This week, we are introducing one of our interns at the German Embassy. Our Q&A with Helena sheds light on her experience as a German in the US – and the Embassy!
Where you’re from: I am from Bonn, which used to be the capital when Germany was divided into East and West. It is now the second seat of the government, so a lot of ministries are still based here. Besides its political history, Bonn also offers a huge cultural history as it’s the hometown of Beethoven.
Where and what you’re studying: I have just obtained a bachelor’s degree in Law & Economics from the University of Bonn. This interdisciplinary study program is quite unusual in Germany, because normally one starts with law school right away, as it is not a graduate program and a full time occupation. When I graduated high school I didn’t want to commit to one field of study right away, but rather gather experiences in different subjects. After my return to Germany I will continue to study law.
What is one project or activity you enjoyed at the Embassy?
As an intern in the economics department, I worked a lot with my colleagues from the science and transportation sections on new generation vehicles and China’s emerging markets in this sector. These projects were especially exciting for me because this is a topic I normally do not come into contact with at university. It feels good to be at the pulse of innovation, especially because these new technologies will affect me and everyone else in our future.
What has been your biggest surprise with regard to living in Washington?
I actually imagined Washington to be much more busy and stressful. Even though being the capital, there are many quiet spots to relax after a long day at work and you don’t feel that urge to get out of the city on the weekends like in New York. But at the same time it never gets boring because there are always enough events going on.
What do you miss about Germany?
Laugenstangen, Laugenbrötchen, Laugenbretzel – basically everything that is made out of the soft pretzel dough and it is very hard to find whole wheat bread that is similar to ours in Germany. I also miss being able to walk and ride my bike almost everywhere. Bonn is a rather small university town, so getting around in a huge city like Washington was different. I mostly used the metro or Uber.
What has been your biggest lesson learnt during your internship?
Being in the diplomatic service requires a commitment that expands beyond working hours and has a great impact on your private life. But one is rewarded by a rich diverse experience of interesting communicative challenges, cultural differences and a multitude of perspectives.
Where do you plan to go or what do you plan to do after your internship?
Unfortunately, I will not be able to travel around this beautiful country like some of my fellow interns, because university starts the day after my return home. In the next months I am going to start with a preparatory course for my first state exam, for which you normally prepare and study for over a year.