Heimweh

Well, I didn’t update as much as I had hoped I would, but now that my summer is coming to a close, I have this urge to write about absolutely everything.  So, where to start?  My main purpose for being in Berlin was, of course, to work, and that I certainly did.  Due to some…technical difficulties…the software I was supposed to be using to build and run simulations did not end up materializing in time for me to complete my initial anticipated project.  That being said, I still got to work with thrust reversers.  Quite a lot.  The main focus of my internship ended up being about identifying electric thrust reverser actuation system design challenges and building a qualification guide with respect to documented testing procedures, looking at the components and system environment exhibited by a thrust reverser.  I was really motivated over the past couple of weeks, and I’m ecstatic that I pulled together a technical report and presentation with the time I had left (not to mention that I had gotten a bit overexcited and asked for a bunch of other smaller projects to do concurrently…engines are fun).  Due to obvious privacy concerns, photography within the gate is strictly prohibited unless you have a special license, so at the moment I don’t have any pictures that I took myself, BUT once my supervisor sends them to me, I will post glorious images of the engine assembly facility 🙂

Especially during the school year, it is easy to get wrapped up in classes and homework and sleeping, but being on this flexible work week with the distinct separation between business and pleasure did wonders to how I lived life this summer.  I think I am still recovering from my weekly travel adventures in July.  It was incredibly easy, in the heat of the moment, to book a trip to an entirely different country for a weekend for less than €45 (transportation and lodging), and frankly, you’re not paying much more than that if you play your cards right.  At the beginning of the summer, I was very set on seeing the rest of Germany and checking out Poland.  When you go on vacation from the US, you tend to see the main sites and claim that you are an expert on wherever you went.  Once you have the opportunity to live so close to so many culturally diverse cities without the pressure of making best use of your allotted vacation time, though, it’s a totally different experience.  Here’s a short list of my excursions outside of Berlin:

  • Rostock/Warnemünde (a fishing town and nearby beach on the Baltic)
  • Leipzig
  • Dresden
  • Warsaw
  • Spreewald (think quaint German homes surrounded by a network of canals that you can kayak on)
  • Strausberg (and other hiking areas just outside of the city)

Maybe that doesn’t seem like a lot, but after a while, you get pretty exhausted, especially because my course of action was usually:

  1. Work more during the beginning of the week to leave a bit early on Friday to catch a train/bus
  2. Attempt to sleep or read
  3. Check in and plan the route of sightseeing
  4. Sleep
  5. DO ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING ON SATURDAY
  6. Meet some locals to do something awesome in the evening
  7. Realize on Sunday that I’ve already done all the touristy stuff
  8. Enjoy the city for what it is
  9. Return Sunday night

I have to say, number 6 was my favorite step.  People really like talking about themselves and their culture, so being a traveler interested in all of this was perfect, provided you have the confidence to initiate.  To some extent, this has some drawbacks, but only because introducing yourself can become exhausting and inspire a sense of loneliness because you don’t have that base of experience with someone yet to connect on a more personal level.  This is the reason that I stopped leaving Berlin and started to really “live” in my home city.  Sure, the museums are fantastic and you can get a pretty mean guided tour for absolutely anything, but then there’s the other things–going to a music festival with Marissa, checking out an indie label-opening party in Kreuzberg, doing some urban exploring, or just going out with some incredible international people from work.  Those are the things I am really going to miss.  It took the whole three months for me to really learn how to live in Berlin, and I wish I had three more.  It’s going to be hard to get over the homesickness I know I’m going to feel when I step off the plane in Boston, but I don’t think this is the end of my time in Germany.

Bis dann, Berlin.

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