Back Home from Berlin

I am now back home from Berlin! I can’t believe my international internship experience has come to an end. This experience felt short and long at the same time, but now that I am back home, I miss Berlin a lot. It feels like my life has changed in the matter of a plane ride. My life in Berlin abruptly ended, and now I have to get used to my life in America again.

I have seen tremendous growth in myself personally, professionally, and academically through this experience. It has pushed me to grow in ways I didn’t expect. 

Personally, I have become much more confident and independent. Less than two years ago I was worried about moving one state over from New Jersey to go to college in Pennsylvania. Now I have lived alone in Germany for 9 weeks, a place where I don’t know the language, was not familiar with the culture, and did not know how to use the public transportation. I was able to learn about and become acclimated to Germany, make new friends, and succeed in my internship. My ability to do all of this showed me how capable I am and has helped me believe in myself. 

I have also learned that being “professional” is, at the end of the day, just being yourself. Despite how many “professional development” events I have attended at school, they cannot compare to the actual experience of working in a professional environment. I realized that being professional is not just about wearing business clothes or being robotic and talking only about professional topics or work. Your coworkers want to get to know you and hear about yourself. I have learned that in a lot of professional settings, it is actually encouraged to share parts of your personal life.

Academically, I have learned a lot about the practical application of finance and accounting. I reviewed balance sheets, profit and loss statements, and asset registers. I created presentations, did reconciliatioins, and used SAP and Excel. I was able to put into practice what I have been learning at Pitt, and I realized how much I can see a future for myself in the world of accounting and finance. 

Now that the program is over, I have reflected on what I have learned. These are my top 6 takeaways from this program:

  1. Stereotypes are not completely true. Sure, Germans are sometimes timely and strict, but they are also considerate. My coworkers certainly were not timely (some of them came to work 2-3 hours late), but they supported me and answered any questions I had. Also, many streets in Berlin are covered in art. One thing I think Berliners have gotten right is the importance of art. The prevalence of art in the most public places was beautiful as well as surprising to me, seeminlg breaking the stereotype that Germans are just strict rule-followers. 
  2. Learning the language of the country you are in opens many more doors and connects you more personally to the people who live there. Although I was able to get around well with just English, I failed to make connections with native Germans because I could not communicate with them. 
  3. Traveling can get tiring. No matter how beautiful a place was, toward the end of my trip, I craved a sense of familiarity and home. 
  4. Making connections that you will only have for this moment in time is heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. I made friends with my coworkers at work, waiters at restaurants, and others on my daily commute. It was amazing to connect with all of them, especially with people who are different from me. However, I will probably never see them again, which is a bittersweet feeling. 
  5. I am excited to go back to Pitt. Despite how incredible this experience has been, it has also made me more grateful for my life back home. After going abroad, I have so much more gratitude for my education, my family, my friends, my home, and my country. 
  6. Currywurst with mayonnaise is the best food. No further explanation needed.

I plan on bringing these takeaways to Pitt and my future career in different ways. I hope to learn more languages so I can connect more to the places I visit. I will continue to strengthen my knowledge of different cultures and make connections with people who are different from me. I will also remember that stereotypes are just stereotypes, and there are kind people everywhere. And I hope to keep trying new foods. 

Until next time, Berlin!

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