It’s been a little over two weeks since I left Berlin, and I still can’t believe how fast the summer went by. It feels like landing in Berlin was just a few weeks ago, and its crazy that I’m already home again. Overall, it was an amazing experience and it gave me the opportunity to learn and see so much. Outside of my internship, I had the chance to explore many cities aside from Berlin and do so many cool things that I hadn’t done before. I really wanted to take advantage of being so close to so many other cities, because I’ll probably never have the chance to spend 2 months in Europe again. I visited Hamburg, Munich, Potsdam, Prague and Paris, and they were all amazing.
I think the biggest thing this experience taught me was confidence. I was really nervous going into it, because I had never been away from home that l long, and I didn’t know what to expect from living in a different country. I didn’t know what exactly I would be doing in my internship, and I was really worried about the language barrier in Berlin. Living in a different country for that long and managing to adapt to anything that was unexpected on the program improved my confidence. I feel more prepared to try new things and not be afraid to do things that are outside of my comfort zone. Everything that I was nervous about before the program ending up being fine. Berlin was a lot more similar to the U.S. than I expected, so it was pretty easy to get used to living there. There were very few situations where I had an issue not speaking German. Even in the other countries/cities I went to, pretty much everyone spoke English and I didn’t have any communication issues. The biggest professional and personal growth for me came from being emerged in a new environment with new people and a different culture. This experience was my first time being in Europe, and I learned a lot from seeing the different cultures and customs of other countries.
I was surprised at how different Berlin was from what I was expecting. Before the program, our orientations taught us that Berlin would be very formal, especially in the workplace. This was really not the case for most of my experience. Berlin was extremely alternative and artsy, and it did not feel formal at all like I was told. One of the things I was told before was that at work, people in Germany just do they work and they don’t small talk or talk about their personal lives. At my internship, it was not like that at all. The company really felt like a community and everyone was really interested in getting to know me personally. I learned that I really like the atmosphere of a smaller office, because it felt like it was a family and my coworkers make a real effort to do things as an office and spend time together. This was really comforting as an intern, because it made the experience as an intern much less intimidating and I felt like everyone really cared about each other. I made a lot of connections with people I worked with, and I’m really glad to have them as contacts for the future. Even when I was leaving, they showed that they really cared about me and it’s nice to know that if I ever need professional help or advice, I have several people to turn to.
After the international internship program, I went to Italy with my family for the week, so in total I was away from home for 10 weeks. It’s been an adjustment being home because I was so busy for 10 weeks, and now that I’m home I have much fewer responsibilities. While the past two and a half months were exhausting, I wouldn’t have changed anything. I t was so amazing to be immersed in a new environment and have the opportunity to see so many places. I think the international internship program was a great choice for me because I have always wanted to do a study abroad program or travel to Europe, but it was also really important to me graduate on time and complete an internship, so I wouldn’t have had time in college to do both. With the internship program, I gained the professional experience I needed while also having time to explore Europe and learn from the experience of living in a foreign place.