Sometimes I find it a little difficult to believe that I’m halfway across the world, in Europe, living my life. The past week has been a blur and the longest week of my life all at once, and I wouldn’t change a single thing about it. It has been an absolutely amazing experience touring around Berlin, seeing so many historic sites, and learning so much about the culture and landscape that rocks this town (that is roughly the size of my home state, but that is neither here nor there), and doing it while making so many ~friends~ along the way!
Apart from seeing some classic tourist sites like the Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin Wall, we have also had the opportunity to talk to some folks from the Worker’s Union, the Christian Democratic Party, and the Green Party. While German and American politics are different in the way they function, it is interesting in seeing the glaring differences between people’s attitudes towards certain issues in the two countries.
So far, being in Berlin has been an interesting cultural experience, as I feel a little too comfortable with myself, despite being in another country. But I’ve had a great time walking around, and discovering more and more nooks and crannies of the city that tourist websites don’t tell you about. On Saturday, I stumbled upon a huge flea market in a very hip part of the city, and the scent of freshly pressed orange juice tempted me. I had spaetzle for the first time in years. I karaoke’d lots of Queen. I found a powerlifting gym with a dog (apparently hard to come by in Berlin). So I’d say it’s been a pretty good week.
Today also marked the first day of my official summer internship at Stein & Partners, an international tax advisory law firm. The office space is a little cramped but quite chic and modern at the same time, with mostly mostly older people working, and some younger folks. I will be assisting on marketing real estate to Chinese investors, as well as helping to plan and coordinate an event with many German insurance companies. So far, a lot of today has been spent researching the German real estate market, the Berlin real estate market, and what it takes for foreigners, specifically Chinese people, to invest in real estate in Germany. Real estate has proven to be a pretty hot topic in Berlin specifically, and our talk with with the Green Party member highlighted some problems with the insufficient supply of housing in the city and the growing demand, thus driving up rent prices and pushing out people who have lived here their whole lives. It makes me wonder what my role, as someone who will be working to sell Berlin real estate to wealthy foreign investors, is in this process. I suppose we shall see.
In this industry, I believe there are several skills I will need to be successful. As many have pointed out before me, punctuality to Germans is extremely important, and I think being punctual and extra attentive to deadlines will be useful to me. I also think I will need to know how to successfully research and understand topics, such as the Berlin real estate market, in order to quickly adapt to the changing market and fulfil our clients’ needs. I’m not sure if this is a product of my specific working environment (older adults, relatively conservative working environment, nature of the field), but I am more used to a rambunctious, collaborative, and open working space that involves a lot of talking and collaborating with my colleagues for ideas or any tips they may have , and I anticipate myself having to adapt to this quieter and less communal environment to succeed at this internship. Either way, I am excited for tomorrow and what the rest of the next 8 weeks holds! Until next time!