We’ve spent the last nine days in Berlin. One of the options for the Summer Term was a week-long intensive course on international business – the IBST or International Business Study Trip. I signed up for this back in November, and it seemed like a no-brainer. It ended up being a worthwhile week as we had the opportunity to explore Berlin and learn more about the German economy first-hand.
Rebecca and I ended up being on the same flight as colleagues from the MBA Programme Team on the way over to Berlin – so fun to run into them at the airport! After we landed and got settled at the hotel, we decided to explore Berlin and ended up walking into the middle of a ‘Music is the Answer’ parade. After that, we went on a hunt for döner. A favorite for me since I first tried one in Munich in 2015.
Sunday was the hottest day in Berlin in recorded history, I believe, so naturally, Rebecca, Cass, and I decided to go on a three-hour walking tour of the city. Why not? Our tour guide was a Master’s student from America and brought some fun flair to the tour. I appreciated how she pulled in other moments in history to highlight that humans being terrible to one another happened long before the Nazi party came into existence. History is cyclical and we can all learn from that.
I have visited other parts of Germany before, but this was my first time in Berlin and the city does not shy away from the horrors that happened here – from WWII to Soviet occupation in East Berlin. It’s crazy how much history happened in this little city. You can see a lot of the Soviet influence in architecture from their reconstruction period after WWII. Our tour guide told us to watch out for areas where the ground was higher than its surroundings – those are locations where it was decided to just rebuild on top of the rubble rather than attempt to clear it. By the end of the tour, we were all a little hot and went on the hunt to find a place to eat some lunch.
Sunday was the official kickoff of the International Business Study Trip, and we had dinner at this lovely neighbourhood restaurant along a little river. The food was so fresh, and it kept coming. My tummy was very happy – one of the desserts was even strawberries with (whipped) cream, what we had been expecting at Wimbledon! A swing was spotted, and we kept our eyes peeled on when we could take a turn on it.
Monday we hit the ground running. Classes in the morning and then site visits in the afternoon. After a few weeks without lectures, it felt a little weird to get back into that, but one of my (everyone’s) favourite professors – Michael Kitson – taught part of the programme which was great. After our first site visit to Zalando, a throwback to Michaelmas Term and Accounting lectures, we did a bus tour of Berlin as a class. We saw the East Side Gallery, Checkpoint Charlie, Brandenburg Gate, and Parliament. At the end of the tour, Rudolf, a classmate who lived in Berlin for a few years was waiting for us! He kindly, and unexpectedly gave some of us a tour of Berlin that ended with ice cream. I think it’s always so much more special to see a city through the eyes of someone who truly knows it. While eating our ice cream in a local park, we shared some jokes.
The days repeated much like this throughout the week. Just insert a new company in the afternoon. Throughout the rest of the week, we visited the following companies; Bayer Pharma, Refugio Berlin, VOSTEL, Plan A, and Google!
In the evenings we filled our time with museum visits. First being the Cold War Museum, which left a lot to be desired, in my opinion. But they had a whole section devoted to the space race and that brought a big smile to my face. Another evening we went to a brewery and met an investment banker MBA turned brewer/entrepreneur. It’s always interesting to hear the stories of those that have come before.
This whole week I have just been exhausted. I feel like I’m operating at half-speed. I think the intensity of the past nine months has finally caught up to me. So on Thursday evening I went back to the hotel early and tried to crash.
Friday marked the end of lectures and a celebration at the end of the evening. We hopped on a boat for an hour-long trip down the Spree River in the heart of Berlin, leading us to the Parliament Building (Reichstag). At the top of this building is a beautiful glass dome that provides fantastic views of the city. We explored that and then ate dinner at the rooftop restaurant.
At some point during dinner, the topic of continents came up, and it was determined that different people think there are a different number of continents in the world. It appears that Americans have 7 continents drilled into them from a young age – everyone else I verbally pooled had to think about the number. Since I don’t have an excuse to mass email my classmates anymore, I decided to take a mass poll in the WhatsApp. The results were surprising and another reminder that we all were raised differently, taught different things, and have different perspectives to bring to conversations.
While several of my classmates attempted to experience the infamous Berlin clubs after dinner on Friday, I opted to stay back and try to get more sleep. There was no chance I was going to get in anyway, no matter what I wore.
We were able to have a slow start to Saturday which was lovely. Around noon, Rebecca and I made our way to the Jewish Museum on cycles and spent an unexpected three hours there. This museum was architecturally stunning and successful in making you feel disoriented and uncomfortable as you walked through. I was very impressed with the flow and the displays that they had. In the end, we were both down. After a late lunch stop at Burgermeister, we met up with Cass and Ruth at a very cool rooftop bar, Klunkerkranich. Thankfully it didn’t rain on us as we cycled back to the town centre. To end the evening we went to the church Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church to listen to a strings/organ concert. It was very enjoyable.
Sunday we checked out of the hotel and went back to the Topographies of Terror museum and finished that one out. We had one more döner, grabbed our bags, and headed to the train station.
The MBA International Business Study Trip is one of the options for the Summer Term – for more details visit our Cambridge MBA Curriculum pages >