This last week has been a great Finale to my stay here in Germany. I am now back in Berlin after two weeks in Munich. I finished a lot of the projects I had going with the team in Munich and said my goodbyes, which was happy and sad. Sad because I fell madly in love with the city and had to leave, happy because I know I’ll be back and it’s going to be good to get home. Over the weekend, Matthieu, a coworker, and I went to the mountains for a two-day hike. We crossed the Austrian/German border and arrived at a large town called Mittelwald (Middle Forest) and then a 15-minute bus ride to the middle of a smaller town. From there we hiked several miles through winding roads, across farms, and finally began our journey up a mountain trail. Another couple miles up the trail we got to the place where we would be staying overnight, the Wettersteinhutte. We had a few drinks, ate some traditional Speckknodel, and a Bavarian dessert of which I cannot remember the name. In all, we hiked 24 miles and reached two mountain peaks. It was amazing and I can’t wait to go back. I made a great friend and rekindled my love for nature.
I sat down with my supervisor this afternoon and discussed what the plans are for this last week. It looks like there is quite a bit on the schedule, but everything seems to be wrapping up. I have two big interviews on Thursday. One of them will be recorded in person with special camera equipment and the other will be recorded over Skype. I am excited to be carrying out the interviews on Brili’s behalf. Honestly, I have no idea how they are going to go. I have prepared as much as possible so now I guess I just have to wait for the real thing.
From what I have been able to gather working alongside and getting to know my colleagues, success in Germany is defined as a very specific thing and can only be obtained through a set means. Success means results, it means you not only have the money but the contacts, the numbers, the “data” to back it up as well. It is of course, like in many other parts of the world, evolving to encompass new techniques and methods, but has largely stayed the same. The German education system is set-up so children need to know the profession they want to pursue around the age of 8 or 9. Depending on that, It matters what grades they get, what kind of extra help they receive, and what schools they are able to get into. At that point, if they are able to get into a nice school, most pursue their masters and then their doctorate. Each of them becomes an expert in their field and works as well as studies through their twenties. This is exactly the type of thing I mean, success is results. How many internships did they participate in, how many articles did they publish, how many years did they spend studying. In Germany, you are deemed successful if you have been extremely well educated and use it to create a career that functions on the highest level of your field.
This differs greatly from the American idea of success, It doesn’t matter how you made your money, who you know, or where you went to school. If you have it, you are successful. Success has been detached from being a well-rounded individual with incredible intelligence and a diverse network of studies and expertise. I am not saying this is necessarily a bad thing, I just don’t think it is good for people to be looking up to “successful people”, who didn’t need to do much to get to where they are. For me, the journey to success is so much more important then the end product and because of that, I think the idea of success here in Germany is closer to the actual meaning. While not perfect, it still demonstrates that success doesn’t come without sacrifice and hard work. My supervisors are great examples of extremely successful people, each of them a total expert in their respective fields. They have no chip on their shoulders. They recognize where they need to learn more and where they can teach. That is why I have had such a great time with this internship, they listen to what I have to say, and ask me to back it up with “data”.