Week 7

This week was a busier week for me. This past weekend I traveled to Budapest which was really exciting to see. Over the three days we were there we visited basically everything on our list of things to do. We made the uphill trek to Fisherman’s Bastion which is essentially a viewing terrace that looks out over the entire city. There is also a beautiful gothic cathedral there too. We also went to the Dohany Street Synagogue which is the largest Synagogue in Europe. Attached to this is a Jewish museum that we visited as well. Overall the experience was very moving. Lastly we went to the famous thermal baths in Budapest, which was a nice relaxing activity to have in the busy weekend. Overall it was exciting to experience the city and I hope I can go back one day to explore even more of it!

This week I also traveled to Hamburg, Germany for another site visit. Until this trip, we had only seen sites in the south of Germany so it was interesting the see how the sites would be in the north. Since we were visiting a new region, we had to work with different employees who worked that region, so I was able to meet a lot of new people from the company. We visited 4 sites in two days which was a lot but overall, they were successful. This is my second to last site visit since I have about two more weeks left at the company. The last one I will be joining is in Dresden which will be the Monday of my last week and it will only be a day trip with less sites to see.

In terms of the work culture I’ve experienced, some aspects are very common to the general German work culture, and some aspects may be more specific to my company. One of the first things I noticed when I started working, something that still surprises me even in my 7th week here, is the amount of cursing I here in the office. It is a far more common thing to swear in a German office it seems as other people on the program have said the same thing. Even in settings like a business meeting they are far blunter with that type of language. Another thing I have noticed is the direct negative feedback between employees. This is something we learned prior to actually coming to Berlin which made me nervous when I was first starting in the company. Though, I haven’t really been on the receiving-side of the negative feedback, I have noticed that it seems to make people more productive and efficient when working. Having someone be very direct with telling you what the problem is without sugar-coating the situations allows people to more easily identify the issue and quickly correct the issue. I think that this method of feedback could be really beneficial in the US because we have a tendency to glaze over issues in the office more so than confronting them head on.

            When I went on site visits to the south of Germany, I also noticed that coworkers tend to be very close and work together in a very cooperative manner. You can tell that they have good relationships with each other outside of the office setting which makes them work so well together when going through the site visits. They are more inclined to listen to differing opinions but are also not afraid to be honest with their opinions and challenge their coworkers. Overall they know how to effectively communicate to find solutions because they have built these relationships outside of the office. They also are far more proactive in ensuring their actions are moving the company forward as a whole rather than simply fulfilling their tasks for the sake of their own progress. The site visits in the north were a stark contrast to those of the south because people were less team-oriented and more individualistic. In the south people have each other’s back in situations but in the North they have a more of a “not my responsibility, not my problem” mindset. Ultimately our site visits in the south went more smoothly than the ones in the north and I think a lot of it had to do with the effective communication. The mindset that was prevalent in the south is something I will really focus on bringing back home when I start working in a similar setting. This is more of the “giver’ mindset which is essential to the success of any business.