in a little apartment next to what used to be the border. Walking to
the beautiful Kollwitzplatz farmer's market on Saturday mornings, I hop
over the little strip that says "Berliner Mauer 1961-1989" up to four times
in one day. The newspapers over here constantly talk about the "Mauer im
Kopf" problem - the wall is gone, but the borders still exist. I would
agree with that. There are two Schlecker pharmacies within 2 blocks of this
border, and each one has their own neighborhood business. Cross Bernauer
Strasse to the north (West) and you have modern buildings and huge
supermarkets. South of Bernauer (East), renovated buildings in the old
Berlin courtyard style stand next to crumbling ones. But as I have
discovered, everything cool is in East Berlin.

There are amazing café bars all throughout my favorite neighborhood,
Prenzlauer Berg. Walk up Rosenthaler Strasse from the touristy Hackescher
Markt and you might stumble upon a makeshift bar, serving 1 euro 50 wine
outside in a gazebo to a mixes of techno and Brazilian music. Socialist
nostalgia cafes abound on Kastanien Allee, names like Café Gorki with a
menu for the "proletariat" and Morgen Rot (Morning Red) with DDR propaganda
posters are not uncommon. On Sundays lazy Berliners go for immense
breakfasts at 11am at Schwarz Sauer, then to evening erotic poetry readings
at "An einem Schoenen Sonntag in August" ("On a nice Sunday in August", and
yes the entire phrase is written on the sign).

You can leave out the beer for me; I'll take the German candy. It is never
just strawberry, cherry, or grape flavor here. No way. Everything here is
apricot, pear, red currant, or plum. They have no sour peach rings in
Germany, but Sour Red Currants. Yogurts are not just blueberry or
strawberry, but Cinnamon-Plum, or Rhubarb-Vanilla. And they even have
candies celebrating Germany's most popular non-alcoholic drink,
Apfelschorle (sparkling apple juice). Why is this so interesting to note? I
don't know, but it seems to show what Germany (and Berlin) is like -
familiar but exotic.


Application Information
Download Application
The application consists of: the above form; a brief essay; an official copy of the current Rutgers transcript; and two letters of recommendation from language faculty, at least one of which must address the question of competency in the target language. All materials should be submitted to Prof. Phyllis Zatlin; Rutgers, the State University; Dept. of Spanish & Portuguese; Carpender Hall - DC; 105 George St.; New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1414.

Deadline is 5 March 2005.





modified 10/20/04