While the NYU bubble that I have described in previous posts has somewhat prevented me from getting very close with native Berliners, I have met some amazing faculty and members of NYU Berlin’s administration who have helped me grow so much over the past semester. Even though I had heard from friends who have studied in Berlin in the past about how amazing some of their professors were, I did not expect to take a course that would be so significant in shaping my Gallatin concentration. I thought that this semester would be a break from my usual course material but it has ended up playing a crucial role in the trajectory of my time at NYU.
I am very grateful to have met my German cinema studies professor. He relays knowledge in a way that is engaging and digestible — it is difficult for me to feel bored in his class. His excitement for German cinema is contagious. Every week my classmates and I are eager to hear his thoughts on whatever film we will be discussing because they are always interesting and oftentimes unexpected. At least once a class he will make a comment that strikes me as extremely relevant to my concentration and I will furiously jot it down in the back of notebook, highlighting and circling it for future reference.
The way that my professor conducts his lecture and seminar benefits my learning style very much. His lectures are packed with German history that is seamlessly interwoven into the history of German cinema. While intellectually stimulating, our class discussions are not overwhelming. My professor validates our comments and opinions without making us feel incompetent or uninformed (and I have had numerous professors in the past who have not been able to do this). I feel comfortable sharing my thoughts on the films we watch even if I have not had the chance to fully develop my opinion yet. He can take the smallest comments and run with them. This has changed the way that I approach a classroom setting. While I have always felt like it is more a space for sharing developed ideas, I now understand better how it can be a space for productive discussion and the formulation of more concise ideas.
Beyond creating a space for us to explore the world of German cinema, my professor also wants to make sure that we explore film in Berlin beyond the classroom. Every week he recommends a different kino to us where we can see German films, American films, or a mix. I appreciate having a Berlin mentor who is invested in both our academic development and our abroad experiences overall. His support is grounding and helps to make Berlin feel more like home, a place where people care about my well-being and progression.
This class and the connections it forges between history and cinema have lead me to shift my Gallatin concentration more toward film as a reflection of political histories. I was not expecting to discover a new area of academic interest when I moved to Berlin; however, my professor has changed the way I approach my studies and unknowingly helped me to lay a better foundation for my concentration. This semester-long encounter has reminded me of the importance of opening oneself up to new people, new experiences, and new knowledge. The most significant encounters are the most unexpected.
(P.S. The photo I have chosen is a dog that we ran into getting off of the U-Bahn the other night. She kept following us around and didn’t want to leave us. I could have written a whole post about her but I didn’t think of it until now, so here is a picture of her and my friend)