Looking Back on Berlin

The first week of my IIP program largely consisted of in-country orientations. During this time we did some tours of Berlin, saw some iconic monuments and learned some of the German language. I also began to get to know the other people in the program. The few days we had for orientation went by very quickly and soon enough it was time to begin my internship. I worked at Gramercy Global Media, a firm that specializes in digital marketing and web design.  The work I performed consisted of writing Google search ads, creating Facebook and Instagram ads, translating web pages and product descriptions and creating SEO titles and tags for clients websites. My tasks were largely focused on the digital marketing aspect of the firm’s business because those were the projects that were completed by the Berlin office, the New York office handled the majority of the web design projects. I worked in a small two room office with four other people (including another intern) and I got to know them throughout the course of the program. 

Two weeks after starting my internship I travelled outside of Berlin for the first time. Germany observes a national holiday on Ascension Thursday so I was able to take off work on Friday and have a four day weekend to experience a different city. My first trip was to Munich.  I wanted to travel to Bavaria because I had heard that the culture of the region is very different from the culture of the rest of Germany. I travelled with two other students from the program and we were able to explore the city and get a sense of the culture. We were also able to visit major sites around the city such as the Olympic Park and the Dachau Concentration Camp. I also had off  the Monday after the next weekend because Germany also has a national holiday for Pentecost. I was able to take one more day off so I took off the following Tuesday and travelled to the historic city of Dubrovnik, Croatia for four days. This was a much more relaxing weekend, I spend the time exploring the city and soaking in the culture. I then returned to Berlin where I would stay for some time.

I spent the next three weeks in Berlin exploring the city, experiencing the culture, and visiting major museums, parks and cultural sites.  I was even able to participate in a sustainability day sponsored by Coca-Cola where I, along with several other volunteers and students from the program, picked up garbage in a local park.  I did not leave Berlin again until the end of June when I travelled to Budapest for a weekend. It was a normal weekend so I kept myself busy to make sure that I got the most full experience possible in Budapest. I was able to experience the food and culture of the city and see many of the iconic locations around the city in a very short time.  My final weekend in Berlin was another busy one consisting of day trips to the cities of Cologne and Hamburg. Each of these cities was unique with slightly different culture than that of Berlin so it helped me gain a very well rounded sense of German Culture.

This was my first professional experience in the field of marketing.  As a result, I learned a lot about marketing in the real world and how to apply the concepts that I learn in the classroom. I also grew personally.  Over the course of this program I was able to gain a very deep and unique insight into another culture. I was able to see the daily practices and habits of Germans as well as speak with local people to get a sense of their thoughts and beliefs.  Ultimately the culture of Berlin is not too different from the culture that I have seen here in the U.S. Berlin is a very international city so the German culture has been diluted (it is much more prevalent in the smaller German cities and more rural areas). Germans are very direct and open about their thoughts, especially regarding politics, which allowed me to learn a lot just by having casual conversations with my coworkers and people in the city.   

I have learned and grown a lot through this entire experience.  This time in Germany has expanded my perspective and given my insight and respect for European lifestyles. Ultimately, I gained more cultural awareness and sensitivity from the experience which will make me a better local and global citizen.  The skills and knowledge I learned from this program will make me an asset to any employer since I have enhanced communication skills including the ability to understand and communicate with people from the German culture. But more importantly, I have gained the awareness to respect other cultures and the knowledge to properly prepare before communicating with people of other cultures to prevent miscommunication or offense.