Signal kommt

Lieber Gast,

Brauchen Sie Hilfe bezüglich Ihrs Gepäck,

dann rufen Sie bitte die folgende Number an: 0049 xxx xxxxxxx – 0049 xxxxxxxxxx

Right. Though I managed to storm through the playground-sized duty-free stores in Dublin Airport to catch my connecting flight to Hamburg with my best racing skills, my checked baggages didn’t make it.

Wanna know what happened eventually?

Stay tuned for my next blog post, where I would be sharing fun encounters during my summer intern life here in Hamburg, Germany.

For now, if you choose to keep reading, you will get a sneak peek of what it is like to be an intern at an education institute of a specialized agency of an intergovernmental organization (trying my best to maintain the anonymity) on a typical weekday.

8:00 a.m. Wake Up


I am fortunate enough to wake up to this beautiful scene every morning.

It takes an average total of 41 minutes to commute to the office from home.

I usually leave the house around 9:00 a.m. so that I can get a big (which is really an American small) ice café latte on my way.

10:00 a.m. Time to Work

Interns are expected to arrive at 10 and currently there are nine of us sharing an office space located in the library reading room. Each of us is assigned to a desktop spot. I am table #10.

The office + my IEDP cohort: Cindy!

The first thing I stare at after the desktop starts to run is my inbox, because chances are that the meetings you are scheduled for the day earlier would be postponed due to more urgent matters.

I am sensing a tone of slim negativity here, so let me switch-

I am currently supporting two programmes in Literacy and Basic Skills.

Programme #1 is an online database collection of case studies of youth and adult literacy programmes around the world. Programme #2 is an advocacy initiative for the twenty countries with an adult literacy rate below 50% and the E9 countries, where the largest number of illiterate adults live.

Which twenty countries?

Afghanistan, Benin, Burkina Faso, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, Central African Republic, Chad, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Iraq, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and South Sudan.

What are the E9 countries?

Nigeria, Egypt, Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Brazil, and Mexico.

Due to the very different natures of these two programmes, I am lucky enough to be able to work on a good variety of tasks.

For Programme #1, I am drafting case studies and uploading finalized case studies to the database. Drafting a case study feels a lot like writing a Prosem assignment…but with a much more urgent deadline (usually within two days, three the most). While drafting and editing case studies might sound simple enough itself, but the process can take longer than you would expect. The range could go from 3 months to…a year. In a nutshell, the development of a full case study in the database takes the following basic steps:



For the first month, most of my work was on Stages 1-4. But lately, I have deeply bonded with Stage 5: uploading case studies to the database by converting Word documents to HTML files. After a brief introduction to the HTML language from the librarian, I was able to write HTML! This is probably the closest I will ever get to coding…though HTML is not considered to be a programming language, but rather a markup language. And I have to be honest-I have found everlasting peace when I write HTML, which I believe has absolutely nothing to do with my Asian nature. You can click here to take a share of my overflowing joy.

For Programme #2, I am preparing brief notes on country profiles on literacy and related domains as well as researching for NGOs that provide adult literacy services in the 29 countries. These pieces of information are used in facilitating the development of a survey instrument to the governments and NGOs of the 29 countries.

11:15 a.m. Coffee Break

Staff here sign up to make coffee every day. Everyone is encouraged to take the 15-min coffee break to refresh and catch up with co-workers on things that can be communicated better in-person than emails. But since I am pretty satisfied with emails (and Skype!) and I prefer iced coffee anyway, I usually skip the coffee break, unless I decide to be extra social that day. (Yeah, that was a joke.)

1:00 p.m. Lunch Time

Joint Lunch for all staff last Friday

The office is located in the embassy area and close to the university. In other words, there is a good variety of options for lunch (and ordering in English), not to mention there is a Food Truck Market running on Thursdays. Or, occasionally, people just decide to put all of their lunch boxes together and share.

2:00 p.m. Back to Work

In the afternoon, I usually put on my headphones and perform my mad typing and clicking skills to enter the flow state.

5:00 p.m. OT or not OT

OT happens. But it is totally up to you whether to take it or not. Sometimes, I choose to stay in the office for an extra hour to continue my flow state. Sometimes, I just leave at 5:00 and see what I feel like when I get home. But I have to admit that there have been two weekends when I worked a total of twenty hours. A more in-depth analysis of this topic will be presented in my third blog post. (What an intriguing preview…).

6:00 p.m. After Work

Celebration dinner with Cindy at Neumann restaurant after first day of work

It doesn’t get dark until 10:00 p.m. here, which sets it perfect for some extracurricular after-work activities, ranging from getting Asian food supplies to hanging out with friends, or even just taking a walk around the city.

This is Yingxue, a graduate student at Penn, currently doing her summer internship in Hamburg, Germany as the last stop of her IEDP journey.

Thank you for taking your time to walk along!


3 thoughts on “Signal kommt

  1. I absolutely love the tone of your blog. Only if I could write like you 🙂 It was such an animated yet cute post. Looking forward to hearing more about your experience in Hamburg! And yes, editing HTML file is weirdly satisfying hahaha

    Liked by 1 person

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