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Published: April 27th 2008
Yesterday, I actually got kind of warm, enough to take my jacket off...this is a revelation! Summer is on its way and I am thrilled, except that it means that my time over here is almost over. The countdown is now at 2 months for my internship, 2 1/2 months until I am home in Austin, and 3 months until I am in Nashville. Crazy.
Work is going well, and I am enjoying my project. It is also fun getting to know the 'German' way of working. There are some major differences here that I have noticed I thought I might share.
1. Most companies over here are more inclined to the non-cubicle/shared office layouts. This was new for me, as I am used to having my small (very small) privacy in a little grey cubicle. I work now in a large room with big windows...with 2 other people. All of our computers face outwards and well there is no privacy. If you want to take a private phone call or anything, you must step into the hallway. I think this is great for encouraging teamwork and I have become quite used to it over the last few months.
I think the only major problem is conference calls, when one person is on one and it isnt always a quiet evironment.
2. The Kantine. (Cantine). My mother gets to hear me speak endlessly about this lovely concept. Lunch is worked into your contract here, and I rarely see people skipping lunch to work, really brining their lunch, or even working while they eat. At noon, everyone pretty much says 'Mittagessen??' and there you go, we are off to lunch. Germans LOVE their hot meal at lunchtime (they usually eat cold bread and meats for dinner), so for 4 euros, you get 3 choices of hot lunches, every starch you could ever think of to accompany them and a salad bar that never changes. I think I have had enough Pork and Potatoes to last me a lifetime, not to mention, the meals start to repeat themselves after a few weeks....
3. Work is different here too. I think this myth that Europeans dont work hard is well, wrong. I see people staying late all the time, making sure the work gets done. Yes, you get more vacation, and you pretty much always get paid for overtime. I
legally get 2 vacation days a month, as an intern, that I am REQUIRED to take. BUT, the theory here is, if there is work to do, you stay, if not, then you can maybe call it a day early. I like this theory. Not as much wasted work hours on the internet tying to push through to 5 pm when there is nothing to do.
Anyways, just some fun insights. I ride the train 25 min to work every morning and I love watching people, listening to my music and even reading my book. Things I never get to do when driving a car. Im starting to really understand the German system over here and I love that I will be able to work with other cultures better in the future, just being more aware that there are differences that need to be respected on both sides of the fence.
So anyways, enough of that, on to my fun blog and Sam's guest appearance! 😊
So I was lucky enough a few weeks ago to meet up with Samantha in Strasbourg. She was in Paris for work and we figured it would be easy for us
to meet in the middle. Strasbourg is right on the border of France and Germany, its about an hour and a half from where I am and about 2 hrs from Paris (with the speedy TGV)! The city was French, then German, then French, then German, then...yeah you get it. So its a really neat mix of the two cultures, you see architecture from both and the food was definitely influenced as well.
Sam and I met up at about 10.30 am at the main train station. I cant even explain how great it was to see her, I havent seen any familiar faces from home since January and well, thats a long time for me. Sam and I were roomates my Sophmore year of college and we also went on Semester at Sea together, so we have a lot of good times shared in the past. After meeting up, we decided to head out into the city to check it out. I had asked the tourist booth before about what there was to see (it was a spontaneous trip and I didnt really have time to plan right out). We headed in the direction of the beautiful Cathedral
in the middle of the city center. I believe the cathedral was called the Notre Dame (yes just like Paris), it was gorgeous, and we even stepped in for a minute to observe the mass that was going on. I just love the old churces over here, all very different, but with the same idea. Very unique.
After the Cathedral we hopped on the tour on the river that runs through Strasbourg. It was great, everyone got headphones an then you could choose your own language. Sam and I went for Spanish and German at first, but quickly figured out that English was much better haha. You could tell who was listening to different languages because they would simultaneously look left or right depending on their dialogue. Entertaining 😊 The tour took us by lots of old buildings, La Petit France (cute area with german looking buildings), by the university, churches, and then finally by the European Parliment. Yep, its located in Strasbourg, go figure. You learn something new everyday.
After our boat tour, Sam and I were STARVING, so we headed back to the Petit France village to have some lunch. We ate at a fabulous restaurant
and enjoyed a beer together. We talked and talked and talked, i mean, haha, well you all know how much I can talk - imagine 2 of that. It had been so long since we last caught up on life and everything. After lunch we realized we'd seen most of the sights, so we decided to start hopping around town trying all the local beers. At one bar we even saw a Charlie Chaplin look alike, enjoying a beer with his friend, in full makeup, very entertaining. We realized the evening was coming to an end and we would both have to catch our train back so that we could get to work the next morning, so we decided to grab a last dinner before heading to the train station.
We found a nice looking restaurant on a back street, couldn't really read the menu since it was in French, but thought the place looked good, so why not. We realized what idiots we were after our numerous attempts to read random words on the menu and we kept reading "Pommes un de Terre" or something to that effect, we figured out Terre was ground and i kept saying,
Potatoes and Cheese
This is what we really were getting.
i swear pommes is french fries in German...yeah we are idiots. The place served Baked Potatoes with different kinds of melted French cheese on top...there were even potato looking light covers on the wall with big forks sticking out of them....its one of those stupid tourist moments.
Anyways, the dinner turned out fabulous, and Sam and I then hurried across the city to make sure and catch both of our trains back. Overall we had an absolutely fabulous day together, and it was so nice to see her.
I will catch you up soon on my recent happenings, my enchilada party, Fruhlingsfest in Stuttgart, etc. My mom and aunt Vivian arrive on Wed in Paris and I am so excited! I will try to get another blog out before then. Cheers! :-)
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