Only one more week left in Berlin! It is completely unreal that I have now been in Berlin for almost 9 weeks. I really feel like I have become a permanent resident of the city and it will undoubtedly be weird returning to Pittsburgh. Wrapping up my second to last week at work I finalized some things with the financial controllers, helped with accounts payable team, and did some minor valuation work as well since I had recently finished up my two major projects that I had been working on for the past few weeks. Outside of the office I had a really good week as I was able to explore some really cool neighborhoods in Berlin where I went for a few runs. Additionally, I also went to the local Irish Pub to watch the US Women’s World Cup semifinal where the US beat the UK which was super fun since there were Americans, British, and Germans who were all super into the game.
As mentioned in my previous blog I had a 4 day weekend in Venice these last few days which was possibly my favorite city and trip that I have taken thus far. I was warned prior to my trip that Venice is one of the most highly visited tourist locations and that at times there may be 80,000 people visiting the city in one day, however, I never really felt like the city was too too busy or that I was not able to explore non-touristy locations. The weekend started off by arriving at the Airbnb late Thursday night after my flight took awhile to arrive at the airport. Friday consisted of a 3 hour walking tour of the less visited neighborhoods in Venice which was really cool to be able to hear about the history of the city and get more context about where I would be spending my weekend in. Following the tour I was able to get some classic italian food from a restaurant our tour guide recommended, explore a shopping area on the waterfront, explore a few more parts of the city, visit Marco Polo and Casa Nova’s houses, and cross the Rialto Bridge. Saturday I made a day trip to the surrounding islands of Murano and Burano as well as an afternoon trip to Lido Beach. It was so nice to be able to see the glass island of Murano as well as the colorful fisherman island of Burano since they are very unique and distinct in comparison to the Venice mainland. Additionally, Lido was nice as it felt good to just be able to relax and go in the warm ocean for a few hours and although I have been able to do some really cool things in Europe, I loved being able to get to visit a beach. The rest of the weekend I again was able to do some amazing things like climb to the top of the San Giorgio Bell Tower, explore the San Marco Basilica, see Doge’s Palace, sit in San Marco square, take a ride on the Vaporetto, go the the grand canal, have some more italian food, visit the San Giorgio gardens, and so much more! It was also super cool since there was guaranteed to be at least 1 gelato shop on every street so I was able to have some of the best ice cream I have ever had, however, I probably had just a little too much. It was also really nice getting a break from traffic since there are no streets in Venice and you must walk everywhere unless you take a water taxi in the canals or take the water bus on the larger waterways. All in all, it was amazing being able to see such a famous and gorgeous city like Venice!
Reflecting on my past 8 weeks in Berlin I truly think that it has been one of the most amazing, memorable, and impactful experiences of my life. The opportunity to fully immerse myself in German culture while also having a unique opportunity to play a critical role in a dual-listed and publicly traded commercial real estate firm has not only aided my professional development and future career aspirations, but also my personal development as well. Although Berlin is not what most people think of when they think of the typical study abroad locations in Europe, I would not change my decision for the world. Out of all the cities that I have visited both at home as well as my time abroad, Berlin is truly one of the most unique and culturally diverse places I have ever seen. The one thing that I really appreciate about Berlin is how cultured the city is as sometimes whenever you travel you run into locations that are filled with tourists, however, Berlin truly feels like a city that I would love to live in full time as there are always new things to do and explore. I think that the things that I am going to miss the most is the amazing public transportation system, the ability to bike everywhere in the city, being able to get a soft pretzel just about anywhere, being in one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world, being in one of the safest cities in Europe, being able to casually drink, döner shops, the beautiful parks, and being able to find a new place to explore almost every day. Nevertheless, despite all these amazing experiences that I have had I am really excited to be headed home to spend the rest of my summer with friends, see my family and my dog, go golfing, eat Chipotle, drive my car, have a few home cooked meals, be able to speak english everywhere, and have an American style breakfast.
Finally I wanted to talk about how German culture define “success” in a professional sense, what makes a successful or effective employee in German commercial real estate investments, and how it compares to that of US culture. I think that a successful employee in Germany is one that is very determined and focused on their work. I find that people here do not spend a lot of time with small talk and work extremely diligently for the time they are in the office. However, I have also found that people tend to value a strong work life balance and are not overworking themselves as much as you see in America so in order to be efficient and effective they must be this way during the time they are working. All in all, I think being a strong listener, a focused individual, and someone who is direct and to the point are all qualities that are valued in a German workplace.