It is hard to put into words what the trip meant to me, largely because it is all a big jumble of emotions and it is impossible to know how the experience will have benefited me until it actually benefits me. Keeping that in mind, here are a few things I learned. I learned what it is like to meet someone who grew up in another country with a different native language and to work with them and even become their friend. I learned how to connect with people very different from me who go to my school. I tasted just how good German food is! I saw a new way of life, a way not bound by our structures and traditions but by its own; a bit more rigid in some ways and a bit looser in others. I saw people lounging in the town square as the sun set, drinking their beer and listening to their music. I saw people sitting at a crosswalk by an empty road, just waiting for the light to turn green. I found myself in places that looked like postcards, and then bought the postcard of the place. I saw factories driven by machines and run by humans trying to compete and innovate in the global marketplace. I heard speakers passionately display their willingness to adapt and innovate. I witnessed great pride in accomplishment. I saw a willingness to work hard and with purpose. I went from skeptical and tired to emotive and alert. I made friends I will keep. I made friends I will not be able to keep. I listened and danced to music, new and old, with people I had known for a week, and had more fun there than I have had with people I knew for years. I think what I learned and remember from the trip will evolve with time, but I know one thing: I couldn’t forget it.

Leave a Reply