Home in Berlin

After a few exciting, yet exhausting, weekends of traveling around Europe to visit cities such as Paris, France and Munich, Germany, it was finally nice to be able to stay in Berlin for the weekend and relax.  While it is always fun to be able to travel and visit other places and have a variety of experiences, it can be very tiring and take a lot out of you, especially when you are trying to see and do as many things as possible with the limited time you have in each place.  Thus, having the weekend so sit back and stay in Berlin was a great way to rest and recuperate in order to not only get ready for my next round of adventures, but to see more of the city that I’ve had the pleasure to call home for the past few weeks. It was also great to be able to spend time with the collective group and catch up with everyone.

One of my favorite things that I did was to go and explore the Tiergarten.  Being and avid runner, having a large outdoor space just down the street to be able to go and explore is always great.  And with one being in the middle of the city, it provides a great experience to be able to both run in nature and in an urban environment, meaning that there is always something to look at.  It is also a great way to relieve the stress that has built up throughout the work day and week. It was also fun to be able to get out and explore a little bit of the night life with the rest of the group.  Seeing as most of the group has been off doing their own thing the past few weekends, it was nice to be able to spend the evening with everyone and go out and get food and experience the famous nightlife of Berlin.

One of the most important things that I have done at Pitt in order to help me prepare for this experience take a few advanced level Political Science and Legal courses.  These are very important as they have helped me to gain some of the tools necessary to properly research and evaluate laws and regulations. They have also helped me with getting into the mindset of a legal professional.  One of the hardest things when doing research and evaluating laws a regulations is thinking through all of the possible avenues and situations as well as then interpreting what these mean and the implications of each one of those things happening.  This also extends to writing assignments that I have done. Being able to write, not in an academic manner, but a professional and legal manner is two very different things. This has been taught to me both through my legal courses where I have learned how to properly explain and evaluate laws and regulation and then properly format as well as in business classes where I have taught to summarize large portions of information and then present it in an efficient and effective manner.

One thing that I think that I was not well prepared for though was dealing with European Union legal customs, especially the differences between the Case law system used in the Anglo-Sphere and the Civil law system using in Continental Europe.  This is very important because of the differences in the way that laws are presented and subsequently adjudicated. One of the biggest differences being that in Case Law, court decisions and other legal bodies have power to influence the legal system, meaning that the decision made in litigation are then bound into law until overturned.  However, this is very different from the Civil Law system where court cases have not effect on the law are subsequently hold no weight beyond that particular case. This presents two big challenges. One, being that some of the research methods that I have learned, particularly looking up previous cases, are no longer useful as the cases found don’t carry any weight.  Secondly, and more importantly, I also have to provide my own interpretations for each of the laws and how those laws answer the subsequent questions that I am asked.

However, one of the ways that I am overcoming this gap is to be asking questions of my supervisor and my other colleagues in the legal department.  These questions can range from structural questions of how a certain law has played out in real life to more theoretical questions to see if I am on the right track with my analysis or to see if my interpretations even make sense.