“Memories, even your most precious ones, fade surprisingly quickly. But I don’t go along with that. The memories I value most, I don’t ever see them fading” (Kazuo Ishiguro).
While writing these blogs, I had moments where I was unable to continue typing a story because I was laughing too hard at the memories and I had moments that made me extremely miss being in Germany. I will treasure the memories of my time in Germany and the people I got to share this experience with. I think what made this trip the most memorable for me was meeting all the people who also embarked on the journey. There is something special about being able to recount memories with someone else who experienced it with you. I didn’t really know anyone else going on this trip, but I think that’s the perfect way to study abroad because it is only an opportunity to make more friends. I had the chance become friends with many diverse people and share an amazing journey in Germany.
Most of my friends are engineers- I essentially live in Benedum (the engineering building), am a part of an engineering sorority, and will be living in the engineering Living Learning Community next year. This trip has given me the opportunity to work with engineering and business students which taught me that collaboration between these groups is essential for a company. Some of the most successful companies we toured demonstrated this principle, while the struggling companies lacked this connection. For example, H&K has been using mostly the same techniques for injection molding since the company was founded. During the final presentation, the group assigned to H&K discussed that they did not think the company would exist for much longer because of the company’s lack of innovation. That being said, even successful companies are motivated by what is profitable, not necessarily what is the most beneficial to society. For example, a company might not innovate towards using less natural resources and becoming more sustainable if it costs more or is less profitable. Additionally, at KUKA most research is related closely to what currently exists on the market. When I asked about how KUKA innovates during the tour, the presenter responded with an explanation about how if a group wants to invest in a large project, a side company could be formed. This seemed like an intense and long process to do something that I believe should be simple. This trip has challenged my view of the role of an engineer in a company and what kind of job I see myself doing in the future.
At this point, I have been back from Germany for almost 2.5 weeks. One thing I realized about being home is how much different everything was in Germany. For starters, water is not free when you go to a restaurant like it is in America. Something else I found odd was that I was able to fill my water bottle up in the bathroom because the tap water was clean, but I found this too gross to try for myself. The food in Germany was a shock at first for me because I bias towards plain food and often order dishes without certain ingredients. However, I was unable to do this because I knew no German and was unable to efficiently communicate with the waiters. Towards the end of the trip, I learned some basic German to help me order food I was more likely to enjoy, such as the perfect döner with only meat, lettuce, and tomato. Going into this trip, I thought that the culture would be similar- it would be like going to a new city in America. Looking back on the trip, the experience was far from what I expected, and I couldn’t be happier about it.
If I had some advice for a future student, it would be to pack light, but bring what you think you will need. If you end up without something you need, just laugh it off because it will enrich the memory even more. For example, I got dinner with friends one night at a rooftop beach restaurant. This beach had sand and I did not have sandals. I am still pouring sand out of my shoes that I wore, but it makes me laugh because of what I remember about that night. My last piece of advice would be to take pictures of each moment that makes you happy. A picture can help you to remember a conversation you had that made you laugh or some event that you never want to forget.
This experience has been remarkable. I would like to thank Dr. Feick, Arielle, Sonja, Simon, Sandra, Melanie, Stefanie, and everyone who made this trip extraordinary and memorable.
Motivated by my experience in Germany, I have spent hours searching for another study abroad program to participate in. I highly enjoyed my time abroad and look forward to my next opportunity.
Dog Counter: I have seen 228 dogs this entire trip!
Low of the Trip:
As cliché as it sounds, the worst moment of this trip was when it ended. And maybe having to pay for water because that was uncool.
High of the Trip:
The memory that never fails to make me smile is the morning we had a traditional Bavarian breakfast. Josh, Grant, Liv, and I sat at our own table laughing at some of the occurrences from the previous day. This was the moment that I realized just how much I enjoyed my time in Germany and how grateful I am for the people I got to share this experience with.