Hi readers! My name is Viv Zauhar, I have just finished my junior year at Pitt majoring in media and professional communications in the College of General Studies. I am also pursuing a certificate in television and broadcast arts, as well as the related concentration in European and Eurasian studies certificate from the European Studies Center. My concentration will focus on the ways art and culture have historically intersected in specific European countries, especially through media like journalism, television, and film.
I was born and raised in West Philadelphia, and traveling has been a large part of my upbringing. I was lucky enough to be able to visit family in China most summers as well as explore countries in Europe. Aside from that, when I’m in Pittsburgh I spend a lot of time working at Urban Tap, a gastropub with locations in Shadyside and Southside. In my free time, I enjoy second-hand shopping, baking/cooking, and watching movies at Rowhouse Cinema in Lawrenceville.
The program I will be participating in this summer is the International Internship Program in Berlin, Germany. I selected this program because I knew that I wanted to partake in a study abroad program during my time at Pitt, but having lost in-person time due to the pandemic I opted to go in the summer. Berlin is a city I’ve visited before, but to get a better understanding of the deeper culture and history will require living in the city and immersing myself in the day-to-day operations. I have not yet had any work experience in the field which is my major, so although completely new in terms of location and experience, I wanted to fulfill my internship credits abroad for a unique and distinguishing experience.
As anyone hopes when they travel, I’m looking forward to self-growth and being presented with challenges I haven’t faced before. I expect these situations to present themselves in all aspects: socially, professionally, and personally. For my internship, I’ve been lucky enough to get a position working with BerlinArtLink and its production company MONA. BerlinArtLink is a digital contemporary magazine that focuses on art and culture. I will be working for MONA, which is the publisher and founder of BerlinArtLink. As the publisher, MONA focuses on video production for BerlinArtLink, and when I am not helping with production I will be doing side research for the company! Although I’m unsure what career path I’ll take, ultimately I know that I’m interested in the convergence of art and culture and I feel extremely grateful to have a position with a company that so closely aligns with my studies.
Working with MONA will mean encountering many different artists from around the globe, and this opportunity will mean that not only will I garner a deeper understanding of contemporary art in Berlin, but I will also get glimpses into how art and culture intersect in other countries through these visiting artists that we will be interviewing. Hopefully, I will be able to make long-lasting connections with the people I work with and the visiting artists.
In the upcoming fall semester, I will be starting a new club at Pitt, a digital magazine called iGasm. This was a project I had started before I was placed with my internship, but knowing that I will be able to see the inner workings of a digital magazine gives me confidence that I will be able to apply what I learn this summer to the fall for a successful start to my organization.
While excitement and anticipation are a given, loneliness, homesickness and foreign stress are also all likely to occur. Although I am an experienced traveler, two months abroad is a long time, especially when one is no longer traveling but living. Over the past three years, I’ve had to adapt to a multitude of different living situations, as well as the pandemic which I think installed a resilience in all of us. In order to adapt to this new environment, it will require more flexibility and an open mind, maybe more open than I already have. Without my regular support system, I will have to find other ways to gain that support, and part of that will have to come from me. Although I consider myself an independent person, my time in Berlin might emulate a time after graduation, a time in which I might move cities, and find a job and a new home. It’s an exciting time, but also brings all the fears of the unknowns and uncertainties. I’m looking forward to learning more about myself both professionally and personally, facing those unknowns and uncertainties, all while learning about the art, history, and culture of Berlin and Germany.