Plus3, the name stuck in my head since the summer before my freshmen year. I always considered studying abroad as a must for my college to-do list and being able to do that freshmen year is a bonus. But I was put on the Plus3 waitlist. Weeks were flying by and there were no signs of me getting into the program. I sent emails, talked to people. Trying everything I could to grab that slim chance of me getting off the waitlist. Then, the memory of me getting the acceptance email is still as clear as a crystal in my mind. I jumped with joy, calling my parents and telling them “I’m studying abroad for two weeks, in Germany” with excitement. The question I came across too many times was, “Why do you want to study abroad?” Experience? Step out of comfort Zone? Try to be independent? Sure, but for me, there’s something else. I want to find things that can surprise me, things I would never know if I didn’t go on this trip. Through the help of PittBusiness and its Plus3 program, and the 1000-dollar Thomas Angelo Honors Scholarship, I am able to find these surprises during my journey in Germany.
Company visits at BMW, Continental, SGL, KUKA, and H&K are probably the biggest highlights of this trip. Out of these, BMW was my favorite. Through Plus3, we were not only given a chance to walk around the BMW Museum located in the BMW Headquarters in Munich, we also had the opportunity to tour the factory where the BMWs are made, and we learned about the steps of making a BMW and how each part are made. I’ve always thought of BMW as just a luxury German car brand, but the museum changed every single drop of thought I had about BMW prior to this visit. Walking through lines of car models, rows of car machines, rooms of idea showcases, walls of the detailed description of every single point of history since BMW was founded, and seeing many things I never thought BMW was part of, such as making parts for airplanes and boats. BMW is more than a luxury car brand, it is a company that left footprints all over the world, a company that is history itself, a company that can bring us a brighter future. Touring the factory was a different kind of “wow”, I was surprised how the production process has already become so automated. The tour guide told us how each part and process need to be extremely precise and accurate, and they are able to do so while producing a large amount of quantity through investing in more automation in the process. My professor once told me that one truly learns by seeing the deeper truth and understand it. The BMW site visit taught us to see BMW more than just a car and a name: The process of making a car and the generalization of automation technology in the production process.
Days without site visits were scheduled for sightseeing. Augsburg turned out to be a great location, in the middle of everywhere. We went to towns like Regensburg and Ulm; infamous tourists’ destinations like Neuschwanstein Castle and Munich; Salzburg, the town in Austria that gave the world Mozart and Sounds of Music; and of course, the most important part of German history, concentration camps. Germany and Austria are different than any other places I have traveled to. All the towns are medieval style like in the movies, each has their own unique and unforgettable history and story. For example, Regensburg. The city tour guide told us back in the days it was a race whether the cathedral will be completed first or the bridge that serves as the only entry into the city. She also told us Regensburg used to be a “free trade city” and had strong economic significance in Germany. The river right next to the city was the gateway for goods to be brought in and out of the city. Then the river was taken over by the Turkish and trading became impossible, that’s when all the wealth in Regensburg started leaving the city and the city lost its significance. We had a city tour guide showing us around in every city/town we visited, if not, Dr. Feick became the tour guide. Those tours replace the regular lectures in the classroom, they are engaging, fun, and very informative.
Many people probably want to ask about working with the German students there. I would say one of the biggest things I have learned through this trip is German students’ work ethic. I was part of the Continental Group and worked with Felix, Marius, and Jani. Before the site visit, Marius sent us a list of questions we should ask in a document, after the site visit Felix wrote out an outline of how our presentation should be formatted, he came to this conclusion after looking through both the Americans and Germans syllabus. Then, after we finished our slides, Jani added animation and made them more presentable, this includes adding more information and taking away things that are not necessary. While we are working together, they were very serious and concentrated. On the other hand, when we are done they became very approachable and funny. So, what am I saying here? They keep their professional life and personal life separate. They go above and beyond in their works, doing more than they are asked to. They are very organized, always know what they are doing. This really helps them to be better at time management, having quality work, and not getting stressed out by school work. Companies and site visits are not the only things you can learn from, but also the people around you and how they handle things differently.
I really wanted to study abroad, I study abroad, and now I want to do it again. If you ask me what I realized after this trip, I would tell you that now I want to participate in any of the study abroad programs that PittBussines and GBI offer. With that in mind, I can plan ahead of what I want to do for the next three years at Pitt. I originally wanted to go into Finance and Accounting, now I am considering the supply chain and Business Analytics side of the business after this trip. I know for a fact that when I decide what my career path will be and what I truly want to do in the near future, the experience I got from this trip will no doubt be one of the deciding factors. Let me give my gratitude to PittBusiness and the Thomas Angelo Honors Scholarship again, for giving me the opportunity to be part of Plus3 Germany, and made the beginning of my freshmen year summer unforgettable.