During high school, I never would have thought that I would be doing a study abroad during my freshman year of college. I had never truly traveled outside of the country before this trip and, even though I wanted to, was nervous to go far abroad. So when I learned of the Plus3 trip, I knew I should do it. I’m a believer in going outside of your comfort zone to gain experiences. And this trip did exactly that. I have learned so much and my view about going abroad has changed. When correctly prepared, I am not longer scared to travel anywhere. I would also love to come back to Germany. It is so clean and seems to be much less stressful than the US.
If I ever come back, I much prefer the non-touristy areas compared to the touristy ones. I love how genuine the German culture is. It’s so simple but very social and direct. You really get to experience this when you go to places that are not flooded with tourists diluting the true culture. I don’t mean to talk badly about tourists, I am also a tourist but I love to see the truer areas. For example, the traditional Bavarian breakfast and the atmosphere inside of that building was amazing to me. I also really love working directly with the German students. But personally I was not a huge fan of doing things like visiting the Neuschwanstein castle simply because of how touristy it was. However, it is still something that should be done because it is significant history of Germany and an amazing view.
I mentioned how great it was to work with the German students. I’ve thought a lot about what my favorite thing was on this trip and my conclusion is that being able to work and socialize with them was my favorite. To me, it is the most important thing that the Plus3 trip offers. It really allows you to experience a true culture dive. Especially when you have one hour to make a presentation with people from across the country that you just met. I quickly learned how direct and social the German students were within my group and I loved that. It was surprising to me that we also shared the same humor and were able to joke with each other. We’re really not too different at all. It also allowed us to build long-lasting relationships. I know that at least one German student will be coming to the United States and visiting Pittsburgh where we can show him around, just like he did for us in Germany. It’s great to have that connection and I love that plus3 has given us that opportunity.
Another thing that I liked about the trip were the company visits. One of the reasons I chose Germany was because of how great their manufacturing techniques are. Each company visit only proved that to me more. Seeing the automated assembly lines at Audi and the self-driving material transportation vehicles at Continental, I knew that I chose the right Plus3 trip. I learned a lot about what I would want to do in my future and am very interested in going into manufacturing operations. This trip helped me realize that Industrial Engineering is the right choice of study and it made me excited to go into the field and start working soon. I can’t wait to look at these assembly lines and optimize them to make them as efficient as possible. Maybe I can even learn German and get a job in Germany!
I can honestly say that this was one of the best experiences of my life. I would not trade it for anything. The places I saw, the people I met, and the lessons I learned are all so valuable. I want to say thank you to Arielle and Dr. Feick for this amazing trip. They did a great job leading us and taking us on adventures.
Finally my advice to any Freshman checking out this program: Do it. You will not regret it. And when you get to Germany, look and listen to everything. Take in all of your surroundings, socialize among the group and the German students, and learn from the company visits. This trip opens up so many opportunities that you should not be afraid to take advantage of. I wish I could do it all again!