No city in Europe has been recreated as many times as London. Take a walk over the Thames and then wander like a local through so many connected greenways and parks, and you will have your own very clear eyes open to how this place can and does live multiple urban lives at the same time. Where were bears baited in the time of Shakespeare? Where did The Clash rehearse? Where does Roman Londinium exist just steps away from a Baroque masterpiece? All of those Londons will become yours, as you fan out on The Catalyst to put the contours of this great city forever into your understanding of the modern world.
The pull of Paris is something nobody has ever been able to measure, and yet explanations for its incredible hold on our romantic imaginations are born anew with every generation. The survivors of World War One came here and stayed, forming the nucleus of what Gertrude Stein called “the lost generation.” Since the 1920s, almost everyone else has found a reason to come here, too and love the place. Is it the unmatched regality of the buildings and the fantastically wide and lovely streets? Or is the Seine, snaking through the city like some vital artery that produces art, beauty, and life? Your Catalyst course will meet almost every day you’re here, seeing to it that you’ll come to know Paris so well that you’ll love it for a lifetime.
This city was the fulcrum of the Cold War, and its street art and edgy cultural energy are reminders of how central Berlin has been to the history of the world in the last five decades. Deeper digging finds the layers of history and culture that are still the place’s bedrock, too, from the first half of the 20th century, when Berliners were part of the political energy that launched two world wars. On a single street here, you can look and find a building that the Nazis built to last a 1000 years, while snaking just around the corner are remaining segments of the Berlin Wall. Prepare to be amazed! (Also be ready for some of the nightlife energy of Berlin to shock you, because this city is where even the Spanish come to let loose after dark. Nobody’s night in Europe is ever bigger than what native or transplanted Berliners live on the weekends.)
No city is more suggestive of the “new” Europe than historic Prague. And no city has featured more centuries of hope, struggle, beauty and frustration. Our classrooms will be everywhere in this jewel of a city, from the historic clock tower in the center of Prague to the tortured village of martyrdom just a few miles outside of the city, Lidice.