One and Done

With only one more weekend in Berlin and one more week of my internship remaining, I am feeling such a mix of emotions. It felt like the last eight weeks passed in the blink of an eye! At the same time, I feel like I have been able to travel and sightsee more than I ever would have imagined. This past weekend, I traveled to Budapest, Hungary for a short trip. Even though I was only there for two days, I was able to visit every place I wanted and more! I got to see the Parliament building, which is right along the Danube River. It’s so beautiful, especially when it is lit up at night and the reflection sparkles on the water. I also saw the Fisherman’s Bastion, which is a big terrace on a hill overlooking the city. The view from the top is amazing! You can see the entire city extending in all directions. Thankfully we had great weather for pictures!

After that, I was able to see some of Budapest’s most famous castles and take a canoe ride on a small pond. One thing that really surprised me to learn is that most of Budapest’s castle are not very old! I was expecting the architecture to be less modern, but the buildings looked really new. A lot of the ones we saw were only about a hundred years old! I had no idea that Budapest was so rich with recent history.

I also got to head over to one of the little islands situated within the river, Margaret Island. You could tell it was a really popular place for tourists and locals alike to take a walk through the park, relax, and get something to eat. After being in a big city for two months with so little “green”, it was really nice to be in a place with so much nature – and shade! The grass extended as far as you could see, and there were big trees popping up throughout. The experience was so tranquil, with everyone taking naps under the big trees or having picnics. In the center of the park, there was a beautiful fountain with synchronized spouts that danced around. It was like a mini Bellagio water show! The food in Budapest was definitely the best part! It was really inexpensive, and they had some really neat dishes. Pretty much everything was wrapped in bacon! They had all kinds of meat stuffed with cheese, sauce, vegetables and pasta on the side. It was definitely a delicious destination!

Those two days in Budapest made an unforgettable experience – one that I never would have had without this study abroad program. I feel so fortunate to have had so many wonderful experiences during my time in the IIP. This program has also shown me a lot of the differences between work culture in America and in Europe. At my company specifically, I have felt a greater emphasis on teamwork than I have back home. The success of the company – the collective success of everyone’s individual efforts – is much more valuable than one person’s accomplishments. I actually had a conversation about this with one of my coworkers, and she said that she felt like Americans’ careers took over their lives. Her perception was that the American idea of success is working harder, taking on more hours, and having more individual responsibility. But in Germany, there is potential for laws that will shorten the already short work week! A successful German is productive and diligent, but they also know how to take time to rest. In Germany, there is a heavier emphasis on vacation time than there is in the U.S., and I think it gives people a chance to “reboot” so that they don’t experience burnout. Most of my coworkers have taken two-week long vacations this summer, and the benefits are so evident. They come back ready to contribute to the team and work on furthering the company’s goals. This turns the stereotype of a cutthroat, competitive business environment on its head. It is really refreshing to see managers, interns, and everyone in between supporting each other to help the company grow. In the end, that will benefit everyone the most. By their example, I have been able to see more than ever the value of being a team player and making sacrifices for the advancement of something more important than yourself. I am so grateful for all that this experience – and my amazing coworkers – has taught me.

Until next time,

Kayla