Berlin is very different than what most people told me to expect in Germany. I was told that Germans are harsh with their feedback and to expect no praise for the things that I do well. I was also told that Germans do not talk about their outside lives in the workplace. I’m unsure if it would be different in other parts of Germany, but none of this has been true. Berlin is a very international city, and most of the people that I have met grew up somewhere other than Berlin. Because of this, there is a mix of cultures that I notice, especially in the workplace.
The one miscommunication I had was about asking questions. At first, I was nervous about asking too many questions as I did not want to bother my boss too much. I learned over time that it is usually better to ask questions in order to avoid more timely mistakes from being made. As far as verbal communication, I have not had any issues. Everyone that I work with speaks English, and people have made it a point always to use English when I am around so that I do not feel left out. I find this to be very considerate, and it made adjusting to the workplace much easier for me. I have not run into many challenges so far, but I know from traveling it can be rather hard to communicate with those who do not speak the same language. This is something that I noticed when I visited Prague this weekend.
After a five-hour train ride early in the morning, I finally arrived in Prague. I was meeting up with other Pitt students participating in the International Internship Program, but they had arrived a day before me. That means when I first got there, I was all alone. I could not check into the hostel until three in the afternoon, and I was rather hungry, so I decided to find a local restaurant to grab a sandwich from. After a quick Google search on my phone, I found a local sandwich shop that also had free water. I sat down inside and ate a delicious sandwich that was very popular in Prague. When I got there, I tried to explain what I wanted to eat, but none of the workers spoke English. Instead, I just had to point at exactly what I wanted. This is not a problem I am used to dealing with in Berlin because almost everyone that you encounter speaks a little bit of English.
After that, I headed out to find the other Pitt students, and we explored Old Town Prague. It was a very beautiful place, and the buildings looked much more like what I was picturing Europe to look like than Berlin. Prague has a famous dessert called a Chimney Cake. Chimney Cakes are basically cinnamon doughnuts with soft-served ice cream packed inside. I knew that I had to get one while I was there. After I scarfed down the Chimney Cake, we decided to keep exploring the area. We saw the famous Prague Castle and walked across the bridge. After that, we went out to dinner, and I got a very yummy piece of Salmon. I decided to then turn in for the night as I was exhausted from a long day of travel.
On Saturday, we headed to one of the flea markets that is a big deal in Prague. Unfortunately, we were a bit too late and missed out on most of the stands, but it was nice to see the things that were left. After that, we went to the outskirts of Prague to a little Vietnamese marketplace. We had some large bowls of Pho, and I tried deep-fried bread for the first time. It was very different from the rest of Prague, so I was happy we traveled to see it while visiting.
On Sunday, we had a more calm day and just walked around Prague a bit until it was time for our train to come. By the time we were at the station, I was ready to go back to Berlin. Unfortunately, our train was delayed, but it was not for long, and after another five-hour ride, we were back in Berlin. It was a very interesting time in Prague, and I am happy I got to see yet another city in Europe. Next weekend will be our final entire weekend in Berlin, and while the thought saddens me a bit, I am ready to go. I have a feeling these next two weeks are really going to fly by.