The Plus3 Germany trip was everything I thought it would be and more. While I had previously been to Germany, I still learned so much about German culture, and the opportunity to use my German language skills and converse with native speakers was amazing. Not only do I feel like my German improved, but I also am now more excited than ever to keep learning German, because I want to go back and immerse myself in the culture all over again. The fact that I am older than I was on my previous trip also benefited me, since I was more observant and keyed-in to what I was experiencing, which allowed me to get more out of the trip. The blog entries facilitated this, since I was constantly reflecting on what I did and saw. Although the trip was only two weeks, they were two of the busiest weeks of my life, and I feel that almost everything we did was worth doing.
I enjoyed the academic portion much more than I thought I would. I primarily chose the trip because of its location, Germany, and I did not have very much interest in the automotive industry before the trip. The company visits, however, changed that. Seeing these companies up close and personal was totally different than just reading about them, and I thought that the visits were one of the best parts of the trip. Through the visits and subsequent presentations, I gained many insights into how the automotive industry works and where it is going, which, given the industry’s importance to the global economy and daily life, were very valuable. It was also really cool to see the business concepts from my classes, such as supply chains, product and process innovation, and inventory management, in real life. The real life examples we encountered enhanced my understanding of these concepts and will undoubtedly help me to understand more detailed topics as I continue my studies.
Above all, however, it was the people that made the trip so enjoyable. The German and American faculty did a great job of putting the trip together, and they made sure that we got the most out of the two weeks. I am very grateful to have participated in such as well-run program. Also, the German students proved to be one of the highlights, if not the highlight, of the trip. It was a pleasure to work with them on the presentation, and their different style of working was interesting to observe and interact with. Just talking with them also provided a constant stream of cultural insights and comparisons, which allowed me to deepen my understanding of German culture to go along with my improving German language skills. Their willingness to work with us, hang out with us, and talk with us was very appreciated and valued. Without them, I would have felt like an ignorant tourist, there only to see the sights without really learning anything.
Overall, Plus3 Germany provided a rich academic and cultural experience that was neatly compressed into just two weeks. Although I would have loved to stay longer, I feel satisfied with the knowledge I gained and connections I made on the trip, and I would do it all over again if I could. This experience has opened my eyes to the possibilities studying abroad offers, and I am now strongly considering a longer trip abroad later in my college career. The trip also reminded me of how much I love Germany, and I now feel strongly motivated to continue to study German and try to incorporate it into my career path. While it was sad to say goodbye, it excites me to think of the opportunities ahead. Thanks to this program, it is a matter of when, not if, I’ll return to Germany.