Learning different skills in a different country


This past week was a heavier work week for me because there was a stronger focus on outreach events. On Monday, I went to Technical University for a plastic awareness event. It was a collection of many academics and organization heads from all over Berlin. I couldn’t understand the lectures because it was all in German, but almost everyone spoke great English so I got the opportunity to talk to a lot of people. I spoke to a professor from Brazil and we talked about how much of a privilege it is to be able to drink tap water, and the fact that some people in German refuse to do so is insane. The university’s buildings were gorgeous, but, the inside is kind of a maze. On Tuesday, I went into the office to get some work done. This past week, my work was focused on researching a background paper on PFAS and creating an informative instagram post about plastics in Germany. It has been really interesting to branch outside of water and enter the plastics sphere. I am constantly shocked by how much legislation there is about plastic and waste in Germany and the overall lack in America. It has taught me a lot about what other countries use in order to incentivize and legislate sustainability successfully. For example, Germany utilizes a deposit system to incentivize people to return their bottles to the place of purchase to recycle/reuse the plastic/glass. Then, written into the law are projections for the amount of plastic that needs to be recycled/reused. The law also provides support for organizations to make this transition possible. Other techniques Germany has used are banning certain single-use plastic products, waste hierarchy, and providing reusable packaging for each product. I hope to use this information in my work in America to support a sustainable and reuse culture. Specific to my PFAS paper, it is requiring a lot of research because it is a topic that I am not familiar with and I need to focus it on Germany. But, again, it is still really interesting to see the difference between Germany’s approach to PFAS legislation and America’s. I will continue to work on this and can speak more about this topic in the next blog post!

This weekend, I traveled to Amsterdam for a weekend trip, and it was a really great experience. We went to various shops and tried all sorts of food. I really enjoyed the cafes in the Jordaan district. There was a cafe that sold these famous Dutch apple pies, and they were amazing. We also biked around the city and inside Vondelpark. This was the highlight of the trip for me. We got to bike around the canals and see some gorgeous sights. I would definitely recommend doing this when visiting Amsterdam. Although I will say traveling on the weekend and getting ready for work the very next day was rather difficult, I think it was so worth it.

During my internship at atip:tap, I believe that communication is the biggest soft skill that I have developed. There is the obvious reason of the language barrier. Although the barrier is not that significant because many people at work speak English, it is still very important that I am clear in everything that I am talking about. Learning to communicate what I am thinking professionally while still being concise and clear has been a learning curve for me. For example, events are the only time that I have to talk to the founder of the company and I will have ideas about my tasks and for the company that I tell him about. He is super accepting of my ideas and is always enthusiastic about my ideas. But I have learned that after talking about my ideas with him, it is very important that I send a follow-up email to him about what I was thinking to make sure he is fully informed with all the facts. Not only is it easier for me to write everything to document it, but he has said that it is helpful for him to keep track of everything. This is a habit that I will be taking back with me to the US and using in my work in the future. A hard skill that I have developed is how to edit a company’s website. I have never dealt with that kind of software. There was a learning curve to it, but after a while, I got the hang of it, and I am sure this will be extremely useful in the future.

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