This past week was filled with spontaneous activities leading to exploring new places. I finished one of my big projects at my internship and started another big project this week where I have to make a video of group members that received funding from the German Senate. In the video, they are saying thank you and helping to convince the Senate and other partnerships to further their funding. However, I found through certain projects and other spontaneous activities that it is not easy to assimilate to not knowing the main host countries’ language.
Although many people speak English, which is usually their second language, some don’t know it quite well. I feel bad at points for barely knowing any Deutsche, and trying to communicate can be challenging at times. It’s really great that people speak English here, and I wish I knew other languages. I noticed it is mostly younger people that know both English and Duestche and many other languages, so that’s helpful as primarily young people work at the company im interning with.
For my video project, it must be in German. Part of the video is going to be interviews with the members where they have to speak German, but since it’s not my native language, it is going to be more of a challenge. I have to rely on those who can speak German and English to help me translate when editing and coming up with ideas for this promotion video project.
Even when I go grocery shopping or to a restaurant, sometimes there are no English menus or descriptions in English, so it can be difficult. I also can’t tell when people are talking to me sometimes because it’s in German and not English.
In addition, this weekend, I took a spontaneous trip to Munich that included two overnight trains (I literally booked my ticket like 24 hours before). Along with two other Pitt students, we left at 4 am on Saturday, arrived in Munich at 10 am, then left Munich at 11 pm, and got back to Berlin at 6:30. In Munich, I noticed fewer people speak English than in Berlin.
We went to the OG Hobfrahaus and an older man who seemed to be a regular sat at our large table with us and didn’t know any English. He knew all the workers and everything. It would have been cool to converse with him, but it was tough.
We explored a lot of Munich, including some touristy spots like climbing up a cathedral tower to see the view of the city, going to the Olympic Park and another huge park called the Englischer Garten, which is famous and popular.
Another difficult part is that people are strict about following the rules here that I may disregard more in the US, like Jay Walking. Sometimes there are no cars for a long time, and I am so tempted just to cross the street, but I must follow all those rules with less flexibility.
I am so glad that I took the trip to Munich. It was quite an experience! The city was so vibrant, and it was what I thought typical Germany would look like with the gorgeous architecture, streets, and history. Overall it was cool to see the south at what the Bavaria region looks like. We tried some traditional Bavarian food which included potato dumplings as well.
I noticed that in Berlin, everyone smokes cigarettes quite a lot, which I am not used to in the US. In fact, just from walking on the street, I will come back, and my hair smells like them and my clothes so easily as they are very potent. I am not used to that, and even though Americans do smoke, it seems more prevalent here.
I got to know my co-workers more when we went to watch a co-worker who used to be a part of the team DJ. I sat with them, we danced and had good conversations. It was cool to see a local spot they always go to. I noticed they do know more about what’s going on in America. They asked me about the 2024 election, and I didn’t know enough about the current issues in Germany, which I felt bad about. Still, now I am trying to assimilate more by reading about Germany’s political climate.
Lastly, I have had difficulty assimilating to not having access to water all the time. In the US, I drink so much water. I am so used to always having access to free water. When here, I must pay for it more, which took some getting used to, along with paying or tipping when using bathrooms. I am most definitely more dehydrated here.
Besides some difficulties adapting, I am more used to German culture and everything with it. It is cool seeing all the history. I even took a self-care trip by myself to Berlins Museum Island and got dinner, which was nice. Another successful week has passed!