An Eventful Weekend Away

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Another week in Berlin filled with new foods, hobbies, and experiences. This past week, after being inspired by roller-skating events I attended in prior weeks, I decided I wanted to get my own pair. I traveled across the city to buy a pair, and I’ve been going to Tempelhof Airfield in the evenings after work. Tempelhof is where the old airport used to be, and now it’s a great open space to roller skate and watch the sunset. I’ve found it’s a great way for me to decompress after work and get in some much-needed physical activity. Fortunately, I grew up playing hockey, so rollerblading came naturally. I’m looking forward to finding other cool spots in the city to rollerblade in the future.

Rollerblading is great, but the highlight of this past week was a weekend trip to Budapest. In Germany, when you work a full month, you can choose any two days to make vacation days. Six others in the program and myself chose this past Friday and Monday so we could explore a new city. Berlin is the only European city I’ve been to, so I was super excited to experience a city I’ve been wanting to visit for several years. We got an Airbnb located within walking distance of all the best restaurants and many of the top attractions. In my mind, Budapest is known for its nightlife and cool architecture. I came in with high expectations, but even so, I was blown away. On Saturday night, the whole group went to Széchenyi Baths for an event called Sparty. Széchenyi Baths is one of Budapest’s most famous naturally heated thermal baths, and every Saturday night, it gets turned into a massive bath party. Imagine a massive pool party in pools surrounded by beautiful Budapest architecture with flashing-colored lights and performers of all kinds, with water that is closer to hot tub temperature than normal pool temperature. Sparty was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. The flashing lights, the splashing, the loud music, the people screaming and having a good time, all made it a surreal experience. Half the time I had no clue where I was. 

The next night, we got to see more of the city. We started with a Hungarian meal at a restaurant near our Airbnb. I had a beef stew with egg barley, which was great. Next, we hopped on the Danube for a river cruise to see the city lit up at night. The highlight of the cruise was seeing the parliament building, which was unlike any building I had ever seen before.

Then, a few of us went to a club unlike anything I had seen. I’ve noticed I’ve said that about several things in Budapest but it’s completely true, the things I saw there were so foreign to me. This club was free to get into, which was the first thing that surprised me, and it featured 7 dancefloors and 18 bars. Unlike Berlin, this club played exclusively American music. A night to remember for sure. 

A couple of things really took me by surprise in Budapest. I was not expecting it to be so affordable. Compared to the US and Berlin everything was cheap. Food, clothes, and tickets were all cheap which made everything more enjoyable. I was also surprised by the amount of English. I’m not kidding when I say I heard more English than Hungarian. Sure we were in the touristy areas, but even so, I was expecting it to be more like Berlin where German is clearly the dominant language. For some reason, I also thought it would feel a little more unsafe than it did. The most nervous I felt was during the Wizz Air go-around on the way there and almost getting stranded in Oslo on the way back. Safe to say, I felt pretty safe throughout the whole trip.

Back in Berlin, I’ve been pretty busy. Work is picking up, so I’ve had to find a balance between my internship and fun. I’ve been assigned some bigger projects without step-by-step instructions, so I’m working on figuring those out. These projects often involve other people in the company, and I need their support to complete the project. Coming into this program, my leadership style was always super hands-off. I was more of a lead-by-example kind of guy, and while I still am, I feel like I’ve gotten better at communicating what I need from people. I’ve learned that people are busy, and typically an intern’s project isn’t first on their priority list. I must make sure I reach out to the people I need to help me and make sure I’m clear with what I need from them. Coming out of this internship, I am confident I will have figured out how to be a more effective hands-on leader without micro-managing everyone.

Parliament building seen from a Danube river boat tour
A fantastic flat white for half the price of any Starbucks drink
An iconic Budapest ruin bar