Alexa’s Blog – Day 5

The following events transpired on 5/16/13.

Today’s media visit at Axel Springer was my favorite visit yet. We talked to Rudolf Porsche of Axel Springer and the Akademie students, which was very enlightening. Their work on their ‘masterpiece’ about the low voting turn out is such a great opportunity for them and hugely relevant since Germany has elections coming up. I was impressed by all of the students and that they are taking their education seriously. All of them are so multi-talented and charismatic that it’s hard to remember that some of them are even younger than we are. I loved getting the chance to talk to them. Katie, who is 18, was particularly amazing to all of us because she has already published four books! We had a great time talking to her about the differences between America and Germany after lunch. She found it funny that smoking cigarettes has a negative stigma in America, where in Germany it’s a bit of a romantic thing to be a smoking a cigarette and working on your hard-hitting news story. I loved hearing about the background of the other Akademie students as well – there was even a girl who had spent time in America, and her American accent was flawless. At the end of our visit, a few of the students took a small group of us to the 19th floor where there is a lavish bar and restaurant that overlooks the city of Berlin. It was probably the best view I had seen of the city so far.

While we were at Axel Springer we also talked with the assistant to the editor-in-chief of Die Welt, Leeor Englander. I was responsible for having a surplus of questions ready for him to keep the conversation going, but as it turns out I hardly needed them – he was so interesting and passionate about Die Welt that the words just kept coming. He talked a lot about the extensive innovations that Die Welt was doing to stay ahead of the journalism world and stand out. He showed us their news room, which was small and orderly but stocked with the latest in technology – Mac computers, full Adobe suites, several different models of iPads, smart phones – they seemed like they had everything they could ever need. Leeor also touched on a project he was a part of called Jew in the Box which was about stereotypes of the Jewish people. It was fascinating to hear about his culture and the prejudices he faces every day, and an interesting deviation from the news world that we had been talking about all day.

We had dinner in a small restaurant in Mitte, the center of Berlin. We enjoyed beer and schnitzel and paid Zack to eat an anchovy. The night ended with frantic packing and a short trip to get spaghetti ice cream. I got some for poor Carson, who is still stuck up in the hotel during down time, but it all but melted on by the time I booked it back to the hotel. I wish we could push her around in a wheelchair or a shopping cart.

Overall, this was my absolute favorite day. Everyone at Axel Springer was so engaging and relatable. I am sad to leave Berlin and our wonderful tour guide, Lorena, but I’m so happy that we ended on such a great note. Here’s to adventures in Munich!



Alexa’s Blog – Day 4

The following events transpired on 5/15/13.

Ah, another busy day in Berlin. Today was special because the weather was lovely – the sun was out and everything! That’s a huge change from the chill we’ve been dealing with since we arrived.

We started our day at ZDF sitting in on their late morning talk show, which was wonderful. The hosts seemed so laid back and the audience was calm and collected – the exact opposite of what American talk shows seem to be like. I couldn’t understand what was going on but I was able to get the gist of it from their visual aids. It hardly felt like we were on a television show at all. The set was so convincing as a cafe.

After sitting in on the show, we were able to get a short tour of the studio with a group of Palestinians followed by a meeting with Wulf Schmiese, one of the hosts. He is an insanely interesting guy with a background in hard news and it was different to see someone with his experience now hosting a talk show, of all things. It did get a bit awkward at a point because one of the Palestinian women proceeded to go into full-on lecture mode on poor Wulf over an issue in their country. I was impressed at how quickly Wulf bounced back from that and was able to give them an answer that turned things away from their struggle a bit.

After our ZDF visit concluded, we visited a chocolate shop and had lunch at Maximilian’s near the American district and enjoyed more wonderful German food. I was inclined to be cheap today so I played it safe with potato soup, cabbage salad and a beer. The food here hasn’t disappointed me yet.

Our big day continued with a visit to Deutsche Presse Agentur, where we had a meeting with Christian Rowekamp and Michael Keppler who talked about their mission to serve their clients before they served themselves. They had such a great perspective with DPA that was unfamiliar to me because they are so committed to being behind the scenes and staying there. I loved Michael’s photo of the Pope’s hand – I swear I’ve seen it before. I want to look for it online to see what American publications have featured it, because I know I’ve seen it before.

