I have been home from Berlin for about a week now, and it has been quite a change. Things that I never noticed about America stick out to me like a sore thumb. The other day I went into a grocery store, and I almost had a heart attack when I saw the amount of frozen food aisles and huge shopping carts filled to the brim. On top of that, the differences in weight of the people surrounding me stunned me. Sure, I knew that the US had an obesity problem, but it never stuck out to me until I was living near skinny Europeans for three months.
Living alone in a different country made me a more independent person, and it also taught me to live life for myself. It also made me realize how much more there is outside of my own country. While in Germany, I was able to travel to 8 different countries, three of them alone, and I realized why people love Europe so much. It is not just because of the history and beauty, it is the whole atmosphere. People are much happier because they do not have a lot of the stress Americans have. Most people are more willing to help others because of the socialist attitude, and overall people seem more grateful for the lives they are living. Especially in Sweden. That was my favorite country.
In terms of my internship, it really opened my eyes to how much work goes into researching a topic and planning a study. The whole summer I was doing research for a systematic review, and even with me and two other interns working five days a week for 12 weeks we did to finish all of the research needed. Also, it showed me how underfunded research is, not just in Germany but everywhere. My mentor was one of the smartest, most accomplished people I have every met, and even with that she worked for weeks straight applying for grants to have her research be funded. This made me realize that I do not want to go into research full time, but with that being said I want to somehow work to make funding more widely accessible for people doing research around the world.
Lastly, to anyone thinking about doing an internship abroad, no matter the country or career field, do it. It may be scary, and you may not end up loving the internship, but it is an experience that will change your life. I am forever grateful for the opportunity hub for this experience. It has opened my eyes to so much more than what I though was possible, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.