This week, we are introducing one of our interns in the press department at the German Embassy. Our Q&A with Max sheds light on his experience as a German in the US – and the Embassy!
Name: Maximilian C. Epping
Where you’re from: I’m originally from Muenster in North Rhine Westphalia, but I have been living in Hamburg for about eight years now and just love the maritime environment in that area.
Where and what you’re studying: I graduated from Law School in 2017 and am doing my legal clerkship right now, which we call “Referendariat”. It is kind of a traineeship with different three-to-nine month long internships. I have been interning with the court of appeals for criminal matters and the district court for commercial matters in Hamburg. My third stage is now with the German embassy here in Washington, D.C.
What is one project or activity you enjoyed at the Embassy? (Please name a specific task, not “everything”)
I really enjoyed helping with the organization of a specific event directly in front of the Lincoln Memorial. We installed a stage and invited the German break-dance group “The Flying Steps”, who performed their choreography accompanied by Bach music. The event was open to the public and the people seemed to really enjoy it. It symbolized the German American friendship, which we are promoting right now with the motto “Wunderbar together – Germany and the U.S.”. I came to the U.S. for the first time in 2008 for a semester abroad during high school in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. When I told my former host mother that I was working for the Germany Embassy in D.C., she found a photo of my colleagues and me at the event on the Internet and posted it on Facebook with love and hugs from Tennessee. I was very touched when I saw that and will be visiting my host family over Thanksgiving this year.
What do you think is one of Germany’s main foreign policy challenges?
I think the stabilization and further integration of the European Union is the most important foreign policy challenge.
What are some cultural impressions you gained of the United States?
The US consists of many different states with each one having its own attractions. Despite having been to around 25 US states by now, I still want to explore more of this country. I love the great diversity of people, landscapes and cultures in the US.
How has your experience in Washington differed from your time as an exchange student in Tennessee and as a law student in New York?
I lived in Tennessee as an exchange student in high school in 2008 and in New York for a semester in law school in 2013, so I kind of knew about the US lifestyle before arriving in Washington. However, life in D.C. differs quite a lot since it is such an international community here. I like how it has an urban feel while still having enough space for everyone. My time in D.C. has been similar to my experiences in law school in New York, and quite different from the rural areas of Tennessee. Don’t get me wrong though–I also had a great time in Tennessee with my really awesome host family and I am grateful for those many different experiences since they help me to better understand the US altogether.
What do you miss about Germany?
To begin with, there is a lot that I will miss when being back in Germany like the awesome “can do attitude” in the US. However, right now I miss the “Schanze” in Hamburg a lot, where you can just stroll around the artsy and hip district with a cold beer in your hand.
What has been your biggest lesson learned during your internship?
Since I have worked mostly in the private sector before, the clerkship at the Germany Embassy was my first contact with the administrative sector. Therefore, my biggest lesson would probably be how things work differently when you work for the government, meaning that you have to consider a lot of hierarchy and that things have to be done “as they have always been done”. I met a lot of interesting people here and learned to understand a point of view that you cannot really grasp without having experienced it firsthand.
What has been your biggest challenge living here?
Since I am working in the press department, I have to get up real early in the mornings to craft a daily press report. That has been quite a challenge for me; however, tons of coffee do have an impact on your weariness.
Where do you plan to go or what do you plan to do after your internship?
When I leave mid of December, I am going to visit a friend of mine in South America and travel to Patagonia with him together. After that, we want to spend New Year’s Eve in Punta del Este in Uruguay. In January and February, I am going to visit South Africa, Namibia and Tanzania together with my Dad. Despite all of the vacation, I also have to finish up with my clerkship in 2019 and 2020 to get my admission to the bar as an attorney in Germany. Also, I want to bring my PhD thesis to an end, on which I am working now since 2017.