An Unexpected Turn

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With only two weeks left, my weekend plans got derailed. I wanted to go to visit Potsdam but unfortunately, I got a crippling headache and spent Friday and Saturday laying in bed. Thankfully, on Sunday my head was feeling a bit better so I was able to get out and go to Mauerpark for some lunch. On the way to the flea market, I stopped at the Berlin Wall Memorial on Bernauer Strasse. Many of my weekend plans have been spent seeing various historical memorials or museums. This was important to me because it was the first time I saw a piece of the Berlin wall very close. I was shocked by how thin it was. However, the metal rods that were inside the concrete would prevent people from being able to cross through the wall.

This tunnel allowed 57 people to escape under the wall.

Following a more relaxed weekend, my company went to an offsite company meeting. This was a really interesting experience for me because I was able to meet and speak with everyone from the company. Additionally, I got a deeper sense of the work that my company does and exactly how much each person has to do for one project. This meeting was a day and a half event so we stayed overnight which meant I got to spend the night in an old castle! When we returned on Tuesday, I didn’t have to go to work which was really nice because I had the afternoon free to do whatever I wanted. I used this time to visit the Topography of Terror. A few different people had recommended it to me and the museum was full of history. I really found the information to be laid out well and constructed well for the museum. This museum was on the ground of the second part of the Berlin wall that I was able to see. This portion was much more centrally located and had much more destruction to the segment. Overall, I had a really good week and it’s hitting me that my time is coming to an end so soon.

Germany has been a fantastic place for gaining work experience. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to work as an intern abroad for the summer because it’s provided me with a strong foundation to return home and look for jobs that will start my career. One of the biggest differences between German work culture is the work stops. The people at my company are highly productive during their work hours, about 7 hours a day, and then they return home and work is done. By maximizing productivity during set hours, they are able to stop working when they leave. The US has more of an expectation that employees check their emails after hours and finish projects. My coworkers could gather outside of work and the conversations will not be about work and how the next project will be completed. Therefore, success in my host country I think is defined more by the work you are able to get done during designated hours. My company recently had an offsite company meeting. We talked about the company during the day but after the meeting hours we talked about everything else. The most successful employees in my company are able to do their jobs well during the 40 hours allotted and leave the tasks when it’s time to go home. One thing that people struggle with a little bit is meeting tight deadlines set by the partners. One of the associate partners really stresses the importance of saying that the deadline may not be achievable given the other tasks that need to be done and that it’s not worth working extra because that will lead to burnout. Additionally, I think success at my company is not shown the same way I was told it would be presented before arriving. Someone had told me that there would be less praise for tasks well done but rather more criticism from tasks that need to be worked on. My experience has been that everyone that deserves praise for doing a job well done has received it and I haven’t heard many negative things. I think most of the employees in my company are successful. I think the largest difference between Germany and the US is that Germany has successful people that are able to create a work life balance that allows them to enjoy their life and in the US many of the people that are seen as successful have money but no time to spend it because they are working tirelessly.