Time went by so quickly. I cannot believe I have been in Berlin for one week. My first week in Berlin is just so much fun! I made friends, explored the cities and, of course, started my internship.
I am in love with the city, Berlin. It is extremely gorgeous. The buildings here are mainly less than 10 floors in height, and high rise buildings are hardly found. It makes me feel relaxed and tranquil as compared to the busy atmosphere in New York City. I also got the chance to check out a rooftop bar with my friends; the view of Berlin city from that high up was spectacular and breathtaking. The city government put much emphasis on environment and sustainability; they planted many trees across the city and labelled them for easy monitoring. Recycling is also a hot topic for them; after consuming a glass-bottled drink, we can return the empty glass bottle to any convenient store in exchange for 50 cents.
I had some funny experiences trying to speak German to the Germans. I was at a bakery trying to get a chocolate pastry. I said: “guten Morgen, ein Schokolade-snecke bitte! (good morning, one chocolate pastry please!)”. The worker replied, “weiss Schokolade oder braun Schokolade? (white chocolate or brown chocolate?)”. I did not pick up the word “braun” as I had not learn that word before; I was stuck for a moment. Then, I pointed to the brown chocolate pastry while trying to say “brown” in German. The worker “realized” that I was struggling to speak German; then, she switched to speaking English to me. She asked if I wanted to have it here or to go; I still persisted to speak German to her by replying “Abholen” (pick-up). She did not seem convinced that I could speak at least some basic German, and she said “three Euro twenty” in English. I felt awkward and was a bit “disappointed” that she did not let me practice German. On the other hand, I had an experience where I tried not to speak German but the German spoke German to me. It was at a burger shop where I decided to place my order using English as I was “embarrassed” by my prior experience. Therefore, I said: “Hallo, may I have a meisterburger please?”. “Sonst noch etwas? (anything else?)”, she replied. I was blanked because I did not understand what she was talking about, and I said “pardon”. Then, she said: “Oh sorry, I did not notice that you do not speak German. Do you want anything else?” At that moment, I felt “defeated” because I was trying to speak German, but the German spoke English to me instead whereas another German spoke German to me when I was speaking English. I think these two encounters were hilarious experiences of me learning to speak German.
Besides that, I also notice a couple things in Berlin that are different from the United States. Firstly, the pedestrian traffic light turns red very quickly. I never completely cross any road within the green light period with my slow and relaxing walking speed. In addition, the Germans are very obedient to the pedestrian traffic light. They would not cross the road if the light is red even there is no incoming traffic at all. I am impressed by their level of discipline in this aspect. Moreover, there is traffic light for bicycle lane across Berlin; this is something that I have not seen both in America and Malaysia. Next, their tap water is safe to drink. Hence, it is extremely difficult to find a water fountain in public places. However, my friends and I did find one water fountain next to a crowded parade. Furthermore, I learned that most of the shops in Berlin are closed during Sundays except restaurants and bars; thus, Germans will do their shopping on Saturdays and have outdoor activities on Sundays. On the past Sunday, my friends and I went jogging, stopped by a beergarden by the largest park at Berlin and rowed on the lake.
Good time always went by swiftly. I started my internship today. I am working in taxation industry. My resposibilities are to understand the Value Added Tax, the ways it works in Germany, and the party responsible to collect the tax on behalf of Tax authority. Eventually, I will learn to file tax for my clients, and potentially, getting in touch with them individually. One strength to be successful in this industry that I identify is the ability to interpret and analyze rapidly and accurately. This is because the main task of a tax advisor is to assist clients classify the correct categories which their goods and services belong. I have to comprehend the classification quick and thorough in order to offer professional advices to my future clients.
In summary, I am super excited for my internship and abroad experience. I have been indulging in the beautiful scenery of Berlin. I am looking forward to learn more about German culture and gain more industry knowledge through my internship.