It’s hard to even begin to describe how much of an amazing experience this trip was. I came into the trip excited to experience new cultures and to explore Germany. I accomplished both of those expectations and so much more.
My time in Germany has taught me a lot about their way of life. I really like how the Germans treat everything in their society with so much care and planning. Every train and streetcar is exactly on time, the roads and cities are so clean, and there were so many solar panels and wind turbines. I love the German way of life and it was refreshing to be able to live in a society that places that level importance on its people by investing in public transportation and renewable energy.
When I first arrived, I immediately noticed how the German people behaved so much differently than in the US. The German people were so helpful and accomodating to us, and not just the students and staff at Augsburg University. At restaurants, waiters were always very kind. It also felt like people weren’t in as much of a hurry as they are in the US. Everyone seemed more relaxed and patient than in the US, which I liked a lot.
I think this behavior stems from the amount of money the German government invests in its people. While their taxes are a lot higher than in America, they spend that money on making sure that their people as a whole are taken care of, whether that is through infrastructure investments or nearly free education. In addition, there were no Walmarts or large grocery stores. It felt like all of the food was fresh from a local supplier and you could really taste the difference. The German people seem to care a lot about local businesses and healthy, fresh food. I’m really going to miss that mindset back in the US.
In terms of the company visits, I learned so much about the automotive industry. Not only did I get to see some great engineering at work (especially at Audi), but I also gained a lot of knowledge on the business side. I really liked how well rounded the trip felt as it struck a really good balance between engineering and business. I learned a lot of great information that will continue to benefit me throughout my life.
The cultural visits were some of my favorite parts of the trip. The Alps were absolutely stunning. I also enjoyed seeing the various cathedrals in each city. I still can’t believe how long and hard the people of the middle ages had to work in order to build some of those without modern tools. Ulm was the most impressive in my opinion as it took several hundred years to build. Neuschwanstein was very impressive, but it was a very quick tour as the castle wasn’t fully constructed by the time of the king’s death. I loved seeing the rich history, from the Roman ruins scattered around the cities to the massive Neuschwanstein castle.
The best part of the trip however has to be the German students. I made a lot of great friends and it was great to spend two weeks hanging out with them. They were all so friendly and kind to us, which I really appreciated. On top of that, they were some of the funniest people I’ve met. This trip definitely wouldn’t have been the same if we didn’t get to hang out with the German students.
After going on this trip, I am more motivated than ever to study abroad again. I may even consider going for a full semester!