I have been in Munich for the last week on my own and I have one more to go until I am back in Berlin. It’s a different experience to be fully immersed in the German, or in this case Bavarian, culture. Back in Berlin, I go out with everyone from my program and we have a great time, but in many ways, it feels like I am still in the US. Here in Munich, living on my own, I do everything in German and I really enjoy it. I came here to Germany for many reasons, but one of the most important was to practice the language, try to build my skills enough to be fluent. I knew it was going to be hard, but it has proven even more difficult. All the work I do is in English because Brili, the app that my host company is based around, is provided only in English and French. In the office, to get any work done at all my supervisors have to speak to me in English because If not, I’d be asking them every other minute to repeat themselves or be looking up the meaning of a word on google translate. Its just not practical. However, outside of the office, I only speak German. This past weekend, I went to a free music festival that was taking place in Olympia Park, the huge complex built for the Olympics. It was an amazing time and I ended up making friends with a group of Austrians, which is quite funny. For those of you who don’t know, they do speak German in Austria, but it is a very different dialect then I have been taught and isn’t spoken anywhere else in Europe. As they were telling me, the dialects of German in Austria differ in almost every village, to the point that it gets incredibly hard for them to understand each other. You can imagine now how difficult it was for me to understand them when they spoke in their native dialect. For a while, sitting next to them at the table, I thought they must be from some northern country. But after some time and careful consideration, I introduced myself. We started to have some great discussions and I ended up spending the entire day with them.
Last week at work, it was a bit crazy. I was really being pulled so many ways it was hard to keep up. It seemed that right when I was about to finish a task, I was stopped because I didn’t have the proper access to some account or needed to wait for a response from one of my supervisors. Then I would be given another task before I could finish off that one and a lot of my projects started to pile up. However, near the end of the week, I was able to finish some bigger project I’ve been working on and begin others with some good groundwork. It all ended up working out, and I am heading into this week ahead of the game.
I have yet to be in a professional work environment back in the states. Every job I’ve ever had was doing more hands-on labor, where I didn’t have to be so formal and could wear pretty much whatever I wanted. What I expected going into this internship was that I would have to dress business casual every day, come to work on time, keep lunch breaks as short as possible, and not joke around too much. It has ended up being quite the opposite. Everyone I have worked with so far, hardly shows up every day in formal clothing, and has no problem cracking jokes in the middle of doing work. Lunch breaks run quite long and can involve a few games of kicker (Fussball) to pass the time. The work environment is really laid back and if you’re getting your work done, the bosses have no problem with it whatsoever, they actually join in. More often then not, people are just allowed to be themselves, wear what they want, and have as much fun at work as possible. It is the ideal set-up and I really feel like I can get more work done in an environment like this as opposed to one with more strict rules.
I have one more week left in Munich and two weeks total on the trip. Work is really speeding things up and I have some big projects coming to a close, hopefully all goes well. I am also looking forward to spending my last weekend in Germany, high in the mountains.