On Sunday, twenty amazing students gathered with program leaders at big city airports across the United States, with some students already in Europe, to begin our journey to Berlin, Germany for CIEE's Global Entrepreneurship program. Naturally, the flights were long, but greater still was the sense of adventure and excitement. Everyone quickly began to congregate, form connections, share about themselves and discover new friends. Food was a great bridge-builder, like sharing where to find a good Caramel Macchiato in Newark International Airport - ah, that long, long layover for some of us! After conferring on the best place for tacos, one of the students bought temporary tattoos for her new friends. What else to do on an 8+ hour layover at an international airport?
Finally, at the Berlin airport...
Sunday morning and afternoon were a bit of a blur. With tired, but wide eyes, we deplaned and breezed through German customs with unexpected ease. There were some attempts at a group picture, and then a tour bus carried us to Gneisenaustraße 27, about 3 miles south of the Brandenburg Gate. The staff of the CIEE Global Institute Center welcomed us with piles of gourmet sandwiches, wraps, delicious pastries, vegan meatballs, and even sushi! After a nap, for those who were lucky and took advantage, there was pizza, group-building activities, and our first official group picture.
Monday morning was spent in orientation, more good food and excursions to discover the best places to eat. In the afternoon, we were had a walking tour in downtown Berlin. So much history! So much to take in!
Classes in Global Entrepreneurship began on Tuesday morning. At first, some wondered exactly what entrepreneurship really entails, but the first day proved to be a masterful hook. Students broke into collaborative small groups to wrestle with the concepts of competitive advantage and failure, and the true definition of social entrepreneurship. They were challenged to imagine the group projects they will develop over the three weeks. That evening, students raved about the experience. That was just DAY ONE. Still to come: project & idea generation, lean startup methodology and the value of market research. And that's just week ONE!
Students also had part 1 of their crash course in German on Tuesday, most starting with no background knowledge in the language. Wie heißt Du? Ich heiße Kristina. Woher kommst du? Ich komme aus den USA. While students don't delve too deeply into the German language, they are discovering the thrill of immersion, of hearing a different language (in fact, hearing many languages in this very international city). What's more, they are learning that global discovery is not bound in the translation of just words; it is about new ways of thinking and different perspectives, which is why we think Berlin is a BRILLIANT place for them to gather for this great adventure.