Week 9- Professional Development

I am now back in the United States and it is very bittersweet. Staying in Berlin for two months has had a profound effect on me. This was my first experience where I was leaving completely independently and I was doing it in a foreign country. I learned a lot about what it means to live independently and I have developed a lot as a person. Another big goal of mine coming into this internship was to improve my German skills. I can say that I accomplished that goal. My German abilities are currently the best that they have ever been. Getting to live in Germany put my language skills to the test every day because I would try to speak German as much as possible. Whenever I was outside of work and interacting with native Germans, I would always try to speak German with them. While I was at work, I also spoke a lot of German with my co-workers. The part about my German that improved the most while I was there was my ability to understand German much easier. Understanding people speaking German when they are talking fast has always been hard for me, but now I feel much more comfortable when conversing in German.
I am going to miss Berlin a lot and I will always love the city. I have been able to see and do several amazing things while in Berlin that I will remember for the rest of my life. My favorite part about Berlin was that there was never a boring moment while I was there. Berlin offers so much to do on a daily basis, like going to the countless museums and parks. I wish could have spent more time in Berlin, but there is also a part of me that was ready to leave Berlin. One thing that I missed about the US was my family and friends. Two months is a long time and because of the time difference, sometimes it was hard to contact my family and friends. Another thing that I missed about the US was having more home-cooked meals. I was eating out most of the time while staying in Berlin, so I am happy to be home to have some home-cooked meals.
I hope to return to Berlin someday and even potentially live there one day. I have been studying German for the past seven years, and one of the main reasons why I choose to pursue German was to be able to live and work there one day. I love the culture of Germany and I believe that there are some advantages to living in Germany than in the US. One example of this is that Germans are given a lot more vacation days to use throughout the year. I believe that this allows people to do more and have more fun with their lives. Working year-round and hardly getting any days off is hard and it can take a toll on people after years of doing the same thing.
One big difference that I noticed between American and German work culture was the way that they gave feedback. In US culture, feedback is given in a much different way than in other countries and cultures. In the US, when giving feedback, it is very common that there will be positives and negatives given to the worker. We are taught in class that if you have to give feedback to someone, you shouldn’t just give negative feedback because it may discourage the worker. In Germany, they do not feel the need to accompany the negative feedback along with the positive feedback because it is indirect and can be inefficient. In general, Germans are much more direct and they won’t “beat around the bush”, whereas in America, we do this quite often and the positive compliments are an example of this. At work, my supervisors would only give me feedback if I made a mistake in my projects. At first, this was a little confusing because I wasn’t sure if I was doing my work correctly because I wasn’t getting any feedback on it. They then told me that they would only give me feedback if I messed something up and that no feedback is positive feedback. I believe that this mechanism was very effective because it didn’t waste any time. I don’t need positive reinforcement on every project I do, and the most important part about receiving feedback is correcting the things that you are doing incorrectly. This way of giving feedback makes sure it corrects what you are doing wrong without wasting a lot of time.