Name: Adele Juliane Kirschner
Where you’re from: Stuttgart, Germany
Where and what you’re studying: I studied law in Heidelberg and Geneva (CH). I am currently clerking at the Higher Regional Court in Frankfurt (The clerkship is a requirement for German law school graduates to take the bar exam).
What is one project or activity you enjoyed at the Embassy?
Working in the legal and consular department I was sometimes tasked with following current developments in US (legal) politics and law, such as reporting on new laws or Supreme Court decisions etc. In connection with this I went to see a hearing at the US Supreme Court. It was not only fascinating to see these venerable and eminent judges at work, what captivated me the most was the how the lawyers were constantly interrupted and questioned, requiring them to instantly respond, often not being able to complete their argument. You could see some very brilliant minds at work and a very fascinating “battle” indeed! There is not so much action in court proceedings at home.
What do you think is one of Germany’s main foreign policy challenges and what should Germany do about it?
I think Germany has to balance between being aware that it needs to raise its voice with regard to current developments in the EU as well as with regard to its (EU) future direction, while on the other hand trying not to act in a way that is perceived as too dominant by other countries. I thinks it’s important to side with allies and like-minded countries in this case and try to push for a common agenda in appreciation of the values on which the EU is based – such as e.g. with France.
What are some impressions you gained of the United States?
Generally speaking I would say it’s much easier to start a conversation with a stranger in the US than at home. People are very open and often curious to learn about where you are form when they hear a foreign language.
Diversity it another thing that strikes me and I mean this in every sense, starting from the diverse cultural backgrounds of its people, over the diverse landscapes to the diversity, of rather variety, of choices you are offered in your everyday life – starting at the supermarket which e.g. offers over 200 different kinds of beers (note I am saying this as a German!) and types of cheddar cheeses (albeit the choice of cheese type is then again not quite as diverse)! I always take quite a while for my groceries 😉
People take the car a lot – often even short distances people will take the car instead of walking. That’s something I am not so used to – even though I’d say DC might be a little different in that respect, think of M-Street in Georgetown or some busy areas down-town, but I hardly ever see children walking to school for example.
What has been your biggest surprise with regard to living in Washington?
The weather, I was expecting a much milder climate and was hoping to escape the long German winter! Also it’s crazy how you can enjoy an ice cream and summery temperature as well as a pot of tea on a snow-day all in one week!
What do you miss about Germany?
Bäckereien – German bakeries or rather their bread, riding around town with my bike and of course my friends and family!
What has been your biggest lesson learned during your internship?
I wouldn’t call it a lesson in this sense, but I must say that I gained a deep respect for the US-Constitution or rather the political system as a whole which has been in place all these years. Of course it has needed amendments and is interpreted differently at times, but it has nevertheless created a framework for stable and prosperous democracy, that has persisted and will surely survive many a crisis to come. Not many countries can look back at such a long history of successful democratic governance!
Where do you plan to go or what do you plan to do after your internship?
I will return back to Frankfurt and start with the next chapter of my clerkship, where I will be working at an international-law firm for a few months.