Isabelle's trip diary
On Friday the 23rd of November, a selection of Sixth Form students from Royal Wootton Bassett Academy excitedly awaited the arrival of the coach which would take them to Bristol Airport and, subsequently, to Sch?nefeld Airport in Berlin. At the beginning of the school term, German speaking students voiced their enthusiasm about a trip to Germany and when it was announced it was possible to go to Berlin, many other subject areas were extremely keen too. Not only can Berlin help those studying German, but it caters for those who study history, philosophy and ethics, as well as travel and tourism. After a smooth flight, we arrived, on Friday evening and used the public transport to make our way to the hotel.
After a comfortable night at Aletto youth hotel, in South Berlin, we walked to the U-Bahn (underground train) in order to board a train that took us to our first destination: Brandenburg Gate. This is perhaps one of the most iconic pieces of architecture in Germany, if not the World, and was of particular interest to those studying history, due to its link to the Berlin Wall. Secondly, we visited ‘Bundestag’ (the German Parliament building) and we participated in an audio tour around the transparent dome at the top, this was a brilliant introduction to Berlin. Next, already familiar with the punctual and clean public transport system, we travelled for about an hour by S-Bahn (over ground train) to Sachsenhausen, in Oranienburg. This visit was poignant for those studying not only history but philosophy and ethics, since Sachsenhausen used to be a concentration camp. We were given a two hour tour which was emotive and learning these aspects of history was interesting from a different perspective. It was quite chilling to be where such events occurred and we all learned something new. The over-ground train took us to visit a holocaust memorial later on in the day. Philosophy and ethics student, Lucy Eales, said ‘I found the Holocaust Memorial very moving and interesting’.
On the third day, after a sizeable breakfast, we walked to the Jewish Museum. Inside, there was a visual interpretation of what it was like to be Jewish during the Holocaust. We then visited Check Point Charlie and the Typography of Terrors, which was a focus for history pupils, but soon became an interest for the other students too. The trip, which included 16 year 12 students, 3 year 13 students and was led by Ms Aston and Mrs Kingshott, was also memorable because during the trip, everyone became interested in all subject areas. Plus, we were all trying to speak German by the end of it. Kat Gauger, a philosophy and ethics student, said ‘It was really good fun and everyone got on well’.
After another busy day, we got yet another train to Alexanderplatz, where they were setting up Christmas markets. The markets were due to open the following day and this was very exciting as there was a buzz of Christmas. Many of the students were looking forward to trying the ‘Currywurst’ and ‘Bratwurst’ (sausage). Joe Paish, a history student, said ‘I was eating at least three sausages each day.’
On the final day, we visited the History of Berlin museum which underpinned our learning about Berlin for the entire trip. As part of the museum, we entered an atomic bunker. After this, we spent the rest of the day darting between Weihnachtsmarkt or Christmas markets! For many students they were a highlight, including Marcus Sturla, who described them as ‘magical’. When night fell and the markets were illuminated by the Christmas lights, it was beautiful. However, sadly it had to end. We reversed our journey, departing from Sch?nefeld airport, back to Bristol Airport and arriving back at Royal Wootton Bassett Academy at midnight. We were all thankful for the extra hour we gained due to the different time zones.
Would we go back to Berlin? Yes, definitely. Although we had a pretty good go of trying to see everything, you could spend a week there and not discover everything. The fantastic public transport makes all the sights easily accessible and we would love to visit Berlin again. Berlin has a character that is unlike anywhere we have ever been before and not only did we have an amazing time, we learned so much from actually experiencing it, which will definitely be beneficial back in the classroom.
Year 12 German student
One of the staff who travelled on the trip also commented:
"An excellent programme of events, carefully planned and considered. The sequential build up of information was very good. It enabled the students to gain a real insight to the complex city of Berlin, expecially if you are taking a cross-curricular group. The Germanists, historians, students studying RE and Travel were all able to extract a wealth of information and experience. Travel was easy, the sights fantastic and the Berlin 'experience' memorable. The information pack supplied by Halsbury was great. Would recommend the trip to anyone wishing to see and do as much as is possible in a long weekend. I think the experience has captivated the students' imagination. They cannot stop talking about it."
We agree with Isabelle, Berlin is one of our favourite cities offering something for all ages and areas of study and the fantastic public transport system makes it very easy to get around, which is ideal for a school group.