Berlin vs. Bank Account

Ryan Bullett, International Internship Program: Berlin Summer 2022

Throughout my time studying abroad in Berlin, I encountered many challenges I had never faced before. This was my first time in Europe and my first time living in a foreign country so I had to work to adapt to the culture. Overall, I feel like I did a good job overcoming the challenges I faced in Germany. I went into the program having completed cross-cultural training which helped with the cultural challenges, and it sounds dumb but my positive attitude helped me with all the other challenges. I came in knowing there were going to be hiccups along the way so I tried my best to laugh off the inconveniences which started even before I took off. I did a good job of not letting the little things get to me, which made the whole trip a lot more enjoyable for myself and those around me.
I think the biggest challenge I faced relates to my bank account. There’s so much happening at all times in Berlin. Irresistible food at every corner, enticing shops with items I’ve always wanted, concerts every week. I want to do and buy everything. It's hard to find the balance between going all out and being responsible with my spending. On one hand I’m on a once-in-a-lifetime trip, and I don’t know when or if I’ll ever be back. My roommate and I have adapted the oftentimes dangerous saying “when in Germany.” Usually, it’s followed by a reach into my fanny pack and the satisfying but ever so painful beep from the tapping of a credit card. On the other hand, I’ve grown up with financial responsibility lessons drilled into my head, and I’ve always been careful with my spending. This is a problem I never knew I’d face because I’ve never been this tempted to spend money in my life. I’m still working on finding the balance, but to help overcome this challenge, I’ve been taking advantage of every small way to save money, especially during the week. For example, finding free bathrooms. This is something small, but paying a euro per public bathroom can start to add up. Another way I’ve been saving is by eating more grocery store meals. During my lunch break at work, I started going to the grocery store rather than eating out all the time. My go-to is a ham sandwich on a croissant which only sets me back a few euros. A lot of food in Berlin grocery stores is sold in single servings, which is super convenient for lunch. For dinner during the week, I started making food at home most days. These small changes have made me feel less anxious about splurging a bit on the weekends.