[I’d first like to apologize for the sporadic nature of my blog posts and updates, but I think the “organic” timeline that they show is more accurately reflective of my experience in Berlin.]
As I settle back into life in Evanston, I’m finding reminders of my time in Berlin everywhere—not the least of which is explaining my summer to people as I reconnect with them, and meet others for the first time. THAT part is a little odd: Introducing myself and explaining my summer in Berlin sounds highly pretentious on its own. So I’ve found myself holding back a lot because there are a million things I want to talk about with people who don’t have the same opportunities. Those are conversations I’m having with other students that have studied abroad—the stories, sights, shared experiences, etc.
However, I’m seeing plenty of opportunities to apply my lessons learned in my daily life. I’m far more social than I was before the trip, which is odd. I never expected my daily interactions with people to be affected by my experiences abroad. I think it has to do with adapting to new environments constantly. As a Berliner explained it to me, “Berlin is not easy, it tests you—but it is always rewarding”. Every day I had to interact with new people, ask silly/basic questions, and be more open to different styles of interaction, all skills that helped me build my cultural competence.
Another bizarre lesson learned: People are nice. Not all people, to be sure, but I enjoy conversation more as a result of the trip. The German stereotypes of brusk indifference are not true at all in my experience (not that I believed them to begin with), and the vast majority of them are helpful and want to share their culture with people who are genuinely interested in Germany.
I could not wish for a better experience and can’t wait to recommend a Summer in Berlin to other students considering a study abroad program!
Tschüss, and thanks for all the lessons.