When I first heard about Plus3, I was interested, but a little hesitant because I wasn’t sure how much I would be able to get out of a program that was only two weeks long. I decided to go for it anyways, since it might give me insight into what it might be like to study abroad for a longer period of time, but without the commitment of a semester.
In case you can’t tell from my previous blogs, boy was I wrong. Although our schedule was usually pretty tight to make sure we could do as much as possible, I was definitely able to get a lot out of and learn a lot through this program.
In addition to the things we learned in lecture in Pittsburgh, about German history and the automotive industry, on the actual trip I learned about all sorts of cool technical processes like forging and carbon fiber spinning, and what kinds of things companies like Audi and SGL do in terms of research and development. Honestly, before the trip I was worried I wouldn’t enjoy the company visits, but they ended up being some of the highlights of the trip. The tours also helped me consider my future as a mechanical engineer, and how research and development for companies like SGL might be something that I would be interested in.
That’s not to say that I didn’t learn anything from the cultural visits, especially ones I could connect back to lectures from my high school German class or my architecture class, like the tours of Regensburg and Munich, or the ones that made me reflect on not only German history but also American history, as Dachau did.
Through working with the German students, I learned how easy it is to connect with people my age no matter where they’re from, and how to work together with people not only outside my major, but also outside my culture. Being able to contribute to teamwork in a fast-paced environment not unlike the one we were put in will certainly be a valuable skill both in my future as a student but also as a professional.
In the past I might have hesitated applying for a program where I would be in a far-away place with people I barely know, but I pushed myself out there in order to strengthen my people skills and make new friends, and I’m so glad I did. Plus, although it was nerve-wracking, I’m glad I was able to practice my public speaking skills a few times in this course, at least more than I got the chance to throughout my whole freshman year at college.
And honestly, although I was afraid of the commitment of a semester abroad, after the taste of the study abroad experience I got through Plus3, I would much more confidently consider a full semester abroad.
Thank you to Dr. Feick, Arielle, Sonja, and Marius for working hard to make this trip possible, thank you to all the German students for being more welcoming than I could have imagined, and thank you to the nineteen other Pitt students on the trip for being the greatest companions on one of the most incredible trips of my life.