Hallo younger self! And by younger self, I mean nine weeks younger. You are currently finishing packing for Berlin, and even though you’re excited, you’re freaking out because you’ve never left the country before, let alone for nine weeks. I’m so glad I caught you, so I can tell you not to bring that blazer! German business casual is different than American business casual, and your workplace is easygoing with attire. While I have you here, there are a few more things I want to share before you depart for Germany.
You are going into this program with some expectations about German culture, and I want to emphasize that most of them are not true for your experience. The work culture is very friendly and your bosses are not as blunt and critical as you’ve been told they will be. Also, people don’t really get mad at you for not speaking German, because they are so used to it. You’ll feel guilty about being here so long and not speaking German, but you will survive with only English. I also want to prepare you for how much money you will spend. You may think that the cost of living in Berlin is lower than the US, and you would be right, but not when you’re in vacation mode for nine weeks straight. Trying to experience everything that you can and make the most of this experience is honestly expensive, but it ends up being worth it for all the memories make.
Out of these memories, there are some highlights that stick out. Meeting new people leads to some great nights out with a fun group of people. A lot of these nights include amazing cuisine, far above the food you’re used to in Pittsburgh. I also want to assure you: you do take a trip to Budapest and it is amazing! Throughout everything, just maintain the mindset you are going in with. Being open to experiences was so valuable to my time here, and I really got the most out of Berlin because of this.
Even though this city is so fun and full of constant energy, I want to encourage you to set a goal for yourself. Take a rest day, week, or weekend when you feel exhausted. I promise that it will only get worse if you do not recharge, which will impact future experiences in a negative way! While keeping rest in mind, you should also set a goal to see at least three new things per week. Whether they are new restaurants, parks, or historical landmarks, you should do this to make sure you’re constantly seeing and appreciating more of Berlin.
Being in Berlin is the best experience of my life, and I want to reassure you that it is so much better than you are imagining. Don’t be nervous, just be excited for the amazing adventure you are about to embark on!
Tschüss! (You will learn what that means in your first week.)