Success but Make it German

Guten Tag! I can’t believe that I just finished my eighth week in Berlin, but this entire program has really just flown by. I kept saying that I didn’t want to focus on how much time I had left because I didn’t want to think about leaving the city, but the end still arrived so much quicker than I wanted it to. My main goal for this week is to just enjoy the city and reflect on the past eight weeks before getting on a train to my next destination.

This past Monday I went and checked off another restaurant, Han West. This noodle place had a pretty long line, but the food was absolutely amazing. This meal is just another example of the great food that’s available around every corner in Berlin, and with so many different cuisine options. Speaking of food, I took my fourth and final trip to the street food market at Markthalle Neun on Thursday. I then met up with some friends and visited a couple new hangout spots in the city, because I was fortunate enough to get last Friday off of work. A big part of Berlin social culture is the techno and club life, which they take very seriously. It’s very common to pass people coming home around 8am or even later, because this city truly does not ever sleep.

Han West Noodles and Bao

Techno is a huge part of the culture here, so much that they used to host the Love Parade, which is a giant techno parade through the entire city that lasts about eight hours. This year they revived it under the name “Rave the Planet” for the first time in 12 years, because the 2010 Love Parade ended tragically with a mass panic and 21 casualties. It was honestly a historical experience to be a part of, even though I only joined for about 30 minutes on my way to dinner Saturday night. The entire city came alive for this event, and even people just passing by took a minute to walk with the parade. After I exited the crowd, we tried out an Indian restaurant in Mitte, right near Alexanderplatz and the TV Tower. I have a much better handle on the neighborhoods and train stops of Berlin now that I have been here for eight weeks, so I can actually get to this area without any help from Maps.

My going out experience on Saturday night was probably one of my favorite nights in Berlin, especially because it was our last weekend all together. I went to a place that is known as “the birthplace of techno in Berlin”, which was a great cultural experience, even as someone who came to Berlin with a neutral attitude towards techno music. This club, along with some other places I have gone while here, reflect my “yes” attitude that I vowed to maintain while in Berlin. I wanted to be open to new experiences, and I would say that I achieved that. The girls in the program then ended the weekend with some American-themed fun at Volksfest, a big carnival held in northern Berlin every summer. We all agreed that it felt like a very American experience within Germany, but also like an event that not many tourists go to. They spoke much more German to us there than they do in the main city, which was a cool way for me to try and use a little German.

Though I am very confident that I succeeded in exceeding my own goals for experiencing the city, succeeding within the workplace is a very different topic. After working seven weeks at a German start-up, I think I can identify what counts as success in the workplace here. Much like in American internships, I think that the Germans would identify professional success for an intern as contributing as much as possible during the course of your internship. At least for my company, we were very focused on receiving a task, completing it, and revising it until it was absolutely perfect. I think the willingness to take criticism and apply it to provide your boss with the result they requested is a huge part of succeeding here. Overall, I think willingness to learn is also very important in order to be an effective intern. Anyone can receive a project and give up after getting stuck, but good interns find solutions to keep working and reach the end goal. I think that success is one thing I can say is similar within the US and Germany. Both countries put an emphasis on working hard to get great results, so that part did not feel much different.

I am going to spend my last week of work trying to tie up loose projects while also going to see last-minute sights after I leave the office. It will be sad to pack up and leave, but I am so grateful for my experience here.

Auf Wiedersehen!

Caitlin Jarrell