Hallo from Hamburg

This past week in Berlin has been my favorite so far. I’ve been getting a lot of projects at work, I’m becoming friends with some of my coworkers, and we even had a day off – with some much-needed rest and recovery. This weekend was amazing! We went to Hamburg – the weather was beautiful! We had a really nice breakfast at a café and walked all over the city. We went to the Maritime Museum and saw literally millions of tiny model ships. There were mini models of the ships in every country’s navy. They were so small, some of them no longer than an inch. Yet they had such intricate detail. I was so impressed by the artists who were able to create such precise replicas with colors, symbols, and even flags on all the models. It was amazing!

After that, we spent some time in this little community area by a port. They had a bunch of restaurants with a view of the water – it was perfect at sunset. We had a delicious dinner and got to walk around and see more of the city. After that, we walked to the building where the Beatles played their first gig – the Indra. It’s crazy to think how much history surrounds that one building!

On Sunday, we got delicious food at a Thai market near our hotel. The market was bustling, the food was great and really inexpensive. I’m definitely going back! We also got to see Tempelhof airfield, an abandoned airport where people go now to ride bikes, barbecue, or fly kites. It definitely was not what I was expecting. When I heard it was “abandoned”, I was expecting it to be an empty field with a dilapidated building. I was really surprised to see hundreds of people, especially in the 80 degree weather!

Overall, my experience has been great. I love the company that I am working at, even though the workload can be pretty heavy. There is also uncertainty at times about my role or my priorities. While I am considered a finance intern, I have been given tasks from several supervisors in different departments. Oftentimes, the supervisors will want them to be completed on the same day. It is difficult to try to finish both tasks in the time frame that they want because I’m working on several tasks simultaneously. It is challenging because they do not communicate with each other about the tasks they have given me or whose task is of the highest priority/urgency at the moment. Because I am so new to the company, I do not find myself in a position to be able to say that I can’t work on a project for someone, and there have been times when I feel that I am taking on too many. I try to be clear about what I am working at a given point, and I hope there is further communication about which task is most important.

There is also ambiguity regarding specific assignments themselves. I think this can be attributed partially to the communication style in Europe, and partially to the current state of my company. Right now, my company is working on a very big project, and everyone has been very busy. It is not an ideal time to have new interns who are not familiar with the company, its culture, and its standard way of doing things. There is not a lot of time to answer questions or spend a lot of time teaching/explaining. The other part of this situation is the result of differences in communication style. I think Americans are used to more direct information and clear directions, where in Europe it seems that there is more of an unspoken understanding. This goes for more than communication about work-related topics, but it is very much applicable here.

I have been able to reconcile situations by simply asking questions from my supervisor and some of the other employees in the company. Everyone has been really friendly and helpful, and they are very kind even when I have a lot of questions. This makes me feel much more comfortable when a confusing situation arises because I know I will be able to quickly resolve it.

I am looking forward to the next six weeks of my internship. I can’t believe it’s already (more than) 25% done. I can only imagine how quickly these next 6 weeks are going to fly by, but I’m trying not to think about it! I am enjoying Berlin so much, and I have already seen and done so much after only 3 weeks. Let’s see where the adventure leads next!

Until next time,

Kayla