What a week! I’ve been able to have the wonderful experience of having last Thursday off, and using the weekend to my advantage to travel around Germany. Here in Germany, Ascension Day (the day believed to be when Jesus Christ ascended back into the heavens) is celebrated with a day off. The weekend started on Wednesday night, when our boss treated everyone to dinner at a Chinese restaurant. There, I was able to connect more with my coworkers, practice some of my German, and talk about German life. We discussed everything from traveling, to politics, to taxes, and it was valuable insight in the average Berlin resident’s life!
On Thursday, I took around 50% of the day to catch up on all the sleep that had escaped me for the past two weeks. This was followed by a lovely trip to the Victory Column, a walk around the surrounding Tiergarten park, and then meeting up at a beer garden with Dan and Dylan, 2/5 of the people who had remained in Berlin this weekend. After adequately eating, talking, and soaking in the sun, we took a walk through the park back to the Victory Column. I think one of my favorite parts about Berlin is the abundance of parks, and how they are well maintained and extremely popular. The parks are also huge, so even with many people going, it does not seem overcrowded in the slightest. The views are incredibly relaxing, and I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to just stroll in a park. After taking a few laps around the park, we climbed up to the top of the Victory Column, a tiring endeavor, but the view at the top was certainly worth it.
While Thursday was certainly a nice and relaxing day, the highlight of the weekend was our day long trip to Hamburg! The day began at around 5:30 am, getting up to catch a 7 am bus. Despite sleeping through just about 98% of the bus ride, I can say that some of the distance between Berlin and Hamburg looks like central New Jersey. After arriving at the city several hours later, I was struck by the difference between Hamburg and Berlin. Before coming to Germany, my mom had told me that studying abroad in Berlin would be different, as it “doesn’t really feel like Germany”. Even though I’ve only been here for around three weeks, and I only went to Hamburg for 24 hours, I think I can see what she means on a basic level. Hamburg looks older and more traditionally German and European, with dated buildings and a view right by the water. I could picture myself sitting by the harbor and watching the boats come in and out on the weekends, something I would neglect in the hustle and bustle of Berlin. The city is certainly smaller than the capital, as we pretty successfully walked across it with minimal feet-aches.
Even though it is smaller, it doesn’t feel any less entertaining. There were countless shops, blocks, and squares that were filled with people, and all were located in prime spots, whether it be on a rooftop overlooking Reeperbahn (a very interesting place indeed), right by the harbor, or snugly tucked in between apartment buildings. And that’s not to say anything about the museums! There were countless museums scattered around the city, and I’m confident that it could take a full month to get through them all. We journeyed to the Maritime Museum, seemingly appropriate in a harbor city. There, we were struck by rows and rows of glass cases of miniature boat models, and an amalgam of boat facts, figures, and paintings of everything and anything boat-related (while I did really enjoy the museum, I’m not sure if I can think of another boat for the next few years). We ended the day walking around the city and St. Pauli, the famous red light district and the home to several Beatles venues. at 23:45, we boarded our bus and said goodbye (for now) to Hamburg, and made the journey home.
Despite getting back to the hotel at around 4 am, this didn’t stop us from a day of activities on Sunday! Struck by around 85 degree weather, we began our day (granted, we began our day at around 3 pm) at the Thai market in a nearby park. This market was equipped with all Thai food every Sunday, and I could have cried at the sheer authenticity of it all. I got several Thai iced teas and mango sticky rice, a treat I haven’t had in a few years. We followed this up with a trip to Templehof, an abandoned airport-turned park (do you see what I mean when I say there are a lot of parks?). Renting bikes, we biked around the perimeter and enjoyed the spacious area, filled with nooks and crannies of people, obscure gardens to explore, and the occasional mini golf. As the sun began to set, the rest of our group returned from their journeys outside of Berlin, and we all headed out to celebrate Dan’s birthday (happy birthday Dan), a great end to a fantastic weekend.
Even though I had a shorter work week, and the memories of an exciting past few days in my mind, I am back to dealing with uncertainty and ambiguity in my internship. I don’t think the tasks I get are very unclear, but I do think I’ve struggled with the extent to which I should be diving into research, and how my supervisor wants me to present it to him. Even during the first week, I conducted market research that I did mainly for my own benefit. I didn’t write up any kind of report, but rather just jotted down my own notes, as only I would be using the information in the future, and my supervisor was already aware of how the Berlin real estate market functioned. This past week, I’ve been experimenting with writing more formal reports as I research various businesses, making points I could have just as easily done in a bulleted format. Even then, I’m not sure if this is what is expected of me, or if my supervisor is okay with a more casual approach to information (at the end of the day, I am still mostly presenting my findings to him through verbal speech). I’ve found that as I change my approach to conducting research, be it through a more formal or informal approach, I have asked if what I’m doing is okay and if there is something he would rather see or doesn’t like. This has worked pretty well, and I think eventually I will be able to figure out a format that is to my supervisor’s liking, instead of playing more of a guessing game.