I have been in Berlin for almost two weeks and have loved it so far! The food is amazing and the city is so welcoming. I am living in a hostel with another Pitt student, Jonnie Kay. They do not have housing on campus in Germany at colleges like the US. Everyone lives in private housing and usually has a commute of around 30 minutes one way. This has been something to get used to, as at Pitt I usually have a five minute walk to class.
Class has been exceptionally interesting. We had an angel investor as our professor last week and this week have the President of the University. We got to do an on-site visit to a successful German startup, GoEuro. We even got to have a Q&A with the CEO, who was a Harvard graduate. In class I have noticed that there is actually a lot of innovation in Germany, but it seems to more often come from a corporation than by individuals. Corporations like Siemens hire people to be innovative and develop products. They even pay for startup incubators.
Meeting people from all over the world (Australia, England, India, China, Mexico, Switzerland, and Russia) has also been an experience I will never forget. Almost all are open and interested in learning about America. There are definitely a lot of differences, but we have all been connecting despite this. Making friends so quickly has allowed us to explore a lot more of Berlin and has allowed us to see how innovation works across the world.
Some differences between Germany and America: here the customer is not always right. Some take it personally, but you have to realize that just is not the culture here. Food is way cheaper, but often in a small portion. Coins here have value of $1 or $2, so no throwing change! Everyone here is on time, and being on time means right at the time, not 10 minutes late. Jaywalking here is seen as taboo.
Some similarities between the countries: both of us have innovation imbedded in us. People are kind and want to help you if you need it. We all speak English! The school teaching style with a PowerPoint lecture mixed with group work is the normal approach. We all love American music and bands.
Berlin is an amazing city and I cannot wait to continue exploring. I’ve visited the Bundestag, Brandenburg Gate, and the Berlin Wall to name a few. Ich bin ein Berliner!
Until Next Time,