My last week in Berlin has been so bittersweet. While there are a few things back home that I miss, I am dreading leaving Berlin. This city has been such a great home this summer and I surely will miss all it has to offer. As I wrapped up my last full weekend, I visited the TV tower, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, the Brandenburg Gate and a carnival. This week my parents and one of my brothers are coming to meet me at the end of the program to go on a tour of Germany with me. I’m so excited because I can share some of my favorite pieces of Berlin with them! The last things I will be doing to round out my trip are going to the Wall Museum at Checkpoint Charlie, going on an Unterwelten tour, touring the Reichstag, and seeing the East Side Gallery. I think I really made the most of my time by seeing all the sights and historical landmarks I intended to see as well as doing fun things in between. This experience was definitely unique since many of the other students we met had much more free time to go do fun things due to not having a full-time internship, but this was a very welcome challenge. Hopefully the future will allow me to return.
This trip to Berlin has easily been one of the best experiences of my life. It combined a multitude of goals I had for myself and provided me with so many opportunities. From exploring the history of Berlin including the Holocaust and the persecution of Jewish people, to completing my first internship, to being able to travel to a place I have dreamed of going to for years, this experience was life changing. I gained so much knowledge and so many skills from my internship, but another amazing piece was all the knowledge and skills I gained outside of my internship living life in Berlin. One of my interests in coming to Berlin was the intense history of the city since I had learned about Germany in both my history classes and my German classes. My history classes reviewed the terror that occurred during the Holocaust, but my German classes provided a more in-depth history for Germany and its culture as a whole. One of the most beneficial parts of this program is the length. 8 working weeks and a week to get oriented with the city was enough time to be busy all the time but also be able to see a substantial portion of the city and really be able to experience life like a local. The length afforded me the time to see many of the museums I wanted to see as well as not having extended days all the time to cram several things into one day. One of the most emotionally taxing museums I visited was the Jewish Museum. I was glad that I was able to visit that museum on a day by itself because it would have been difficult for me to want to view anything so heavy. However, this trip was focused on an internship which also played a key role in my experience. In my previous work roles, I have always worked on my feet in customer service jobs. Transitioning from being on my feet working and moving around all day to sitting at a desk was a little challenging for me because I had to try harder to stay focused and on task. This in conjunction with a lot more freedom was the perfect opportunity for me to create my own healthy work habits. Now, it is easy for me to stay focused and work efficiently because my habits allow me to take short breaks and move around so I can give my thoughts a rest. Then, when I come back my focus is refreshed. Academically and professionally, this internship has created the structure I needed to start my career. It taught me a multitude of things but the most important thing I have learned is how to take some time to do a little bit of research to then present a thorough project in return. This has boosted my confidence in the professional world, and I feel immensely more prepared to start my career come December. Initially upon coming to Berlin I was also nervous about how I would fit in with the culture. I wanted to present myself in a way that was respectful of the traditions of the culture here. One thing that really challenged that was the large number of people that spoke English. One interesting place that I visited was Volksfest Berlin which was a month and a half long carnival. This carnival was pretty large and most people in the area spoke German and had little to no English language knowledge. I was surprised that this was the place that created the most German language experience for me, but I was happy to be able to practice my skills. This internship and experience abroad have cultivated skills and experiences that will guide my future. The opportunity to meet new people that I may see around campus provided me with an extended Pitt network since I may have never otherwise met these students. Likewise, this experience will help me as I return home and look for post-graduation careers. I hope that in my career I can find a job that is flexible and has a community like the placement I had in Berlin.
I’m so grateful for the opportunity to participate in this program. I hope it will guide my next few life changes!