In and Out of Berlin

The ticking clock gets a bit louder every day, and in tandem, the urgency to get through my list of restaurants, book stores, galleries, and museums elevates. Over these next two weeks coming up, I’m really trying to steam through the rest of the things on my Berlin list. So far, I’ve already knocked out quite a few eateries, some of us went to Han West, a popular restaurant for dumplings with some other students from Emery University. I was also able to go to a boulangerie, La Maison, that had been on my list for a while. It was nice to go after work and sit and read for a couple of hours with a cappuccino and sandwich. I’ve realized that in order to tackle my list I need to start utilizing my time after work. Luckily, my hours are pretty great. I only work six hours a day because I spend so much of my free time attending gallery openings and other events. I start at 10 am and end at 4 pm, but my boss offered the option of coming in early so I could leave earlier if I wanted to catch a museum or gallery before it closed.

This week I was able to go to a video shoot for my company. The production company, MONA, films a lot of videos for gallery openings and exhibitions. At Galerie Judin, a new exhibition was on display by the American painter Ian Davis. This was a gallery opening I was planning on going to in my free time, so it was awesome to see the space and the art before it was even open to the public. I was able to meet the artist and hear him talk about his work, and the cameraman Frank even enlisted me to help him set up his filming equipment. I was honestly really surprised he was letting a complete stranger handle his camera equipment. It was another really cool job opportunity that I didn’t think I would be doing.

ZauharV15, Painting by Ian Davis

I also took this weekend to use my allotted two days off to visit a friend in Munich. I visited Munich last summer while I was traveling alone, but it was great to go back and reaffirm how much I love the city. It’s hard to compare to Berlin, but the German culture feels more prevalent there since it is not as international as Berlin. While in Munich I was able to go to a couple of great contemporary art museums, one I had been to last summer and another one that my boss recommended. She specifically pointed out the steam sculptures to me, and I thought that besides the steam art being really unique in and of itself, it was especially interesting to see how viewers interacted with it, as the steam filled the whole room and you could walk through it. I was also able to go to the Englischer Garten, where people surf, swim, play volleyball and relax. It’s definitely one of my favorite gardens, and I remember the last time when I was there the weather wasn’t so nice, so I felt super fortunate to be there on such a sunny day. This morning I took the train back to Berlin at 7 am and I arrived around noon and went straight to work from the train station.

ZauharV16, Fujiko Nakaya Steam Sculpture at Haus der Kunst

There have definitely been moments of miscommunication in my workplace, but it was much more frequent in the beginning. Oftentimes, my boss would mention a task to me without directly telling me to do it, and I was under the impression that she was just explaining more things to me about the workplace. Soon I realized that she was actually telling me to do those things. I think we’ve both learned to communicate better with each other, and I’ve also become more comfortable speaking up and asking questions. Germany is typically regarded as a low-context culture, so I arrived in Berlin thinking that orders would be very clear, feedback would be very blunt, and the workplace would be very organized and structured, but that hasn’t been my experience. The miscommunication might be due to my workplace, but I also think that between the two branches of my company there is not enough communication. Something that I do think is true is the feedback I recieve. Everyone mostly says what they mean, and sometimes language also plays a role in that. My workplace is international, so there are different cultural backgrounds, and sometimes people will use words that might seem harsh in the U.S. Other times, people will blatantly say they don’t like something. This typically doesn’t bother me since I prepared myself for it, but I also remind myself that I might have a stronger connotation of a word than my coworkers, and I don’t take it to heart, but ultimately I’m grateful for all and any feedback since I’m here to learn and expand my professional and workplace knowledge.