Die Bärliner - The Bard College Berlin Student Blog
Student Activities

Sarah Hirsch acts as a birthday girl with no guests at her party, forcing audience members to dance with her. (Credit: Vera Yung)

On Thursday, March 8th, the Emancipe Initiative’s interactive puppet play, “The Puppet Show: An Inquiry”, premiered on campus in the Factory gallery space. This initiative, pioneered by first-year EPST student Danny Dubner, and co-lead by academic year student Sara De Monchy, was an opportunity for members of Bard College Berlin to experience non-formal educational practices and engage in a discussion about them. This was only the first instalment of the initiative; it will have more events on campus that involve “philosophy, politics, art and their intersections.”

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View from Blithewood Garden on Bard College Campus featuring Annie Swett (EPST 2019) and Nancy Stanley (HAST 2019) (Credit: Emma Jacoby)

Studying abroad for one year at two separate institutions on two continents has been and will be exhausting but beautiful. The decision you made to spend two semesters in two separate locations was not taken lightly. After two years at BCB, you probably did know everyone and had taken classes across several concentrations; it was normal that you felt a little restless. You and most of your friends consequently decided to study abroad at BGIA, CEU, Bard, Lingnan, Sciences Po — and for two semesters instead of just one. Silly as it may seem, if you were considering spending those two semesters at two institutions, you realized it would be a good idea to come up with a kurz und knackig (short and sweet) introduction to your life. Even before coming to upstate New York, you’d been asked which state in the US you were from countless times. So your spiel was to establish that you were a German-but-international student from an undergraduate program at Bard College Berlin who has lived in places like Bangladesh and Georgia, yet always ended up at English-speaking international schools where picking up an American accent proved to be surprisingly easy (and franky unavoidable).

Your time at Bard during the Fall Semester began with an unexciting eleven-hour layover in Dublin, one that was made even more unpleasant than usual by the cold you had caught just twelve hours before your flight. After that fiasco of an airport experience, you would not recommend that particular AerLingus connection to future study abroad students.  Thankfully, things definitely picked up for you from there. Insider information about airlines or cafeteria food is something you’ve always appreciated in reflections about academic experiences when making big decisions, such as where to go to college or study abroad. You hope that your reflection, through the sharing of some of your unprofessional opinions on Bard and CEU, might be helpful to others in the middle of filling out their study abroad forms.

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Artwork by ODIOUS collective in Südgelände park (Credit: Liza Ostrovska)

Google weather confirms: It’s been there for the past three days. Im-pos-sib-le. But look, it’s there, caught in the roof tiles of the Treskowstrasse 25 front building: There. Now do you believe me? It’s been there all along:

The February sun.

Have you noticed? As our studies resume, the world around us takes on a peculiar character. Our world starts to suffer from mysterious distortions. The difference between Platanen- and Eichenstrasse appears to be in the number of minutes it takes to transport oneself from Cafeteria to Lecture Hall, from Lecture Hall to the Iderfenngraben tram stop. The world around us suffers from puzzling distortions so that the only voices we begin to pay any heed to are those of Gospels, Critiques, Confessions, beckoning from the reading room and all agreeing on the same point: set the alarm for 6:45, latest. Well, I do. But in the morning, the M1 takes me away from academics, in the direction opposite the Reading room: time to reclaim the world and hit the (rail)road.

On the S2-nach-Lichtenrade, I resist the urge to pull out the latest reading assignment and resolve to count stations instead. Fumes of cars vibrating in the frosty air, Garten-Kolonies, bare branches of Humboldthain — and that’s it, the S2-nach-Lichtenrade, way too loud for the city center, is swallowed by the dark tunnel of Nordbahnhof. A few (fives of) minutes in the underground limbo, and I find myself facing the gate of the world far beyond the Reading room, more commonly known as Naturpark Schöneberger Südgelände.

Read on to find out what was lost on BCB campus and found again in a former industrial area.

