On my first day in Berlin, I thought my seven years worth of learning the German language would help me get around the city. I was wrong. The taxi driver who drove me from the airport to my hotel was talking at me rather than talking to me. I laughed and nodded at almost every statement he made to show to showcase a façade. Now two and a half months later and a month’s worth of outside German classes, my German is slightly better. I can order food auf Deutsch—all that basically matters, right?
Time flies, but my flight leaves on August 1st. I’m spending a week with my host family from an exchange program I did three years ago. Nonetheless, Berlin was truly an experience I will never forget seeing that it is already my second trip here. Vencon Research, accessed through a secluded alley behind an apartment complex, became my second home for five days a week. There, I met so many people around the world who spoke different languages, lived out different cultures, and expressed different opinions. Their German was kilometers (because in Europe they use the metric system) better than mine, but all could communicate in English just as well. The people in my department—Data Integrity—have taught me very useful knowledge working in Microsoft Excel. I’ve established good friendships across the company, and those relationships are the biggest things I will miss. I never expected to enjoy going to work. Now, I will miss the 45-minute commutes, the €2.70 whole pizzas from the nearby restaurant, my interactions with my co-workers, and, surprisingly, some of the work I did for my company.
I only left the city once and that was to visit my host family from the exchange. Unlike many of the IIP: Berliners, I’ve barely left Berlin. However, I’m still happy. I’ve gotten to spend tons of time exploring the city and the different neighborhoods. I’ve photographed over one hundred Berlin U-Bahn stations. I’ve tried out the best döners, rode elevators up to the highest points, visited the most touristy or tourist places and the even the least popular. If I had more options, I would choose to stay in Berlin much longer. Pittsburgh isn’t as large or as diverse as Berlin. It will feel so weird to hear English being spoken once again and not a bunch of languages—Russian, Turkish, Italian, Arabic, Korean, Spanish, French, and the like—be thrown over you. Staying overseas for this long amount of time has made me realize that I’m totally okay with living far away from “home” for extended periods of time. Germany has convinced me that I could totally be fine living and working in an environment I’m not as comfortable in because I love the challenge and idea of meeting new people and discovering new things.
My co-worker Ira told me that you never just meet one person once. There’s at least always a second time. I actually believe that, too, because when I left Germany three years ago, I convinced myself that I would never come back again. Yet, here I was! This is not the last I will see of this awesome country. There is no reason for me to not come back since I’ve made so many friends, established professional relationships, learned the language, and have lived independently here for a decent amount of time. But for now, I must go back and finish my last two years of university. Hopefully then, I will have more options. Perhaps I may even work in Germany, too!
Auf wiedersehen, Deutschland! Bis dann.