Berlin has begun transforming itself into a much more environmentally friendly city.
There are many ways to study the world around you: through science, mathematics, literature, anthropology, philosophy etc. Environmental Science is one of those ways–a way to study the earth’s past, its present, its future, and our relation to it. When I originally thought of Environmental Science, I imagined a lot of graphs and statistics depicting levels of CO2 in the air, but while that is a part of it, there is so much more to learn. I could never have been passionate about graphs or statistics, but when I began to study Environmental Science in my senior year of high school, I learned about how I personally could have an impact on the world and this is what interested me most. The graphs of methane bubbles in the earth didn’t motivate me to become more environmentally friendly as much as learning how to identify birds did. Learning Environmental Science is about finding what connects you to the world around you and why you should protect it. After all of the information and class and lectures and vocabulary, something that has stuck with me most from my studies was the case of Germany.
This past decade, Germany has produced the most ambitious environmental plan the world has ever seen.
Lucas Anthony Cone Møller
The community of Bard College Berlin is very diverse. Students come from six continents and their life paths have taken the most peculiar trajectories. Whereas some had never even left their home country prior to coming to Berlin, others have lived in different places and traveled all over the world. In the belief that everyone here has an interesting story to share, the blog team decided to interview the students and find out more about their background, their interests and their decision to come to Berlin. In this first interview, you can “meet” Lucas Anthony Cone Møller, a first year BA student from Denmark who plays an incredible number of music instruments and is interested in politics and education.
Lucas, have you always lived in Denmark?
So you don’t really have a multicultural background?
Well, my mom is from the States. She was born in Brooklyn, so I spent a lot of time in New York, passing back and forth between cultures.
Are you bilingual?
Yes. I guess I grew up with both cultures under my skin. I learnt children songs in both English and Danish – it is a useful insight into how to live your life within different cultural backgrounds.
Would you still consider Bard College Berlin your first multicultural environment?
Definitely. Denmark is very… monocultural. Everyone is kind of the same; we all kind of think the same – even though we like to say we think really differently.
What do you mean by “monocultural”?
We think alike, in the sense that we all agree on fundamental values regarding our welfare system, a green profile etc. So it is interesting to be in a place like Bard College Berlin where people come from different cultures and, of course, have different views on basic things that I would take for granted. From a Danish perspective, with our cultural history and the way we look at things, the international environment here differs from what I’m used to. In that sense it is my first experience.
‘Berliner Stadtschloss’, postcard from the 1920s
Museum Island – the island of grand architecture, remarkable artworks and astonishing exhibits––stands incomplete before us today. It is impossible to miss it: the hole in the center of Berlin, surrounded by the city’s greatest and widely known museums; the place where the Berlin City Palace (Stadtschloss Berlin) once stood. 580 years after its cornerstone was first laid, and 63 years after it was blow up by East Germany’s authorities, this baroque palace that was once home to Prussian royalty is being reconstrusted at a cost of around 590 million euros. And this is only the cost of rebuilding it – mainteinance costs are still to be considered. Under the lead of the Italian architect Franco Stella, the Palace is finally getting its original place in the city back – with the funding support from the federal government. Despite the major criticism of the project by ministers, academics and concerned Berliners, the German President laid the new foundation stone on June 12 this year. Welcome back, old days of glory?
“When the walls speak it is because we are all crazy.” (photo by Jelena Barac)
Surely none would completely disagree with me if I were to say that a language can mirror a culture. Perhaps you would be skeptical if I were to say that language is culture. I guess that would indeed be pushing it too far. If nothing, you could not deny that language and culture are tightly interconnected and influence each other in, even if subtle, significant way. Learning a language without getting to know the culture to which this language belongs would definitely leave one with a half-baked experience, just as it is almost impossible to integrate with people, regardless of how well one knows their culture, if one does not speak their language.
