Berlin helped me to feel more like a European citizen
Corinna Hoey’s LdV experience
I completed my degree in Belfast, but after my second year I was fortunate enough to be offered a year of study in America. That year changed me in ways I couldn’t have predicted, so once my degree was finished, I began to get itchy feet again.
I knew I wasn’t ready to begin full time employment, and with the confidence of my time in America behind me, I started looking for alternatives.
I learnt about the Eurograd programme, funded by the Leonardo da Vinci scholarship, through my university’s career service, and went along to one of their stalls at a graduate open day.
Following a few interviews, my placement in Berlin was confirmed.
I left Berlin at the end of my placement largely because I don’t speak German! I had lessons while I was there, but still wasn’t fluent enough to hold down a job that wouldn’t be mostly carried out in English.
If that barrier hadn’t existed, I think I’d still be there now. I really did love being there.
Living in Germany for four months has definitely made me feel like more of a European citizen. It’s opened my eyes to the possibilities beyond the United Kingdom, as living in Berlin was not as much of a culture shock as I had expected.
Professionally, this was my first full-time job, so taught me a lot about managing work and play, adapting to new challenges and learning quickly on the job. I was very lucky to be placed in an organisation working with people from all over the world, so I learnt about cultures even further afield than just Germany.
My role involved me blogging about an environmental education programme, hosted in Berlin for professionals from South Africa, Brazil, India & Germany. I got to follow along with the course, while interacting with the staff and students and developing my social media/writing skills.
Outside of work, I got to properly explore a new city, not as a tourist but as a resident, albeit a temporary one. I made new friends, and we still talk so excitedly about the adventures we had in Berlin.
I lived with such a friendly and welcoming lady, called Una, in a really cosy flat. She also had another Portuguese girl lodging with her, so again I was exposed to more than just German culture and people.
I have recommended travel/study/living abroad to anyone who will listen! I’m back home now, and I’m trying to convince myself to leave again because I know what a fantastic experience it is. The initial upheaval and transition is worth it, because I learnt things I just couldn’t have had I remained at home.