It’s been several days since I arrived back in the U.S. I kept putting off writing this last post because I felt that if I wrote it, it would assert such a degree of finality that I was not prepared to handle. I missed Germany, I missed the group, and I missed the adrenaline rush of those new, enriching experiences.
I settled into life at home, unpacked, and started on my summer job, tasks that felt pretty mundane after two weeks of constant excitement. The abrupt juxtaposition has harbored a great deal of reflection on what those two weeks have done for me, both professionally and personally.
I got to experience the industrial aspects of Germany, and witness German engineering first-hand. Viewing the country through this technical lens has broadened by appreciation for Germany and its role in engineering worldwide. It has also strengthened my determination to continue with my German studies and keep developing my communication skills so that English will not always be the default language in any future professional communication I may have.
I also connected with so many people and came home with a few new friends added to my circle. It’s amazing what two weeks in a foreign environment can do to a group of people that hardly know each other. We explored our surroundings together, kept each other safe, and discovered cultural differences together. In fact, we bonded so cohesively that I even noticed cultural differences among the Americans themselves.
The brains of engineers and business students work in totally different ways. The mentality is different. The priorities are different. The outlook on the world is different. An example to illustrate this happened before our first company visit. The engineers were bringing along their backpacks, while the business students were not. As Josh jokingly commented, “The business students are like, ‘I gotta look my best!’ and the engineers are like, ‘I gotta be prepared!’” I feel like this experience has gotten me out of my engineering-bubble and forced me to interact with people of a different discipline, to my benefit.
Sometimes, we didn’t agree, but at the end of the day, we need each other to combine our skills and work together to get our jobs done. This goes for everyone from every cultural and professional group around the world. If this trip has taught me anything, it is that better results are achieved through cooperation and open-mindedness.
So I finally forced myself to sit down and get these last thoughts out of the way so I could stop worrying about them. That was when I realized that the end of this program is by no means an absolute end, but the conclusion of the first chapter in a new era of my professional life. One that hopefully (Fingers crossed!) will involve Germany. I fully intend to go back.
I’m 226,575 steps farther down the path I want to be on.