I told you all I would blog all of this. Maybe you’ve been wondering about my radio silence from the sky.
But here’s the deal. I realized that Paris was my magnum opus. My baptism by fire into international travel. I've never pinned all of my thoughts and emotions and hopes to a place as I did to that city. That was the one place in all the world that I wanted to go. And so when I did, after seven years of waiting, I wanted to capture every moment in words. It was a labor of love—and it was completely exhausting.
So I can’t do that this time, I’m sorry. I can’t give you a play-by-play of what’s going on in Munich.
But Munich is—is—is—
I don’t know.
On my first day in Paris, I walked twenty miles. I walked and I walked and by the end of it, after just one day, I felt that I thoroughly understood that city.
But I haven’t walked and walked and walked all around Munich. Oh sure, I have walked a bit, of course—but I don’t know what I’d be looking for here. I don’t know what I should be walking towards. I’ve gone on some wanderings in the evenings, stumbling across clock towers or churches or rivers that are to me without name or meaning, but I do not have the same emotional attachment to this city as I did to Paris, Paris, my magnum opus, Paris—
(And I’m sorry I base everything off of Paris, but—)
Let me tell you one thing. In the end, Paris burned out the inside of my head and body. Everything about my existence was amplified by the hot nights, the dirty metro, the beggars on the streets, the fear that I was wasting my time if I wasn’t out doing something every second, the excessive ornamentation in every part of its being—
(Oh, but the history, the monuments, the cathedrals, the colors of the roofs and the limestone—!)
(Oh, but this was supposed to be about Munich!)
In short, in the end Paris was unlivable. It was a place where I could not have a sustainable existence. But Munich—despite operating in a language I can hardly understand—feels wholly livable.
It’s quiet here. Clean, orderly. The buildings on the streets are simple and pretty and painted in soft colors. People ride bikes—I like to watch them, see what they’re wearing. I like to watch Europeans.
I’m staying at an Airbnb in an apartment by a fountain. The lady I’m staying with has a cloud of curly hair and likes to talk when she comes home in the evenings. There’s a soup place next door that sells five soups and four of them are gluten-free. The only downside is that it closes by the time I get off of work—
Most evenings I sit in my room and talk to all of you on the internet. But all of last week it was raining—I’ll go see Munich this week and the next and the next, I swear—
But when it comes down to it, I’m not here to see Munich. I’m here to work for IDEO.
Let me tell you something about Paris. I had a job where I called, made appointments with, and talked to old people. While it was certainly a good experience and I learned a lot, I was also personally not at all cut out for that job. It caused me a great great deal of anxiety and that was maybe part of the reason that Paris burned out the inside of my head.
But let me tell you something else. On my first day I walked into IDEO…and it felt like I was coming home.
On that first day a week ago I walked into the office and there were people to greet me and welcome me and give me food and a bag with books and an IDEO finger rocket and a Bavarian pretzel. People kept introducing themselves to me all day and seemed so genuinely excited and happy I was there. Every single person I met was so genuine and friendly and all so wonderfully European.
Sometimes I can be pretty shy in new situations around new people, but in this case it felt like everything I love about BYU Industrial Design. Even though I know I’m still not 100% up to maximum Camilla speed it has been so incredibly easy for me to feel comfortable here and get to know people—
IDEO is in a red brick building two blocks from my current apartment. I walk there in five minutes in the mornings and they feed me breakfast, and half the time they feed me lunch. I swear last week we had three parties and I think that's normal.
The office space is split up into two floors, the top floor with rooms that house various projects and the bottom floor as a sort of open-office plan. There are desks and chairs and couches and basically you can just go sit/stand/work wherever you want. There is a kitchen and different meeting rooms near the front entrance and a library at the top of the stairs. The stools are incredibly comfortable and one of the walls is entirely windows and the entire office feels unpretentious and homey and it's just absolutely 100% for me.
I haven’t started on any projects yet. They have a bunch of projects that are finishing up right now and a bunch of projects will be starting soon, so I expect to be assigned to something by the end of this week. But I came here off the heels of finals week and I am so not used to being bored—so in the last few days I found ways to fill my time.
I was given a chalkboard wall to decorate so I went about that with a vengeance. (“Visual storytelling already on the first day, are we?” someone asked me as I was putting it up. “Well, that’s what they hired me for,” I said.) It’s a pretty good general overview of me and the stuff I do and two people told me it was beautiful so I guess that’s pretty good.
I wrote a piece on Hannah’s box experience for the IDEO blog and did a quick entry for one of IDEO’s internal design projects, an exploration around a topic called Designs On. You can see some past examples of work here. But I don’t know if I can actually tell you any more about it yet, because—
—all of my work here is strictly confidential. It’s the nature of the business—we’re designing a future that doesn’t exist yet. And we can’t be releasing hints about what we know before our client companies release the final product. So I know, I’m sorry, I wish I could be posting about all of my projects like I usually do, but unfortunately I can’t—
But that’s okay. I absolutely love it here. I am already getting to know the other interns and some of the designers and other staff. I don’t feel horrendously lonely like I feared I would. And like I said, I haven’t been assigned on a project yet but I’m so excited to get started—I feel like my BYU ID professors have done an amazing job preparing me, I feel like everything about the past few years of my life has led up to this moment—
Among my classmates, one thing we talk about a lot is cultural fit. When we went to the Rhode Island School of Design on our Boston trip, Kat liked it so much that she’s transferring there next year. When we went to Black Diamond in Utah on a random afternoon, Hunter and Josh thought it seemed like the absolute greatest thing. And I enjoyed all these trips, enjoyed seeing other perspectives, but I always held back, nothing ever seemed quite right—
—and maybe I’m speaking pre-emptively but coming here feels like I’m in place like a piece of a puzzle. Everything from the goals of the company to what people wear aligns with the ideal I’ve been drifting towards for the past three years.
A few months ago I didn’t know much about IDEO except for that it was like, the dream, right? That it’s something like the most famous and influential design firm in the world?
And I don’t understand it but it seems like your weird, individualist, off-the-rails Camilla accidentally turned out to be the type of person that feels like an exact cultural fit with the world of IDEO. I don’t even know what to say about this except that I hope I’m not wrong and I guess I got lucky.
People keep asking me “So why did you decide to come to Munich?” And my answer is not that I know anything about German or that I was passionately driven to visit the city. The answer is “So I could work at IDEO."
(And I hope this feeling never goes away—)