Studying abroad in Berlin has been one of the best choices I’ve ever made, because I feel like I am experiencing so much and growing as a person. I have been working on a new project at work, which has taught me a lot about starting a business and the logistics behind it. Also, I am learning a lot about myself from how I am adapting to the cultural norms that go with being a Berliner, especially with the social aspect of the city. I have been experiencing new things, trying new foods, and gaining knowledge that will help me in the future. Trying to balance both the fun, social side and the work side has turned out to be my biggest challenge in this program.
I am sure everyone has heard the saying, “work hard, play hard,” which I myself say often. My first couple weeks here I was successfully balancing the two and letting myself have fun experiencing the city while also being a responsible intern, but I realized that I was running on fumes and it caught up to me. Even though I thought that I was successfully working hard and then playing hard to give myself a well-rounded study abroad experience, all I was doing was running myself into the ground. I had to make a choice to manage my time better, so that I could actually enjoy the rest of the program without being exhausted all the time. In the past week, I started course-correcting by turning down later activities and instead finding more lowkey things to do in the city that allowed me to go to sleep at a reasonable time. This way, I could be more productive at work and then feel like I earned the right to have fun in Berlin.
Study abroad has really shown me what my limits are, because Berlin has so much more to offer than Pittsburgh in terms of exploration and activities, so I wasn’t prepared to be constantly doing things. I learned that it is better to set priorities and balance my time instead of going too hard and eventually hitting a crashing point. My advice to other students would be to prepare yourself for having to spread things out over your time, which means maybe turning things down in order to let yourself recharge. It’s so much harder to fully recharge after you fully burn out, so make sure to pace yourself and not let that happen. Don’t beat yourself up for prioritizing your own health, because it is impossible to go at 110% for an entire 8-week program without burning out.