A large part of the Plus3 Germany experience is going on company visits to learn how they operate and all work together to produce automobiles.  These visits were very interesting and gave me a taste of what it is like to be a part of a company.  This is something that you can’t get from lectures and recitations.  I was surprised by how open the companies were with us and how willing they were to tell us their strategies, strengths, and weaknesses.  Out of all the companies we visited, BMW was probably my favorite because it produced a finished product and you could see the products from the other companies come together.  We saw machines and parts similar to the ones from Hirschvogel, exhaust systems that could have been made by Faurecia, KUKA robots, and SGL carbon.  We saw both the business and engineering sides of the companies we visited and it helped to reassure me that engineering is the better fit for me.

The other large part of Plus3 Germany is learning about German culture and your own in turn.   I was surprised by how similar German culture was to US culture.  Most things are just slightly different with a few quirks here and there that surprise you from time to time.  For example, you don’t get free tap water at restaurants, you can usually only get sparkling water.  Plus3 Germany has really shown me that people, no matter where they come from, are still people just like you and me with similar beliefs and values.  I was also amazed by all the deep and rich history that we got to experience and we only had the chance to brush the surface.

Travelling to Germany put me face to face with many challenges that looking back, were fun and exciting to overcome even if they were stressful in the beginning.  Navigation has always been a struggle for me, and in Germany, there is an entirely different transportation system consisting of trams and trains.  While it took a bit to get used to, it was really fun to learn the transportation system in Germany.  I think I am actually going to miss it.  Trying to navigate through menus is also a fun challenge.  It helps to have someone who knows a little German.  Some places had English menus which helped prevent me from accidentally ordering calf lung once, but sometimes it is fun to just order something that you have no idea what it is.

This trip to Germany has been one of my favorite experiences and I would never want to give it back.  It has helped me grow as a person, academically, culturally, and socially.  I think that everyone should participate in a study abroad program if they have the chance and I hope I can squeeze in another study abroad into my extremely tight schedule.  My advice to anyone considering doing study abroad it to just do it.  It is a once in a life time opportunity that is equally rewarding and exciting.

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