Because of this, among other things, my experience of Brazil, and for that matter of Rio de Janeiro, was largely influenced by my progress—or lack thereof—in learning Portuguese. My understanding of the people and the surroundings in which I found myself varied together with this process: it grew as I started to understand and use the language more and more (often wrong too, which, surprisingly, led to nothing short of a series of discoveries). So I am about to tell you some of my linguistic, if you can call them that way, experiences in the waters of Portuguese language.
One of the first words I learned, even before I went to Rio, was saudades.
Julia Dittrich is a professor of Theatre Studies at ECLA of Bard. She is part of the visiting faculty this fall term and she is teaching the course Acting and Directing. The course aims to teach students the two different styles of acting prevalent in American and German theatres. In our conversation Julia sheds light on her work before joining ECLA of Bard, and what she hopes to do in the future.
1. How did you become interested in theatre and at what point did you decide to study it?
I started theatre in high school and acted in three plays a year. And to get into college I had written an essay about theatre and Ancient Greek theatre, and how these older stories connected to mankind and humanity in general. I got into Yale University, but in the first year I only took acting as a hobby. Eventually I became a Theatre major and did three to four plays a year. I was fascinated by the act of live performance because it is always new, always unpredictable, and always a risk. There is always a different atmosphere and relationship between the audience and the performers each night. You cannot predict what is going to work and what is not. There is an exciting energy and vulnerability for the performers in theatre that you do not have in film. I started as an actor and majored in German Literature and Acting. I was interested in German writers and actors, and after college I came to Germany as the place I was to work for needed a director. It was there I started working as a director.
Stabi (photo by Jelena Barac)
I am a provincial girl. I grew up in a small town. The door to the big world opened up pretty late. But it opened with a bang. I hate to admit it, but kitsch still sometimes impresses me, so do the luxurious buildings, lavish things––everything the small town did not have and never will. I am a provincial girl, I said––I don’t get used to the grandiose; its easy to impress me. Berlin never stops reminding me of my provinciality; it is why I love it. It keeps me out of my comfort zone, as we would say in Serbian, it “kicks me out of my shoes”. From all that excitement I feel butterflies in my stomach and butterflies in stomach mean love, don’t they? This is a simple story of an ordinary provincial girl impressed by the city veins, by a library. It has a lot of E in it, E-motion, E-xcitement, E-mbarrassment, E-ducat…sorry Bildung.
The actor Michael Palmer in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde at Blackwell’s Bookshop (photos by Richard Budd)
This summer as I was visiting friends and family in the UK, I had the delight of watching Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde at Oxford’s famous bookshop Blackwell. The play was very interesting to me because it dealt with themes relating to the scientific practices of the early modern period––themes I had recently come across in my spring semester course on Early Modern Science at ECLA of Bard. Even though I watched the play out of coincidence, it was a way for me to further my thoughts on several things discussed in our class.
The play was a one-man show, in which the actor played all the parts by changing his voice and using different props and costumes. I must say that, given my theatre experience, the choice of the play’s acting method—a single man’s embodiment of different characters—seemed particularly accurate, as Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde aims to gradually disclose the two personalities and their relationship hidden in a single man, Dr. Jekyll. Thus, in a most emphatic presentation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella, the audience was presented not only with the duality of the main character, but also with two emerging issues: the first being the ethical boundaries that any researcher has to explore and the second being the dilemma scientists can face when making new discoveries and having to deal with conventional ideas about morality and ethics.
Berlin Festival of Lights 2013 (photo by Inasa Bibić)
“Light is life, light is energy, light speaks all languages and light connects people.” –Birgit Zander
Berlin is a city made up of many wonders. By day, Berliners, travelers, and students explore the city streets with its numerous cozy cafes, fascinating shops, and beautiful parks. By night, the city is brought to life by chattering restaurants, rambunctious bars, and infectious clubs. Street lights and cars passing by illuminate the night air as pedestrians and bicyclists stroll along the sidewalks, wait for the green Amplemann, and swing inside warm doors. The strings of lights interlocked between the city’s trees and the glows from the restaurant and bar windows add warmth to the chilly, autumn air, while bike lights blink red across the pavement. Berlin is a city of light.