My international experience in Berlin this summer was more than anything I could’ve dreamt of, and I feel like I experienced something much larger than who I am or what I’ve seen before. I think I am in the midst of the typical, post-departure liminal floating space that so many people who have studied abroad can (hopefully) relate to. This summer I was able to explore the vast Berlin art scene and get a pretty good comprehension of it, as well as what the art world has to offer. While not being the most lucrative field, the opportunities to see amazing art, meet artists working in various mediums, and have your opinion and experience as a press member be valued were all things I got to experience being an intern for Berlin Art Link.
Berlin Art Link/MONA Productions taught me a lot about how to run a digital magazine and production company, and that there is a lot more that goes on behind the scenes to keep a magazine running efficiently while maintaining and growing its audience. I had never worked in an office setting before, and I quickly learned my strengths and weaknesses. Over the two months, I learned how to manage my time better, prioritize tasks, find confidence in asking for clarification, increase accuracy and precision in my work as well as communicate productively and honestly.
Aside from the multitude of skills I gained and opportunities I experienced that will benefit my future, the other side of the study abroad experience is the social and cultural immersion. When I wasn’t working, I was either trying new foods, exploring new museums/art galleries, or spending time with other students in Berlin. The lifestyle in Berlin and Europe, in general, has definitely permeated into my day to day in the United States. I find myself gravitating towards simple meals and breakfasts like cheese and meat, I prefer to walk if that’s an option and find myself subconsciously stopping at all red lights. On a more personal note, I also saw another side of myself that had never come out before, and that was who I am in a professional work environment. While my workplace was more relaxed, it was new for me.
I grew a lot during my time in Berlin, mostly professionally since that was the newest experience for me. While I loved my internship, I did realize that the art field is not a career I see myself pursuing. Having a broad major like communications and media, it’s helpful to rule out a specific path/field. I’ve gained a lot of skills, but what I find to be the most important skill is how I’ve changed the ways in which I work. At the beginning of my internship, I was not the most detail-oriented and wasn’t as thorough with my work as I could’ve been. There is a difference between doing work for school versus for an employer, and being able to identify that difference I believe will also strengthen me as a student for my last year at Pitt.
Reflecting back on my time abroad, I realized that I basically went two months without my typical and close support group, but I didn’t really have a moment to understand or dissect moments of loneliness, change, unbelonging or fatigue because I was constantly moving. Every day felt like a full day of work, events, and trying to see as much of Berlin as I could. I’ve realized now since coming back that I have changed quite a bit. I have different priorities in my life right now and not only do I have a real understanding of my tastes and dislikes, I feel confident in expressing them.
I think these two months abroad will likely reflect a period of time post-grad, less than a year away for me. There will be a time when I’m starting a new job, perhaps living and navigating a new city, and maybe I’ll feel deja vu to my time in Berlin, except in the future I’ll be more adept at managing my time, improving my performance and relationships wherever I may be working. I’ll expect feelings of loneliness and unease and I’ll understand that a night in cooking dinner for myself or a call to a loved one is a simple solution. Additionally, this semester I’ll be embarking on starting my own digital magazine, a student organization I had started before I knew I would be spending my summer with Berlin Art Link, and I know that I will apply all of the things I have learned from my internship to make sure my club is inclusive, innovative and run efficiently.