Intern Q&A: Paulina Kaup

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

Name: Paulina Kaup

Where you’re from:  My hometown is Kastellaun, a little castle town (as you maybe can see in the name) in Western Germany. It takes 30 minutes by car to get to the next train station and a 20 minute drive to the next Autobahn – but still, it is the best place I could imagine growing up.

Where and what you’re studying: I’m studying political science in Mainz, which is a typical student city close to Frankfurt. It’s famous for having the best wine, carnival and happy people!

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

The most exciting days were during the IMF-Spring Meetings. Our new finance minister Olaf Scholz came with a big delegation and I was honored to be able to accompany them. Those days gave me the opportunity to get close to the big shots and to see how hard politicians work. And on top of it, the whole delegation and my colleagues from the embassy were so friendly and open-minded. I value this experience and take home a fresh look on the necessity of multilateral cooperation.

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

This space is too small for such an important topic. In short: Renew and vitalize the European Union and make Transatlantic Relations continue to work.

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

DC is so international that I don’t think I got to experience a lot of “real” American culture. What I appreciated though is that most of the Americans are really friendly and will always help you.

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

I didn’t expect DC to be so hilly, so green and so European.

What do you miss about Germany?

To ride my bike to work /university. The road to the embassy was too dangerous to ride (and too hilly). I did have many interesting and funny Uber rides, but I prefer being active and independent from technology.

What has been your biggest lesson learned during your internship?

There is no ONE big lesson. Every day so many impressions overwhelm me. I’ve learned so much about trade, finance, agriculture, transportation and energy in the embassy’s economic department. I’ve learned about the work of the other departments, about other embassies, about diplomacy, world politics, history and so on… and besides that:

  1. This embassy with all his structures is truly German: So organized that it sometimes might even seem complicated again.
  2. Happy Hour is too short.
  3. And yet again my personal mantra was confirmed: Communication is the key. Talk to people, be open-minded and honest, and they will help you – and they may become good friends in the process.

What has been your biggest challenge living here?

Multitasking: Talking, smiling, being friendly and concentrated while eating an important dinner or lunch. Unfortunately, I’m the queen in spilling food on my blouse.

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

I’ll travel on my own through Canada and head back from Vancouver to Germany at the end of June. Then my “normal life” starts again: writing term papers, going to university and finishing my masters degree.

 

 

Intern Q&A: Jana Hofmann

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

Name: Jana Hofmann

Where you’re from: I’m from Menden, a town in the Sauerland, a region in Germany famous for winter sports.

Where and what you’re studying: I’m doing my master’s in Peace and Conflict Studies at University of Marburg.

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

I am so thankful for the many doors the Embassy opened for me: I was able to visit the White House, participate in an intern exchange with our co-workers from New York at the United Nations, and was included in media briefings with Ambassador Wittig. Every other week, I had the morning shift, starting at 5 AM, and did a press screening. As a news junkie, I enjoyed reading the papers and working on our daily press report . One highlight during my internship was the visit of our Minister of Economics, Peter Altmaier. I was allowed to cover his meetings for our social media channels and shadow the press secretary’s work.

German Embassy intern Jana spent many early mornings compiling the daily press report.

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

Growing up in a peaceful and united Europe, I can’t imagine Germany without the EU. I can travel through most of Europe without passing “real” borders and even pay with the same currency. I am thankful for all of the benefits my generation has because of the EU. That is why I am worried about the rise of extremism and populism in Germany and in Europe. I think my generation needs to stand up for the EU and speak up against populism and hate. The U.S. is our most important ally and we should strengthen the German-American friendship.

Besides, I have met so many Americans who have either served or lived in Germany. Our personal ties are tight, and we shouldn’t forget that the Germans and Americans are close on the personal and business level, while discussing and solving political differences.

What are some impressions you gained of the United States?

I am always happy to go back to the U.S. for a visit because people are so friendly and easy to talk to. I love that everyone greets you with a smile and starts small talk. Every time I visit, I realize again that this country is too big to explore in one trip or to understand from one experience. There are still so many places to visit!

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

How much the city has changed in just four years! I studied here for one semester during my bachelor’s and really fell in love with D.C. — the cute neighborhoods in Georgetown, the “I am in a movie”-feeling while walking past the White House, Capitol, and the monuments. When I first got here, it was sometimes hard to find restaurants and cafés that were not part of a chain. Now, there are so many up and coming neighborhoods.

I am, however, worried about the change of the city’s vibe. Everyday life has become even more politicized, if that is possible in one of the world’s most vibrant political cities. At least it’s more visible, and yet it has a positive flip side: people are standing up for their values and discussing what policies work best for the US and the world as a whole.

What do you miss about Germany?

“Kaffee & Kuchen”

My family and friends, and my boyfriend. I think you can get most German products in the US, and technology makes it easy to stay in touch, but I miss having a typical German “Kaffeetrinken” (drinking coffee) with homemade cake or cookies with my loved ones.

But I wouldn’t mind having my D.C. roommate’s chocolate cake when I’m back home!

What has been your biggest lesson learnt during your internship?

Ask questions – and, to quote a former professor of mine: “Do what makes your veins throb!” For me, the Embassy is more than a fancy building; it’s the people working here that make German foreign politics move forward, and everyone is doing his or her part, everyone has a story to tell. I loved learning more about a diplomat’s life and I am thankful my co-workers always made sure to take time to answer all my questions. I was also able to get to know people from the other departments and talk to them about their work. There are so many different people at the Embassy and when you talk to them, you can hear that they love their jobs. You can learn so much from those conversations, and many people are happy to give you advice – may it be on what to do and see in D.C. or helping you figure out what could be your next career step. You just have to ask.

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

I’ll be staying in D.C. for two more weeks to do some sightseeing and visit the Shenandoah National Park. I feel like I’ve had enough snow and cold for one winter, so I’m really happy that I’ll end my stay in the U.S. with a trip to Florida.

German Embassy intern Jana spent many early mornings compiling the daily press report.

Intern Q&A: Julia Reich

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

Name: Julia Alida Reich

Where you’re from: Empfingen, a small town in the beautiful Black Forest area in southern Germany

Where and what you’re studying: Berlin, Political Science and Business Psychology

What is one project or activity you enjoyed at the Embassy?  I enjoyed participating and helping to set up the event „E-mobility: The Future of Transportation: Opportunities and Challenges for the U.S. and Germany“ at the Convention Center. We had a very interesting panel and I think it is a very important topic for Germany and the US to be working more closely together in the future.

What do you think is one of Germany’s main foreign policy challenges?
Growing up and learning about the past the narrative seemed to tell that after WWII and the collapse of the Berlin Wall we would see the “end of history”. As seen nowadays, history has not come to an end, but we are living in times of political change and political surprises. I think Germany within its position in the European Union should never stop to advocate for peace, security and prosperity. Also, Germany should take efforts and patience to explain the complexity of this tumultuous world.

What are some impressions you gained of the United States? As I’ve lived in the US before as an exchange student 7 years ago in a suburban area around Houston, Texas; I gained a new impression of the US through living in a city on the East Coast. I think we in Europe forget sometimes how big the US is and it is impressive that this size of land and diversity of people is being managed as one nation.

What has been your biggest surprise with regard to living in Washington? The weather! I would have never imagined the weather could change from -16°C (3°F) to 18°C (65°F) within 24 hours.

What do you miss about Germany? My family, friends and my cat.

What has been your biggest lesson learnt during your internship? Never forget to carry your room key with you, in case your colleague steps out and shuts the door 😉

Where do you plan to go after your internship? As I just finished my studying I’ll be heading back to Berlin to work for KPMG.