Context is important anywhere you go, and this applies especially when abroad! Although knowing a passing amount of German has certainly helped me in certain situation in which I wouldn’t have to use context (directions, menus, etc. etc.), using context clues to understand words I don’t know has improved my vocabulary a bit and my overall ability to navigate Berlin with little to no hiccups. Culturally, using context clues has also been very important. While it is pretty easy for me to adjust to other cultures (see: growing up not entirely American), using my surroundings and environment to observe what is happening has helped me to come to my own conclusions about what I should be doing in certain situations. This applies to big things, like how to act with other adults and colleagues, to small things, like where to stand when the U-Bahn stops (the answer: not in front of the door!!). At my internship, using context has helped me to understand the work and quality that is expected of me, especially when I am unfamiliar with German words that are more office-centric (eg. Binder, hole punching). With my supervisor, I am sometimes given tasks that he is not completely sure of how they will go. To make sure I’m bringing out my best work, I usually put myself in the shoes of the client or person who is receiving my presentation, and use that context and my greater understanding to see if what I’m producing is effective.
As we near the end of the IIP program, I have found this week to be so bittersweet, and you guessed, some more extreme levels of denial. While I am sad that my internship is coming to a close, I took the day off on Monday to soak in another day in Berlin by myself. I took that time to walk around Kreuzberg, an area I have found myself to really love and identify with. This trip included walking along the river, taking my grand old time window shopping, and the Ideal European Way to Pass the Time, sitting at a coffee shop, sipping on a cappuccino, staring out the window (I ended the day with a decidedly un-German thing to do: watching Spiderman in English). This past week at work has been understandably been filled with more filler tasks, although it appears that we are one step closer in getting Stein & Partners to be an officially registered company on We Chat! Even though I am leaving, I think being able to help establish the company’s presence on this platform will be beneficial for it in the long run, especially in establishing relationships with Chinese businesses and partners (We Chat is a hugely popular messaging and social media app in China).
As we near the end of the work week, my bittersweet and denial levels have spiked more and more. Our program was able to meet one last time with Britta, Anne-Marie, and Josh to talk about our internship experiences over beer and currywurst in the lovely Templehof airport. Being able to be with the big group made me sad in remembering that this would probably be one of the last times we would all be together in Germany, and would probably be one of the last times we would see our lovely and wonderful Intrax contacts, who worked so hard to allow us to work in Berlin. After dinner, some of us went out (and returned to the rooftop bar!) to celebrate Yuan’s birthday, yet ANOTHER bittersweet and denial moment as we celebrated, the knowledge that this birthday would be the last of the trip in the back of our minds (can you see a reoccurring theme for pretty much this entire week?). Yesterday, Yuan and I also went out to lunch with some of our coworkers, one of which we have become pretty good friends with, as she is one of the few younger people working at the company. Overall, I’m filled with so many emotions regarding this program ending, and I could probably go on for days and days about what I am feeling in my head and my heart, because there are about five hundred things I could say. But for now, I’ll leave it at this: I’m so sad to leave. I love this city, and I love these people, and I’m holding myself to the fact that I’m going to come back to Berlin in the future to live and work, because how could I not?