Uncrossing Wires

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Guten Tag everyone! After finishing my seventh week in Berlin, it is hard to believe that I will be leaving the city in less than two weeks. I am really taking this time to reflect on what I have done and what I have left on my to do list before leaving Germany, while also trying to relax and enjoy some me time. On Tuesday, I checked off a new restaurant on my list and got dumplings with some other students studying abroad in Berlin. Something that I love about Berlin is how much great food from many different types of cuisines here. I did not do anything other than work on work on Wednesday and Thursday, as I have been trying to combat my perpetual exhaustion and burnout from being in the city so long. I continued this with a night in on Friday, but then I decided to have a fun self-care weekend.

Brandenburg Gate

Berlin is a huge tourist city, and I have been trying to make it to the main historical sites but spreading them out so that I don’t feel like I’m cramming them all into one or two weeks. Saturday I took a trip to, arguably, the most famous Berlin monument – the Brandenburg Gate. I somehow managed to go seven weeks without seeing it, which is insane considering it’s right in the middle of the city. Anyhow, I finally saw it and snapped a couple tourist pics before taking my iced coffee and book into the Tiergarten and having a little reading session. Iced coffee is actually pretty rare here, so I will take any chance to have some. While in the Tiergarten, I went to see some of the monuments scattered throughout the park. I saw the Goethe Monument, the Memorial to Homosexuals Persecuted Under Nazism, and the Beethoven-Haydn-Mozart Memorial. There are historical monuments, memorials, and sights everywhere you go in Berlin, which is really interesting to see. I spent Saturday night out with some new friends also studying abroad in Berlin, who I then saw at the Mauerpark flea market again on Sunday. A friend from Pitt actually came to Berlin after his program ended, so I got to catch up with him as well, which was really cool and gave me some nostalgia about Pittsburgh and all my friends I miss.

Saturday Night with Friends

At work last week our focus was on valuation and key performance indicators. The KPI project, in particular, has been the source of increased communication between my boss and us interns. Throughout this internship, Dylan and I have been trusted with some pretty important tasks for LÆMON, which is a big responsibility. We have redone the business plan in English, updated the financial plan, and conducted research for a possible business expansion in 2023. With big projects comes a lot of communication, which I was prepared for coming to Germany. On the scale of low to high context, Germany falls on the lower end. This means that they are very precise and direct with instructions in the workplace, which I think has been mostly true for us. Even though we have experienced miscommunication, mostly due to the language differences, Dylan and I are usually given instruction on what our boss expects, and we are told when it is not up to par. Sometimes the issue arises where we receive very direct instructions, but still manage to misunderstand a bit due to small changes in wording. These issues are always resolved quickly, though, because our boss will tell us exactly what should be different and talk the problem out with us to find a solution before she leaves us on our own to finish the task. Sugarcoating is not a thing in Germany, which I fortunately mentally prepared myself for before leaving this summer. Even though our boss is blunt with directions and critiques, she is very nice and we can tell that German culture is just very focused on being efficient and not wasting time on unnecessary words.

With Covid, a lot of workplaces have been hybrid and some of the other people in the program work from home a couple days a week. Luckily, Dylan and I work in such a small startup that we are able to go into the office everyday. Obviously, with Covid still being an issue, everyone has to be a little more cautious about going into work while feeling under the weather. There have been a few times that I made the call to text my boss about working from home instead of going into the office because I wasn’t feeling great, but this definitely makes collaboration more difficult. The work environment at LÆMON is very inclusive and we end up talking to the few other people in the office a lot for questions and information we might need. When someone has to stay home, it can make communication more difficult since we all go through Microsoft Teams and it is really easy to miss a message in the chat. Not being able to get an answer with a simple “hi” from across the table makes working on projects less efficient and more frustrating, but I still understand why it is important to be more cautious with the slightest sign of illness at this point in time.

I am really looking forward to my last two weeks, but feel sad at the same time. It’s hard to believe this is my eighth blog post, and I hope everyone has enjoyed them so far!

Tschüss!

Caitlin Jarrell