Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Lebenslauf

[ résumé ]

In between all of the normal school work, language learning, family-life experiencing events that are taking place here during my year abroad in Germany, there have been things still happening behind the scenes that I have needed to complete to make sure that I follow the program I am on with CBYX.

As I have mentioned, the CBYX program is the Congress-Bundestag scholarship for young professionals, therefore internship work is a fundamental part of the program - over 5 months of the year. Aside from the challenges of completing successful work in a German company, let alone speaking enough German to function in an office environment, an internship is not just handed to me with this program - part of the adventure this year is finding, applying and landing a praktikum on my own terms.

During the language school phase this was a very daunting feeling for me - I am 19, don't speak business level German and I don't even have a college degree - unlike many other PPPler. How was I going to find any job let alone something that I would find beneficial to me. Fortunately my InWEnt representative [ from the program that advises us through our scholarship year here in Germany ] has given me a couple names and numbers as leads here in Göttingen. At least I know where some political party offices are now, and a name to address my cover letter of my resume, but the rest of the work has been up to me and my choppy German skills from there.

[ My resume that I have had to correct numerous times to get the German right and translate my experience and background from America into understandable language in German. I have also completed a cover letter in German that explains my experience in Germany and the reasons why I am searching for that particular job - a necessary attachment to the Lebenslauf here in Germany.]

Over the past couple of weeks I have organized some meetings around the city in between my class schedule, got on a shirt and tie and nervously anticipated a lengthy conversation in German explaining my opportunities here in Germany under my scholarship and my next step in finding an internship to start in February.

So far I have had a few meetings with the Green party here in Göttingen, and coming soon another few meetings to introduce myself to the FDP party. Things have gone smoothly so far - a lot of vocabulary I now know I need to learn - but at least I held my own in the conversations with my new potential Chefs - bosses.

Kekse backen

[ Cookie Baking ]

Christmas season seems to be well underway already here in Germany, which made me realize that Thanksgiving is just around the corner in America and the festive month will be starting there just as well. At first I thought that things were starting too early - they don't really do Halloween here... so you can imagine that Christmas candy was already out in late October! - but time has flown and the holidays are already starting.

Even this early in the season - it isn't even December yet! - I am already noting some of the differences - mostly subtle, yet some profound - that will make this Christmas so different for me - my first opportunity to experience Weihnacten.

Last weekend, Andreas was out of town and Inge and I were home for the weekend. On Saturday she had to run some errands [ turning out to be some items for early Christmas packages ] but she told me that we could meet up while she was in town. The weather was great - sunny and mild temperatures - which is something that you come to appreciate to the fullest in the overcast, rainy season of late fall in Germany. The meeting place was one of the most famous Konditorei in Göttingen, a well known Confiserie, that specialized in towering torts and handmade chocolate truffles [ which I picked up for Andreas a while back as a surprise just striking some luck that they turned out to be some of the best in all of Germany - "of course that why I picked them out from there!" ;) ].


Inge was already in the holiday spirit and amongst her shopping wanted to enjoy a weekend kaffe und kuchen with me - typical German midday coffee and cake. The tradition is quite popular in Germany, especially on weekends and with older generations, to enjoy a nice Pause in the day complemented with a great multi-layered tort.

I met Inge at 4 pm sharp - I am sure to follow her very German Pünktlichkeit - and we ordered great slices of cake - Inge boasting that they were some of the best in Northern Germany [ I won't disagree! ] along with some frothy Cappuccino. Our conversation was long and very enjoyable, and I feel that it was a good bonding experience - something that I will admit has been challenging to foster amongst the stressful transitions from family in Saarbrücken to German university, but I have been making sure to appreciate and work to cultivate nonetheless.


Our weekend together continued with some more holiday preparations. Next Sunday marks the first Sunday of Advent officially starting the German Christmas season [ complete with great outdoor Wiehnachtsmarkts, Glühwein and shelves of very well-known advent calendars filled with daily chocolates. ]



[ Our production line of cooling the crispy cookies and selecting perfect shapes from the oddities to sort them into the right Christmas tins ]

Our kitchen was warm and aromatic with sweet holiday spices since Inge and I were preparing some of her passed-down-through-generations ginger-snap cookies - loaded with nuts and other candied fruits and spices. Even the knife that we used to cut the cookies was from Inge's grandmother - warn and aged - making me appreciate the traditions that this family had, all the while I got to excitedly share some stories of my own.


I can feel deep down the realization that I will be here in Germany missing Thanksgiving, Christmas and everything in between while living abroad - but I know in myself, and as a message to all my friends and family back home that I will be missing over these very important few weeks, that there will be many new traditions and opportunities for me to learn about that I hope to experience to the fullest and share with everyone when I return.