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Intern Q&A: Tijen Ataoğlu

This week, we are introducing one of our interns in the economics department at the German Embassy. Our Q&A with Tijen sheds light on her experience as a German in the US – and the Embassy!

Name: Tijen Ataoğlu

Where you’re from: I am from Cologne which is located in North Rhine-Westphalia.

What is one project or activity you enjoyed at the Embassy?

Since I worked for the economics department, I participated in many interesting projects and activities. Attending an event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies with the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker was my personal highlight. He came to Washington in order to negotiate trade tariffs with President Trump. Following their meeting he held a speech about the importance of the partnership between the European Union and the United States.

What do you think is one of Germany’s main foreign policy challenges and what should Germany do about it?

As an important member of the EU, Germany should represent and enforce European values in transatlantic issues. On the one hand, the relationship between the EU and the US should be strengthened. On the other hand, it is important to represent a counterpoint to the USA.

What are some cultural impressions you gained of the United States?

The diversity of cultures impressed me a lot. America is a nation of immigration and this is represented by its multicultural inhabitants. In my opinion, such diversity is a great asset to a society.

What has been your biggest surprise with regard to living in Washington?

As it was my first time in Washington and even in the US, I was very surprised how international Washington is. I did not really feel like I am living in the US. In D.C. there are people from all over the world with totally different backgrounds. The last language you hear in a restaurant or bar is English.

What do you miss about Germany?

Even if it sounds a bit pathetic: my family and friends. I think that one of the biggest challenges while working for the Federal Foreign Office is to live without your family.

What has been your biggest lesson learned during your internship?

The biggest lesson I learned during the last 3 months was to understand what diplomacy really means. It’s not just about participating in dinners and cocktails. Diplomacy means representing the foreign policy interests of your state in another country. This needs a lot of sensitivity and patience. It is important to strive for a constant dialogue at eye level.

What has been your biggest challenge living here?

My biggest challenge was definitely the weather. I have lived in D.C. for the whole summer from July until September. The climate is so humid. Sometimes I thought that I was living in the tropics.

Where and what are you studying?

I studied law in Cologne and Istanbul. After that, I completed a joint degree LL.M. in German and Turkish Economy Law at the University of Cologne and Istanbul Bilgi University (LL.M. Köln/Istanbul Bilgi). Since October 2016 I am clerking at the Higher Regional Court of Cologne. Last but not least, I am doing my PhD at Dresden University of Technology.

Where do you plan to go or what do you plan to do after your internship?

I am going back to Cologne to hopefully finish my clerkship with an oral exam. Afterwards I will continue my doctoral studies.

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