Home Stretch

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Oh my, it’s the last week. I can’t believe I’m already saying that. One more week in Berlin and I’m out of Europe for a while. Well, kind of. This weekend I’m taking a short trip to Strasbourg, France which I’m seriously looking forward to, and then I’m returning to Berlin to meet up with my mom and sister. So technically I have over two more weeks, but the program that brought me here is coming to an abrupt close. I’m so glad I got a chance to come here. I knew I was set up to have an amazing summer but everything about the program surpassed all of my high expectations. I’m grateful for the people I met, the new things I experienced, and everything I learned from my first ever internship. I absolutely love the city of Berlin but at the same time I do miss home and I am ready to go back.

This past week was one of the more eventful weeks. I think a lot of us went into it knowing this was one of our last weeks, so we tried to make the most of it. The second half of the week is when things really started to pick up. On Thursday, some of us finally made it out to a cultural institution I’ve been wanting to go to since my first day in Berlin. It was a fun time, and I can definitely say I saw some things I don’t see back home. We got home pretty late which made work a bit difficult on Friday, but I’d say it was well worth it because when in Berlin. On Saturday we tried another cultural institution. This one was much more well known, as it was a major player in the early days of the Berlin techno scene. Although it has relocated since those days, I still went in with the mindset that it was the birthplace of Berlin techno. Since it’s quite touristy, and we went during primetime on Saturday night there was a massive line. We still hadn’t reached the halfway point after waiting in the cold for an hour. We then realized there was a separate line for those who had purchased tickets in advance. We got in that line and got in in about ten minutes. I felt like a celebrity because we totally jumped two more hours’ worth of line. This was maybe my favorite institution of the trip, and it was absolutely worth the steep cover fee and the unnecessarily long wait in the cold.

On Sunday, my roommate and I made it out to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. Sachsenhausen is a historically significant camp because of its proximity to the capital, and we knew coming to Berlin that this was something we wanted to visit so we could pay our respects. Walking around the grounds and seeing everything with my own eyes was an indescribable experience. It was a lot to process at once. The town around it had an eerie feeling of normalness, and it made me wonder about the backgrounds of the people living in the surrounding area of the former camp. Being there gave me a new perspective on the horrific past events that took place in the region.

On a different note, later Sunday night, I made it out to a Coldplay concert at Olympiastadion Berlin. Being there in a massive stadium crowd singing our hearts out wearing light-up wristbands and watching fireworks light up the sky was amazing. Even if you’re not a Coldplay fan I would still recommend going to one of their concerts.

Regarding success in Germany, I feel like it’s a little bit different from in the US, at least from what I’ve seen working with Gramercy. It seems like in general people here people tend to have a better work-life balance. Everyone gets two vacation days a month, and there are much stricter laws regarding working hours. Success is being efficient during the workday and getting things done so you can go home on time. From what I’ve heard this seems to be common throughout Europe. This is different than back in the US where success, especially for employees in entry-level positions, is doing everything you can to get a raise, even if it means working overtime. I’m not sure how to feel about the German definition of success. On one hand I like the idea of working efficiently and never having to work more than 8 hours a day, but a part of me loves the late nights and the fight to get ahead. At the end of the day, although the work culture is slightly different, success is success and everyone works towards climbing the ladder within a company.