Three areas of experiences. One incredible location. The University of Alberta’s e3 summer program in Berlin offers students a comprehensive experience unmatched by other study abroad programs.
Fusing academics with real-life work experience in one of the most dynamic and creative cities in the heart of Europe, e3 merge language study, internship placement and coursework together into an unforgettable summer adventure.
Current U of A Art & Design student, Rachel Killoh, is currently in Berlin. We asked her to share her experience with us thus far.
I heard about the University of Alberta’s e3 program in Berlin through a couple friends who had participated last year. I had no idea of what to expect coming in, other than the fact that I would receive credits doing work related to my degree, the prospect alone already had me excited. A new foreign place to travel around and do design work was attractive to me. This combined my two favorite things into one hopefully incredible experience. My internship placement was at Baukind, an architecture firm for children.
Baukind was a company started by product designer Lilia Kleeman and architect Nathalie Bepler. The team is made up of architects and product designers working together to build spaces that promote social interaction and positive growth for children. They partake in development from the early stages in choosing the appropriate property, until the end process of moving in- combining architecture, product and interior design all into one. I myself am an industrial design student going into my fourth year, and was fascinated by this smart, unique perspective at designing for children’s spaces; I was thoroughly excited to be joining the team!
My first day I was warmly welcomed into a spacious building; I was expecting separate office rooms, but was surprised to find one big open area in which I could easily see what everyone was working on at any given moment. I was immediately excited by the team-based atmosphere! My first lunch, I was about to go out to eat, then one of the architects said: “If you want to go out to eat you can, but we enjoy making lunch, and eating it together here.” Sure enough, we cooked, ate and conversed every other day. There has been several projects always being worked on at once, creating an atmosphere of excitement about new projects, ideas, innovation, and celebrating accomplishment when project were complete. It’s been a wonderful example of how a team can work together in such a positive manner.
My first assignments have been two very different projects along with a handful of other smaller side tasks. One is entirely interior design based work, as they are redesigning an old school in its entirety. I was asked to jump in to learning new software that architects use to help with the interior design of the school and ease some of the heavy workload of doing the interior work of the hallways and bathrooms. I’ve been deeply appreciating this opportunity to learn about the design of a building from these unique perspectives.
The second project seemed to be more up my alley of product design. As the firm has just moved into a new office in the bumping design area of the city – Oranienplatz – I have joined them in the middle of their process of redesigning their whole office space; my task has been to repurpose all of their old tables with an identical table leg design. I’ve been having loads of fun working on this so far, and with the challenges of keeping the exact same design for multiple table sizes, I’m excited to see the results as well as to partake in the process to make them come to life.
Not only have I had great exposure to design in my work place thus far, but I’ve also indulged in the art and design community in Berlin – It's been an incredible experience! Never in my life have I met so many like-minded people excited about design in one place. I walk down the street and run into stores everywhere dedicated to art and design, and every week there is a another cool museum, exhibition, or lecture I can attend. The world is filled with bright, creative ideas, and people are always buzzing about it here in Berlin.
Overall, the e3 program in Berlin has been an unbelievably great learning experience; not only have I gained my first hands-on experience in putting my curricular skills to use, but I’ve also been using these skills in a different country, where design is part of the culture, and is constantly being celebrated in unique and memorable ways.
Learn more about e3 in Berlin and the opportunity to intern abroad in summer 2017.