It’s crazy to believe that I’ve been back in the states for over a week now. Readjusting to life at home has been interesting and I have definitely been kept busy since returning. Although it is nice to see friends and family again, it is still very hard not to miss the adventure of the past 9 weeks. So many new people, places and things were experience over the course of the IIP Berlin program that its almost difficult to really look back at it all as one experience. I am very happy that I was able to do this program and hopefully now I will be able to really translate those experiences into skills, lessons and knowledge that will help me excel professionally and grow personally.
As I said above, it really is difficult to summarize this entire program as one experience. However, I think its easier to really reflect upon everything and take an honest look at what took place and how it has affected and changed me by breaking things down a little. First off I would like to talk about the people that I met while on this program. Both fellow students who also participated in the IIP and people who I met at work or by chance while in Europe.
I have to say, that who I would meet was probably what I was most excited about before departing for Berlin. I knew that an experience like this would be so unique and would bring me to so many new places that I would have the opportunity to meet people I would never have had a chance to before. Waiting in the Chicago airport was where the new faces began to become familiar when I met a few fellow students from Pitt who happened to be on the same plane to Berlin as me. From that moment on I came across and was able to meet so many people through work, travels, mutual friends and by happenstance. I learned a lot and created a lot of memories with the people I met during this program and I have to say that creating these relationships and having these shared experience with people who come from such different backgrounds could perhaps be the most valuable aspect of this program. In all honesty, though, I think it will be a while before I can truly see all the value and impact that the last couple months will bring to me.
These was of course more to the program than just the new people I met. Interning in Berlin and having this experience abroad in Europe was new for me on multiple levels. It was my first office job/ real internship, my first time in Europe and my first time traveling alone. I think that having all these experiences at once honestly pushed for a lot of growth in myself and the others on the program. Taking on new responsibilities, having an openness for being uncomfortable, and really putting yourself out there were all part of what this program was for me and I know that it helped me grow a lot personally and professionally. Being responsible for myself and for my friends in a vary range of situations and new challenges, in my opinion, taught a lot of valuable lessons.
Another part of this program that had a large impact on me was the language. It was a really amazing experience to be able to finally put to use the years of studying the German language and culture. It means a lot to see a longterm goal from childhood come to fruition. As a kid my grandmother would tell me to study German when I was old enough and at the first chance I had, as a freshman in high school, I began to learn German. Fast forward to this May and I was able to see my years of hard work, determination, and dedication to a goal come to fruition and actual create amazing and valuable experiences for me. I still have work to do, but it was extremely satisfying to sit back and realize I had just had a full conversation with my coworker all in German and that I understood it all. I think that was a very beneficial part of the program for me and I’m glad I was able to take advantage of the opportunity.
Overall the program was really an experience and a half. The traveling, new culture and languages helped me grow and thrive while outside of a traditional comfort zone. Meeting many new people, being in new professional situations and taking on new and challenging responsibilities allowed me to learn and orient myself professionally. Everything else along the way I’m sure will have an impact that will become clearer and clearer as time goes on. I had an amazing time and I think I gained a lot. My goal now is to take this experience and capitalize upon it in order to show my growth as an individual and a professional. With the ability to communicate the experience had and value gained, I think that I will be able to use what this program was to kickstart a successful career and make me an overall more well rounded person.