Hello, for the last time. I sadly will not be starting with a quick intro about how I loved the breakfast at the hotel I had today, as I am back in the United States. I have to say Plus3 was one of the best experiences I have had, and now that I’m not with the family of 22 that we have formed over the past two weeks, I already miss them. I have learned lots, made lifelong friends, and had a once in a lifetime experience.
The first part of the trip where I gained a lot of insight was going to all the company visits and getting a chance to see what it would be like to really be a part of the automobile industry. As a mechanical engineer, there are many job opportunities for me in the automobile industry and before this trip I did not know too much about what went into car manufacturing and that car companies like Audi, BMW or Toyota were only one step in the manufacturing of a car. I had never even heard of companies like Hirschvogel or SGL Carbon. Without this trip, I would have never been able to get such an inside look at places like Audi’s assembly line, or Continental’s factory where they use robots for a majority of their tasks. I also had the chance to understand how much of the industry is now becoming automated. As we visited each company, we also had the chance to work with the German students.
As we worked with German students, I got a chance to learn about working with people of different backgrounds. In my application, I wrote that I wanted to become a globally aware engineer. Although I had known what that meant, understanding where people come from and acting in a way that would be respectful towards them was quite meaningful. Not only did I learn about what it is like to work with Germans, but how to be more respectful of people from other cultures in general. After this experience, I now understand a little more about their schooling, what it entails, and more about their culture. Some of the stereotypes were correct such as the importance of being on time, but others such as Germans seeming colder than Americans were very much untrue. They were so welcoming and did everything they could to make working together a real pleasure. Getting to meet, work, and spend time with the German students was one of the best parts of the entire trip. By the end of the trip, it was hard to say goodbye to them and I know that if they are ever in the United States or I am ever in Germany again that we will make the effort to see each other again.
The students were one source through which I had the chance to learn about German culture, and the other was the cultural visits to places like Oberammergau, Munich, Regensburg, Ulm and more. With these visits I not only learned but I also saw some of the most beautiful things I had ever seen in my life. When we got to see the Alps from Oberammergau, I said that it was in the top moments of my life and I stick by it. The view from Ulm, or just passing by the canals in Augsburg and walking along the cobblestone streets were all incredible. They were all so beautiful and I am really going to miss being able to see such things on a daily basis. We got to see sites that were constructed such a long time ago, that it is hard to believe they still exist. Especially because we live in such a young country where things are not older than a couple hundred years. The places we visited were filled with so much history and it was unbelievable, but also so interesting to learn what happened so long ago in the places we were now getting a chance to stand in.
But in ending my last blog post, I cannot fail to mention that none of this would have been nearly as impactful or fun if it didn’t happen with the family we created with our two weeks there. When we left for Germany, I barely knew the group only recognizing them from a couple meetings but as we got up and spent each day together, I had the chance to get to know 19 amazing students of course Arielle and Dr. Feick. No matter where we were or what time of day it was, we were always looking out for each other, making sure each and every one of us was okay. We became like siblings, and each day I learned more about the people I was spending day and night with. It felt like I had known everyone for an eternity. Another thing I loved about the group was that we were each so different but got along so well. I don’t think I would have been able to meet a majority of the group if it wasn’t for Plus3 so I will always be grateful to Plus3 for the opportunity to meet such great people and I cannot wait to see everyone on campus again next year.
I cannot express how much lucky I am to have been a part of Plus3 Germany 2019. I will never forget it: the friends, the culture, and the insight. As you can see through the past two weeks, the learning curve was enormous, and I have gained so much through this trip. The only sad part of this trip was how quickly the two weeks flew by. Thank you for staying tuned and keeping up with my journey. I want to send so much love to my fellow Plus3 Germany students. Stay in touch, Augsgang! Let’s meet up for lots of doñer sandwiches, and so much more exploring!