This week, we are introducing one of our interns at the German Embassy. Our Q&A with Sandra sheds light on her experience as a German in the US – and the Embassy!
Name: Sandra Metzger
Where you’re from: I’m from Rosenheim, Bavaria. People usually do recognize the name of the city as it lies between Munich and Salzburg, is close to the Alps and has its own crime series on German TV, “Rosenheim Cops”.
Where and what you´re studying: I’m doing my master’s in Governance and Public Policy at the University of Passau.
What is one project or activity you enjoyed at the Embassy?
Working in the political department I was able to attend panel discussions at think tanks on a weekly basis. The amount of knowledge one experiences there is unbelievable. Above all I got deeper into the topics North Korea and nuclear weapons, but also for example the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, cybersecurity and US-Mexican relations. You meet real experts, senators, congressmen and congresswomen. Attend congressional hearings was also a highlight of my time at the Embassy. Sitting inside the Rayburn House Office Building and hearing testimonials on post-Mugabe Zimbabwe is not something you experience very often.
What do you think is one of Germany’s main foreign policy challenges and what should Germany do about it?
Germany’s position in the EU is of crucial importance. Our country now faces challenges that it has to bear together with its allies. The rise of populist parties – not only in Germany itself but also in the rest of Europe – poses a problem. We benefit so much out of the EU and that is something we should clearly voice out loud and stand up for.
What are some impressions you gained of the United States?
I have been to the United States before, but again I realized how huge this country is. Trying to see “the most interesting parts” of the US within a 2 month internship is simply not possible. There are too many throughout this country. What I really enjoyed was that – not only in Washington DC but also in Philadelphia or New York City – history is so alive. There are museums, memorials and references everywhere and it is so easy to just go out and explore and broaden your own horizon.
What has been your biggest surprise with regard to living in Washington?
With regard to my internship and Washington DC being a political capital I imagined daily life would be about politics. But still I was surprised by how open and how often people talk politics. It doesn’t matter if you speak to your colleagues, people you meet at Think Tank events, Uber drivers or people you meet at a bar – everyone seems to have an opinion about current politics and the city kind of vibes together in this. I was also surprised by how well Democrats and Republicans seem to work together.
What do you miss about Germany?
My family, friends and Schwarzbrot.
What has been your biggest lesson learnt during your internship?
It’s all about networking! It started inside the German Embassy: I was very grateful that people took the time to talk to me and to give me insights into a diplomat’s life. Being “in the field” at events in DC, you just realize that the whole city lives of the contacts made there and you should always have your business card ready for handing it out.
What is coming off these contacts made is amazing: next to new information you learn about career opportunities or you simply make new friends. One thing I definitely loved about DC was the creation of a very friendly, sometimes funny but also very professional network in only a few months!
Where do you plan to go or what do you plan to do after your internship?
First I will spend a week in New York City. After that I go back to my university to do my master’s thesis and finish my studies. And then who knows what’s waiting for me out there.