In a startling contrast from the previous weeks weather, the weather the previous seven days in Berlin has been very cool, with highs ranging from the high 60’s to low 70’s. While quite a few people thought the weather chilly and unpleasant, I found great relief and pleasure in the change in temperature. Most important was the uptake in productivity that can be seen in work. While two weeks ago, most everyone’s time was preoccupied with surviving the heat, there was a visible difference in the performance in the office as people found more energy to work and didn’t feel as preoccupied with the weather. It also just made everything more bearable, as the lack of air conditioning, or lack of powerful air conditioning, often made many buildings and transport hard to be in as you did not feel much relief from the outside.
This more bearable weather also made doing activities around Berlin much more enjoyable, as you didn’t feel as though you were going to melt while just standing. On Saturday, I took an excursion down to Potsdam. While just a 45 minute train ride from Berlin proper, there is much different feel in the city. It has much more of a small town vibe. With many of the small quaint shops and restaurants that one thinks of when thinking of Europe. The people also had a much different energy about them than in Berlin as they felt much more personal and warm compared to the more cool and independent vibes received from many Berliners. All of these things helped to contribute the small town vibe given off by the city.
However, the highlight of the city is Sanssouci and the surrounding Sansouccipark. Originally built in 1745 by Fredrick the Great as a pleasure palace, the palace has an incredible history despite its small size and limited time of usage. While built later on in the period of the great palaces of Europe, the palace was built for a very specific purpose, and while fitting the style of the day, still presents many differences from the likes of Schonbrunn, Versailles, or the Peterhof. What makes the palace so unique is the fact that it was entirely built for the pleasure of Frederick the Great and was built as almost an afterthought by the monarch. This is reinforced by the fact that Sanssouci literally means “without a care”. Because of this, the palace has one of the most unique feels of any of the palaces that I’ve visited on this trip. While inspired by the Rococo style, which was very popular at the day, the palace was the first, and best example of Frederician Rococo which, while following the tenets of classical Rococo, is heavily influenced by nature and leisure, reinforcing the care free attitude of the Palace. This was also reinforced by the palaces structure and purpose. What is the most startling feature of the palace is its size. Given that it is only one floor and 12 rooms, it is more akin to a country home. However, this was by design. Given that this was first and foremost a pleasure palace, it was intentionally built small so that state functions would not be held in it, allowing Frederick to keep it more personal when he would stay in the summer months. This size also kept it more intimate and allowed for the fostering of enlightenment ideals, with one of the palaces most famous guests being Voltare.
Moving outside, the palace grounds are built with a similar motif of nature and a carefree lifestyle. One of the coolest features are the terrace vineyard built into the back of the palace, which helped with Fredrick’s nickname for the palace which he called his personal vineyard. The grounds are also very spread out and atypical of the gardens of other contemporary European palaces of the time. Instead of the typical symmetrical flower beds and hedgerows typically seen, the main gardens branch off to the west of the property and have many random branches with beds and features built in to the natural landscape, again reinforcing the harmony with nature and leisure. All in all, while not the grandest of palaces, Sanssouci offers an amazing contrast to the opulence and grandeur present at Versailles and Schonbrunn.
From my time in Germany, there does not appear to be much of a difference in what makes a successful employee. This might be due to the company at which I work at and the field I work in. Because my company is a finance company and one in the finance field, I feel that the measures of success are similar to what you would expect to find in any start up that you would see in America. The same holds true for any domestic finance company. Especially when it comes to the finance aspect, because the field is so international and globalized, it creates a very similar set of circumstances wherever you may go. And because of this, I feel as though the measures of success are the same as in America.