Tea is served (Credit: Flickr)

We’ll never know just how much we don’t know. To remedy our ignorance as best we can, we have decided to mine the wealth of knowledge held in the collective psyche of the student body and present it here in a new podcast series, “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know.” In today’s episode, Brenna O’Brien tells us a little bit about Japanese tea ceremony, which she studied for over 6 years both in her home of New Mexico and later in Japan.

Songs used:

  1. “Tea for Two” by Doris Day
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Brazil 1, Germany 7 (Credit: The Telegraph)

To all new students: welcome to Berlin. As you make your way through the city, you will hopefully immerse yourself in the endless exhibitions and concerts, wide-ranging festivals celebrating all things from film to butter, engaging street art, striking museums adorned with (not uncommonly) stolen artefacts, shabby clubs that will reject you thrice in a row, and countless döner places that will have you believing döner is as much a part of the German cuisine as a schnitzel. At this point, it just might be. Many things in Berlin will enchant you, but it is only fair to warn you that there is also an adaptation period (which I have affectionately nicknamed my existence here thus far) that most non-Berliners will have to face.

Coming from Brazil, I don’t think the cultural differences could be any more striking than I have found them to be. After 17 hours of flying, one goes from saying “good morning” to strangers on the street to inadvertently sharing one-second eye contact at the U Bahn – which here could be interpreted as risqué flirting. Why would one look a person in the eyes? We have shoes for that.

Indeed, it is a peculiar day in São Paulo when the handrails of the train are not used for pole dancing by a teenager with a sense of humor or a street artist as a performance prop. I was not naive enough to expect a Carnaval at the U-Bahn, but it did surprise me when I dropped a water bottle on the train by accident and observed that the facial expressions that ensued could contextually fit a funeral. I know you are big on recycling, Germany, but I was going to pick it up.

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“Thoughts” — a painting I made during my gap year in 2016. (Credit: Lucia Pradel)

I stared through the open window. My lungs filled with the cold winter air, and an odd sense of hope invaded my soul. A small ray of light peaked out from behind the clouds and rested next to me. God then whispered through my right ear: “This year will be good, Ana. Not that the rest have not been good, but this one will be especially so.”

I smiled and said: “Thank you for the blessing,” and the thin ray of sun hid once more.

After hearing those brief words, I lay flat on my bed and thought about life. These days my ceiling had become my favorite canvas because my imagination and memories could stain it without leaving a visible trace. I stared at it for a few seconds, and my eyelids began to feel heavy. Then, quickly enough, a hollowness invaded the depths of my chest. This feeling of emptiness was not new: It had been tingling all through my being for a few months. Oddly enough, though, as soon as this new year rang in, it became louder — acute.

As the days passed, I continued to experience the same sensation. I spoke to my friends about it and tried to explain this “emptiness,” but no words could capture the feeling. Even when I was able to explain, it never felt like I had said enough, which is why I could not blame them for their lack of useful advice. Some replies ran along the lines of “Why are you thinking so much?” and “Do not think about things so much, Ana.” A small number of them sympathized, saying they “got it,” but then stayed silent. Others would just shake my words off by telling me to “just leave it; it will solve itself, Ana.”

But I couldn’t just leave the nothingness, this emptiness, alone.

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Veronika doing silk acrobatics around campus (Credit: Anna Zakelj)

IKEA recently sponsored a performance piece staged by the theater troupe led by BCB second-year Veronika Rišňovská (HAST). The challenge? Create an engaging, interactive performance — in a shopping mall. How to go about such a project, in a site like a shopping mall, where interactions with strangers are typically minimal and people arrive to shop, not be distracted by theater? Veronika and I sat down to discuss her theater troupe’s creative process and performances, and the possible future of the modern shopping mall.



  1. “Money for Nothing” by Dire Straits
  2. Excerpts from shopping mall advertisements as found here, here, and here.


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