It’s hard to believe that I’ve already been in Germany for a week. It might have something to do with the fact that I’ve been half asleep the whole time. Jetlag is a beast of its own and has thoroughly confused my body until recently. My running coach, Coach Falk, told me that every timezone you go through takes about a day for your body to recover, I now concur.
After a week of changes and firsts, I’m starting to feel settled. Everything is unpacked and has a place. My day is starting to become rhythmic and this is good since I like routine. I’m getting accustomed to the hours of work and the general region in which I’m living. If you were to look at the photos within my album on Facebook, entitled Germany Eins, you’d see the my house in the quaint town of Hershey is far different from my house in Leopoldstal, Germany. When I walk out my door every morning, I don’t see other cars or other houses, I see cows and running trails. Don’t get me wrong, this is great .. it’s just different.
I’ll walk you through a day in my life, this past week. Every morning I rise at 6:00am so that I’m able to get a quick shower, dressed, and a small bite to eat. At 6:40am, I walk outside my front door to meet my neighbor and his two daughters. His name is Sven and his daughters are Jenny and Vanessa. Each day, we then drive two minutes to drop Jenny off for the bus and then another minute to drop Vanessa off for the train. This is followed by a 15 minute drive to Blomberg, where Sven and I talk about vocabulary and what we will carry out that day. The drive is scenic and a good way to start the morning.
I arrive at work around 7:00am and then make my way to building 14. After I hike my way to the third floor Key Account Management section of the building, I am able to start my day. For the first week, a glass of Apfelsaftschorle and bread with cheese accompanied me during the morning. I ate for the second time in the morning to ensure that my body would stay awake and that I was nourished. It seemed to do the trick, keeping me awake and productive.
During the first week, I was assigned my seven projects, given a company orientation, and treated to meals several times. All the people within my department were very welcoming and anxious to learn about me. I realized that the trip would be a two-way road since they were appreciative that I brought new skills to the table. Most of my work during this summer will be on a process improvement basis. I will be analyzing the systems they use to complete various tasks and search for cheaper, quicker, more effective ways to do them. They hope that I bring experience and knowledge from the systems are effectively seen within the US subsidiary. Hopefully I will not disappoint by the end of my stay.
At 12:00pm everyday, a few colleagues and myself take a two-minute trek over to the company cafeteria. Within the cafeteria there is an ATM, where I’m able to withdrawal money, as well as tons of meal options, of course! The meals are all priced around 4 to five Euro which is about equal to what I’d pay for lunch in the US. Most employees only eat lunch for about a half hour so that they can get out the door quicker at the end of the day.
There are many perks to the company in Germany in comparison to in the USA. For instance, each employee has a card that they scan upon entering the building. This card doubles as a timecard and a debit card for lunch. It keeps track of your weekly hours which allows people to essentially make their own hours. If someone wants to come in at 6 and leave at 3, they can. It is quite empowering to the employees to have the freedom to build their own hours. Another benefit is that if an employee works longer nights and works more than their 40 hours for the week, it is then added to their vacation. However, some employees have 100 hours of vacation and no time to spend it.
After lunch each day, I head back to my workstation to finish out the last three hours or so hours of my day. All of the people within my department are quite friendly to me and are willing to help me with my German. At first, we were speaking predominantly german but that became a little overwhelming. Now, they speak a sort of Denglish (Deutsch and English) to me. I try to respond in German unless I don’t have the vocabulary. I’m starting to feel much more confident with my speaking and hope that my grammar grows as exponentially as my vocabulary is.
At the end of each day I head back to the front gate of the building and meet my neighbor Sven.
We then drive back to our house and discuss if we will make plans for the rest of the night. So far, he has taken me to the grocery store one night, to a local city known as Detmold, and out for ice cream. I’m very fortunate to have helpful people surrounding me at work and at home.
Each night is when I have my opportunities to explore. However, for most of the first week I was trying to get settled. I did manage to go for a run, a two-hour bike ride, and for some local exploration. Starting on Monday I’m going to begin to start training regularly again and prepare for Cross Country. There are limitless trails surrounding my house that will accommodate for all of my needs.
If there are any things that you’d wish I’d elaborate on, make sure to leave a comment below illustrating what you’d like. My next post will be about my trip to Hannover on friday and the adventure that unfolded. The story is one of a kind and will surely be a good read, but until then tschuss!