Filling in the Blanks in Berlin

This week was extremely eventful and was packed with new experiences. A highlight of the week was a trip to an “Ice Bar” which is a concept I previously never heard of. I went with a few other friends to this place where they took you into a bar setting that is completely made out of ice. It was absolutely freezing. The glasses were made of ice and we were made to wear big jackets, which was bizarre given the fact that it was about 80 degrees out. It is always cool to have smaller excursions like this during the week because it makes the work week feel light and reasonable, since there is a lot to explore in the city. In addition to this great experience, my family visited this weekend before they headed to visit my extended family in Ireland. It was so nice to see them, and felt great to be a tour guide. They were grateful that they could cut out the extra time that would inevitably be there if they simply came to Berlin without any knowledge of how to get around. I took them to both the cool, non-touristy areas and of course the tourist spots in order to give them a full experience. They enjoyed the historical sites and everything that Berlin had to offer. It was nice having the experience and wherewithal to show them a good time. A highlight to me was our trip to Tempelhof Field which is essentially the central park of Berlin. The history is rich there and the day was perfect for a walk around the circular park . Their visit came at a perfect time when I was missing home and they acted as a good reminder of what seems like a completely different life in a weird way.

In terms of low and high context cultures, I have noticed a lot of comparison between the U.S. and Germany. The U.S. is considered more of a low context culture with more indirect explanation of things with a lot of fluff and extra added details, which I completely understand from my time working there. On the other hand, Germany is more high context with very direct language and minimal extra descriptions that many here feel are unnecessary. This for me led to a more challenging environment than I am used to, because I like when things are laid out crystal clear, which will not be found here. My supervisor embodies this idea of direct and minimal. He only gives the needed details, and besides that allows me to take matters into my own hands. Unfortunately, this can lead to some issues since I tend to overthink if there is an outlined description. For example, I went to an arts and crafts store to get different materials for an energy conference that my supervisor and I put together. He gave me a list of things to get, with one item being “recycle paper” which was somewhat confusing to me but I figured he wanted either scrap paper or paper that came from recycled material. I went with scrap paper that was just a mix of a bunch of different paper of different shapes and sizes, but he was not that thrilled because it turns out he wanted white printer paper. I understand that I could have asked for more details but given his description I thought I was somewhat within the realm of being correct on what to get. Even though this has to do with a more high context culture with minimal details, it also shows a language barrier where some things are described differently here compared to the U.S.. He was totally okay with the mess up and understood that he did not give enough details about what to get. 

In addition to this, there are often times where I am wondering if I am doing the right thing based on the directions I was given. I just sent my supervisor a write up based on his instructions and still have my doubts about the details included and how I laid it out. An upside to this is he understands that I am not going to do exactly what he is looking for; He simply does not expect that. Since there is higher context needed to be filled in, there also seems like more creativity able to be infused into my work because I can make it my own. In a way I enjoy this in comparison to the U.S. which is very detailed with many different pointers constantly added in.

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