On my flight back and landing in the US, I spent time reflecting on my past summer. One thing that I kept reflecting and thinking back to was on the last day of my internship. My co-workers and members knew it was my last day at the space, so I was continuously asked a series of similar questions: “Was it worth spending your summer with us?”, “What did you get out of being in Berlin?”, “what was your favorite part about Berlin?”, “Are you excited to go back to the US?” The questions went on and on, always ending with a sincere “If you ever find yourself back in Berlin, do not be afraid to reach out! Please visit”.
When asked these questions, I didn’t really have time to think in depth about them. When I was at my small last day celebration, I was overwhelmed, so I provided pretty much surface-level answers. However, being back home away from abroad, I have had time to think about them more because now, in the US, I have also been asked similar questions.
I start by saying My international experience was well worth my summer. It may be scary to spend two months in a new, unfamiliar place in a different culture, with different people, and working without getting paid (however, the credits are highly beneficial). However, I have concluded that being immersed in this situation has inevitably helped me grow professionally, personally, and academically. Unlike being a regular tourist, you are literally living as a part of their society and everyday life. This opens doors for you to experience many things, from different neighborhoods to nature to food to even more. If you liked one place, you had the opportunity to go back. It was initially overwhelming because there was so much to do in Berlin and lots that I didn’t even get the chance to do that I wanted. Especially working all day and still wanting to explore and do evening activities but tired. I learned to find a balance between reminding myself I am here abroad in Germany for my internship but also having a full global experience which includes learning and experiencing the culture. At the moment, the days didn’t feel like they were going too fast. I did experience so many different things, but after looking back, and two weeks have already passed, I realize time has gone fast. It always seems to. Experiencing the culture of Berlin, the people, and my internship is an experience I wouldn’t trade; I am so glad I did it.
Personally, the past two months in Germany have been the longest I have been away from home or a familiar place, so I gained a sense of independence. At first, I thought the transportation would be hard to figure out, and after one time taking the bus the completely wrong way at 1% on my phone, it wasn’t bad after a few times. I figured out how to navigate things on my own. I also felt nervous to talk to people because they wouldn’t speak English, along with the stereotypes of Germans. However, I learned not to judge and go in with an open mind. Also, personally, I learned how to react to certain uncomfortable situations.
Professionally, of course, I made mistakes- everyone does. At times I miscommunicated in terms of not overly communicating; however, once that was recognized, I had to grow from it. I also gained more proactiveness and eagerness in the workplace and learned that high effort goes a long way. I also learned that although I was the youngest there, my tasks and position mattered, and I needed to give people a little push if I was doing a project or working with them.
Academically I learned about different valuable tools for social media content creation. I used Canva, which was helpful for social media posts, and learned about tools called Asana and other password saving sites. I also did various tasks that gave a taste of many different examples of what looking in communications and marketing would look like. I also have great talking points and examples for future internships or jobs.
My takeaways from this program are to be open to adapting and plan or be knowledgeable of where you are or going. Amongst other takeaways, I plan to bring to Pitt and my future career is confidence, independence, timely communication, and open mindedness regarding a new culture and people. I am excited to be back at Pitt for my senior year and bring my experiences, big or small, with me!