The DPA newsroom is exactly how I think a newsroom should look like. It’s separated yet open. Everyone in their own department but no one is confined into cubicles or on separate floors. I think that unity is important for all elements of news to flow together. It seems like everyone at DPA would be close knit for this reason.

After leaving DPA we headed back to the hotel where I caught up on some much needed rest. I ate leftovers and crashed on my bed. I definitely needed that recharge for the Reichstag visit.

The Reichstag was absolutely stunning. Places like these hold so much history and seem like they have a life of their own. The outside is beautiful. The inside is beautiful. I can’t say enough about this place. Historical sites are one thing that I prefer to do alone. I like having my own time to process all the information, read, analyze photographs, and just enjoy myself at my own pace. The photographs on the ground floor of the dome were so compelling. I was captivated by them, especially a photo of a young man carrying his bike through the hole in the Berlin Wall. There was another photograph with a caption that said: “NSDAP parliamentary group leaves the auditorium; only Joseph Goebbels remains as an observer.” How chilling.

Now that I have some time tonight relax and reflect before another crazy day tomorrow, it’s safe to say that I couldn’t be in Germany with better people. I was a bit nervous initially signing up for the class because I went in knowing one person, and I know that I’m inclined to be very quiet in class and not interact with anyone much. I find it difficult to talk to people. How am I going to go on a 12-day trip with people that I see in class once a week? Thankfully, everyone in this class is just awesome and we’re all pretty weird, which definitely helps. I speak sometimes, too! If anyone reads this, you are wonderful and don’t ever forget it!

Alexa’s Blog – Day 3

The following events transpired on 5/14/13.

Before our official visits even started for day 3, the students took matters into their own hands. We had free time until 1:00 pm, when we had to meet up for our visit to Deutsche Welle. But first, we took the train to East Berlin and checked out the East Side Gallery, which is a memorial to the Berlin Wall as well as a showcase to the beautiful artwork painted on the remnants of the Wall from renowned 1990s artists. Each and every piece was so unique and beautiful.

Yesterday and today, we spent copious amounts of time riding the train and just as it was starting to get easier to navigate, we were thrown through a loop and I was confused all over again. Thankfully we have some solid navigators in our little group and we arrived back at the hotel just in time to leave for Deutsche Welle. Which, of course, involved more time spent on the train. We ended but being a bit late for our meeting at Deutsche Welle due to a wrong turn and a lot of walking. My feet hurt just thinking about it.

At Deutsche Welle, we had a fantastic lecture from Fabian van der Mark, the Head of office managing director multimedia global (whew!) followed by a tour of Deutsche Welle’s inner workings. We were able to see the news rooms, control rooms, and even hang out in their studio before a broadcast. And – best of all – we went onto the rooftop and were able to catch a glimpse of the beautiful view of Berlin that these lucky journalists get to see every day.

Following the Deutsche Welle meeting, we had a short group meeting and scattered to find food (“scattered” being a word used lightly – seven of eleven of us decided on Italian next to the hotel) and took a stroll through Arkaden, a shopping center in Potsdamer Platz. And finally, our long day ends early. I can’t wait to get some rest. I feel like I’ve never been as tired as I was today. Here’s to looking forward to a very busy tomorrow.



Alexa’s Bio

IMG_1229Hello, dear readers!

My name is Alexa Blanchard and I am a rising junior at Point Park University where I major in multimedia and minor in marketing. I am so excited to blog about our once in a lifetime trip to Germany!

It’s hard to believe that in a few short days we will be boarding our plane at the Pittsburgh International Airport and headed overseas. I came from college a few days ago and between working, unpacking, and a collection of other responsibilities, I’ve hardly had time to relax. I can’t wait to get to Germany take a break from life for a while, even though we will still be plenty busy with our dizzying amount of media and cultural visits.

What am I excited the most about? I feel like there’s too much to list: tours of Berlin and Munich, a side trip to Dachau Concentration Camp (honestly I’m just going to cry the whole time), visiting Neuschwanstein Castle, taking in the nightlife, sampling the food, and exploring the country, just to name a few. I’m hoping to make it to a sports bar or two – who knows, maybe they’ll even be nice enough to put the Pens game on for me. It’s not like I can take a break from the playoffs.

That being said, I still have to pack, get some money changed, and just take care of business overall. I can’t wait to head back to Pittsburgh on Friday. Then on Saturday I’ll be ready to brave the Port Authority buses and hope they get me to the airport on time. Here’s to strategic planning!

Bis demnächst – until next time,