In the past I have travelled internationally several times with groups. The first two times were in high school, once to the British Isles for three weeks when I was fifteen and once to Costa Rica for two weeks when I was sixteen. Last year, I also had the pleasure to travel to Augsburg, Germany with the Pitt Plus3 program for two weeks in May. I would have been thrilled to have the opportunity to travel to any of the three English speaking internship locations (Berlin, Prague, and Dublin), but I chose Berlin at the end because I was eager to go back to Germany after my experience last year and get to know the business culture more in depth. I also felt that Germany is in a great location in Europe and that Berlin has a vibrant culture. Before I was selected for the trip, I had very limited knowledge about both the culture and professional background of the country. The only knowledge I had was what I learned through the Plus3 program.
On Tuesday, my flight arrived in Berlin at about 10:00am and we took a train to the hotel to check in after buying public transportation passes at the airport. We took a 2.5-hour walking tour of the city, that day, starting at the Brandenburg Gate, a well-known monument in the center of Berlin. Our tour guide was extremely informative and shared stories from 19th and 20th century Germany. At the end of the tour we had dinner out and then went home to bed, as we were all extremely exhausted from all of the travelling prior.
Wednesday started with a two-hour German language crash course. We had this class Thursday and Friday, as well. I was happy to learn some of the language but found the pronunciations of words to be extremely different than English which made German very difficult for me to speak. Following class on Wednesday, we had orientation with Britta, our main contact here in Germany, and then took a tour of the Reichstag, the German Parliament building. The Parliament building was extremely interesting because the building has a mixture of both old and new architecture. Sitting on top of the building is a glass dome that the public can walk around in. Because the dome is glass, people can actually see all the way down into the room where Parliament meets, and Parliament can look up and watch the people walk above them as they meet. We finished the day with one more orientation meeting and had dinner in the Tiergarten, a large park in the center of Berlin.
The two excursions that we participated in on Thursday after German class were taking a tour of a historical museum and visiting the Hertie School of Governance. The tour at the museum focused on Germany from the Weimar Republic to Nazi Germany. It was a very interesting tour for me because although I have learned a lot about the early 20th century, especially World War I and World War II, in high school, there was a lot of information about events that I learned on this tour which I had never heard about previously. The tour of the Hertie School of Governance was much shorter and introduced us to the master’s programs offered to English speaking students such as ourselves.
Yesterday had a much greater focus on the arts. We visited a contemporary arts museum in the early afternoon that was built within an old train station. I was surprised to see that so much of the art featured in the large museum came from American artists, including some work from Andy Warhol in Pittsburgh. We stayed at the hotel for about an hour and a half and then took the train to visit a small art gallery that one of the American students working through Intrax is interning at. Currently, they are setting up for an opening featuring a painter from Maine. Afterwards we got coffee with the American student and talked about our different college experiences and asked her for suggestions on what to do while we are in Berlin, since she has already been in Germany since January of this year.
As for today, Steph and I went grocery shopping and looked for SIM cards so that we are all set to start our internship this Monday. So far, I love Berlin and I am looking forward to seeing what the next two months has in store.