Written by: Kenny Quinn (BComm Candidate), Scott Campbell (BComm Candidate)
May 6, 2016
Our first official day in Berlin began with a brief train ride on the U-Bahn to the Canadian Embassy. Traveling in a group of 30 students proved to be rather difficult with the train doors closing with only a second warning. We quickly learned that, unlike the LRT trains in Edmonton, the doors in Berlin do not seem to have sensors and will close on anyone entering the train once the red light begins to flash. Undeterred by the fast paced and unfamiliar train system, we arrived at the Canadian Embassy on time to start our day.
At the Embassy, we were greeted by members of the Trade Commissioner Service. The three primary functions identified were: helping Canadians export goods to Germany, expanding German foreign direct investment into Canada and supporting science, technology and innovation. In the first section on Canada-Germany economic relations, we learned that machinery (not natural resources) is Canada’s main export to Germany. When discussing German business culture, we learned the value that small and medium sized German firms place on reliability and confidence when making business decisions. Next, we talked about research and innovation, where we learned that the key resource in the German economy is “the six inches between the ears.” Finally, we were introduced to the International Experience Canada program and how young professionals like ourselves have opportunities to get global work experience.
Following lunch, we departed on a guided bus tour of Berlin. On this tour, we were able to drive past some of the most iconic landmarks in Berlin, including the Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, Museum Island, the German Parliament and parts of the old Berlin Wall.
On this tour, the guide highlighted that recent statistics show that more tourists are now visiting Berlin than Rome. Later on in the tour, the guide was able to provide one explanation for this – “Berlin is constantly changing. You can come back every 5 years and find something new. Meanwhile, Rome will always be Rome.” As we began to see more of Berlin, the reality of this statement has resonated with us.
The last formal element of the day was traveling to the Technical University of Berlin EUREF Campus to receive a brief introduction to the University’s Master of Energy Management, as well as its brand new Sustainability Masters program. The EUREF Campus is situated on an urban renewal site and makes clever use of old buildings and brought a fresh take on what an environmentally sustainable future should look like. Most notably, it has established strong connections with industry to bring about innovative energy solutions. While visiting the campus, we were able to talk to students in the program to learn more about their backgrounds, the School and Berlin.
We are looking forward to our next adventure in Berlin!