Keeping Busy

Week three of work is now over, and week four of the program is wrapped up.  This past week was far less eventful than the past few, as I feel like I have really changed from visiting Berlin to living in Berlin.  I am really getting used to the public transportation and the social etiquette, I’ve been finding new restaurants and hang-out spots, and I’ve made some new friends.  This week at work was super busy, we had a couple big assignments and the work really burned me out.  This meant that I didn’t do much at all after work during the week.  I took a lot of naps, watched a lot of Netflix, and spent a lot of time hanging out at our hotel’s back porch.  Some other study abroad students arrived at the hotel this week and a few of us got to know them.  It was kind of a cool feeling that we have been here long enough to be able to give them advice about things to do and how to sort out travelling through and around the city.  We’re becoming Berlin veterans!  This week was definitely the most important week of work; we basically changed our entire business model this week, and Cate and I took a big role in the decisions our bosses made.  At the end of the week, we all had a long meeting where we made some big decisions for the company, and after these big decisions we were able to call it a day early and have some free time on Friday.  The weekend was also great, we all went out both Friday and Saturday night to check out the exotic Berlin club culture and had a great time.  We had a couple great meals, and one very disappointing McDonalds breakfast.  We finished the weekend by going to the beach at one of the lakes north of Berlin which was super nice. I am very sunburnt, but I was able to get some much-needed relaxation.  The beach was a big surprise but it was almost like a real beach you’d see in the US but it was at a lake.  There were food and drink stands with really good food, and there were tons of people there.  It was one of my favorite places I’ve been to on this trip.

Something I’ve struggled to adapt to which is something that is tough to change in such a short amount of time is knowledge of a German language.  It has caused some adversity inside and outside of the workplace.  One thing that’s great is that everyone speaks English. But they do not treat English speakers well.  Germans can be pretty mean to Americans, and I have certainly had a few eye-opening experiences with bad treatment of Americans.  In most places in Europe even if English is not a commonly spoken language a lot of things have English translations.  That is not the case in Germany, so especially early on this was a problem but with time I have started to understand patterns and learn some words, so I have been able to get around a lot better.  Within the workplace the biggest problem with language is looking at old documents.  Everyone I work with speaks good English, and most of what they have done since Cate and I arrived was in English.  The biggest problem is the fact that they are currently having Cate and I redo parts of our financial and business plans.  Everything on these are in German, and that has caused some problems for us to finish assignments given to us.  They currently want us to redo some sections of our business plan, but the entire plan is in German so we have to write it in English and have someone translate it, or just rewrite the entire business plan which will probably take a week.  In a lot of ways it is frustrating, it is making me regret never getting better at another language as it would make living in a different country much easier.  There is no quick solution for this, as I can’t learn German in eight weeks, the best solution is just to ask questions and find different ways to get stuff done.  I have rewritten a big part of the financial plan in English and that has made a lot of my work much easier, and there is a chance I will end up writing a new business plan as it might be beneficial to Læmon to just have an English business plan, but things like this take a decent amount of extra effort to get what you need to get done.