Now that I have been back in the United States for a few days, I have integrated myself back into my summer schedule. I remember a graph that we were shown in the pre-trip classes of the possible culture shock we would experience during and after the trip. Dr. Feick even mentioned that we would experience “reverse culture shock” when we got back to the US. These past few days gave me first hand insight into that phenomenon. I found myself saying very often, “Well in Germany, they do it this way.” My favorite tid-bit of information to tell people is about the traffic lights and how they flash yellow-red at the same time to tell drivers to “start your engines.”
It also took some time to get used to the different means of transportation in the US. In Augsburg, I had finally got comfortable jumping aboard the streetcars and finding my way around town. After all our exciting run-ins with trains, I felt much better about riding those as well. It was a change to have to hop in a car every time I wanted to go somewhere after I got back home.
Another thing that I couldn’t stop thinking about after the presentations and after the trip was how well connected all the company visits were. It seemed like nearly every factory tour had some sort of Kuka robot. The lower tier producers like H&K and SGL sold their parts to Continental and BMW. BMW then sold their cars, made with the other companies’ parts, to consumers. It was an excellent opportunity to see the supply chain of a car from beginning to end. This was very apparent in the presentations, where information often overlapped, and the big picture appeared.
The trip exceeded all my expectations. Here’s a list of a few of the simple things I learned on the trip: I learned that sometimes it pays off to be adventurous with trying new foods. I learned that I need to pack more clothes if I don’t want to have to rewear my entire wardrobe. I learned that through a lot of arm waving and pointing, I can manage to order fries through the language barrier. But most of all I learned that immersing myself in a new culture can open up a new world of viewpoints that I will now carry with me for the rest of my life.