Week 5 in Berlin officially makes it just over halfway for the entire trip! It is crazy that I have been here for over a month, however, at the same time it does seem like forever since I have seen friends from home as well as my dog. Overall, my experience thus far has been one full of many positives. For example, although there are some things that I miss about being at home, I really have felt comfortable being independent and self-sufficient in a city so far away from home. This is something that I discussed with regards to my goals for the entire trip due to the fact that I grew up in Pittsburgh and did not venture too far from home for school. Thus, I was really looking forward to seeing how I would handle an extended stay away from home especially in a foreign country which I do not even speak the native language. One of the main reasons that I was extremely interested in seeing how I felt about the whole experience was due to my interest in possibly living in another city for part of my life; and I feel like if I can take on Berlin I would be more than able to reside in another city within the states. I actually have found that I am very comfortable and sometimes even prefer to do things on my own, especially things that are a little outside of my comfort zone.
Next, I wanted to talk about how my experience at Pitt has prepared me for my time abroad and what I felt like my experience at Pitt was unable to prepare me for with regards to the past month in Berlin. I believe that going to school in an urban environment really helped me already be acclimated to living in a city setting in which everything is constantly fast, noisy, and hectic than say if I had attended a more rural campus. Additionally, I believe the opportunities and information provided by the Pitt Business Study Abroad Office really helped me as well. I had the amazing opportunity as a Freshman to spend a few weeks in China which helped me to become acclimated and comfortable with spending some time in a foreign culture. Additionally, since China was so culturally different and I had to overcome huge obstacles like spending a few days in the hospital, I think that I felt like I was prepared for just about anything Berlin would throw at me. Pitt Business also provided plenty of valuable information regarding German culture both professionally and personally as well as contact information of kids who had previously studied here for the summer all of which allowed me to enter the trip feeling confident and prepared for what may lie ahead. Overall, I do not feel like there was much else Pitt could have prepared me for as most of the time you just have to jump in and tackle problems as they arise. The only major thing I wish I had more of would be the ability to speak German, however, that was my personal choice to not pursue classes at Pitt.
The week was full of fun and exciting things such as having dinner in the Tiergarten, going for a run in the Tiergarten, catching up with all the interns and Intrax staff for pizza to talk about how our experiences have been going so far, a dinner in Kreuzberg, and much more! This weekend was also very cool as on Saturday I spent time going to the beautiful Viktoria Park where we got to see the amazing waterfall located in the heart of the park. Following the trip to the park I again headed back to Badeschiff to go swimming at the pool which is located in the river. Saturday evening finished with a dinner at Burgermeister and a fun night out with friends. Sunday was again packed full of really cool experiences. I spent most of the day at MauerPark which is a large park in Berlin that hosts a Sunday flea market, huge performances, karaoke, and much more! I also had the opportunity to go to the German History Museum which covered German history from 500-present day, visit the DDR museum on life in East Germany during the Cold War, and go to Volkspark which is Berlin’s oldest public park. Finally, on Monday I spent time going grocery shopping as I am really hoping to start eating more in my place rather than having to go out so much and also went to see Rocketman with some friends which was a really good movie. I am excited to see what Berlin has to offer in week 6!