Reflection from Across the Atlantic

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I have officially left Germany, and it is such a sad feeling. Even during my post-program vacation traveling between other European cities, I started missing the specific Berlin routine that I had developed for myself. Now that I made it home from Europe, the realization that my time in Berlin is over has completely gotten through my head. The commute to work, being in the office, then seeing everyone on weekends are just a few parts of my weekly routine that I miss. My time in Berlin was amazing, and I know that I will never experience anything like it again.

Showing my Cousin around Berlin

If I had to sum up my experience in one word, it would be unforgettable. I really grew to love Berlin during my time here, even if I didn’t realize how much it started to feel like home. The culture and my internship taught me valuable knowledge and lessons that will stick with me throughout my life. My adaptability skills improved tremendously, as I was put in many cultural scenarios where I was unsure of what to do and had to improvise. This occurred often at the beginning of the summer, but I improved a lot and minimized possible issues by learning a bit of German and adapting to cultural norms. A goal that I set for myself this summer was to be more open to new opportunities and experiences, which I think that I achieved in Berlin. I tried new things that are common in German culture, such as the cuisine, not jaywalking even when it is clear, and being more straightforward without using buffer words and “sorry” excessively. My internship also gave me a lot of useful information and skills regarding the process behind businesses. There is so much preparation work behind fully launching a startup: funding applications, market research, pitch decks, business plans, and much more that I learned how to complete. These skills will aid me in future career positions, because being in such a small company gave me the opportunity to learn more about the business process than in a larger company. I will enter future interviews and positions with a deeper background on the entrepreneurial process than most students, because interning at a startup is rare for incoming juniors. I am really grateful that I was able to gain knowledge in a smaller setting with more learning opportunities.

As a global management major, understanding global differences and learning how to work with them is key. Before going abroad, I did not have a capacity to fully put myself in the perspective of someone truly working internationally or with people from other cultures. Working in Berlin for eight weeks was the best possible way to make me a better student in my global-focused classes over the next two years. I think that I will be able to absorb information better because I will have a global knowledge basis to utilize, and can relate conceptual scenarios to real experiences that I encountered.

Leaving Berlin led me to reflect and identify two main takeaways from this program. The first of which is that I made the right choice with my Global Management major. I love the international aspect of business and enjoy traveling to other countries. I am confident in my ability to serve as an example of why students should participate in study abroad. Being thrown into a new environment can teach you things about yourself, personal and academic, that you would have otherwise not learned. Takeaway number two is that the real world is not as scary as we may think it is during undergraduate school. I used to be a little afraid of life after college, because it seems like it is approaching very quickly and I did not feel prepared. After being alone in a new city and developing a routine to balance school, work, and a social life, I am no longer afraid of the “unknown” after graduation. This will help me be a better student at Pitt and also a better young professional in my first post-grad position. If fear and stress are not at the forefront of my mind, I will make better career choices and thus produce higher-quality work in a position that suits me.

I am very grateful for everything I learned in Berlin, and appreciate that I had the opportunity to participate in this program. There is no doubt in my mind that my time in Berlin forever changed my perspective and provided me with invaluable information and knowledge for my future academic and professional careers. Thank you to anyone who followed along with my blogs!

Auf Wiedersehen,

Caitlin Jarrell

Friendly Reminder at the East Side Gallery