I cannot believe it has already been two weeks since the end of Plus3 Germany! It is difficult to summarize the entire trip in one blog, but I am going to try my best. The Plus3 program was definitely one of the best two weeks of my life. I learned so much, met so many amazing people, and made memories I will have forever, all in a brief two-week time period.
Thinking back to the first day we were all together seems like a lifetime ago. We barely knew each other as we played mafia and explored the airport together. Within the first day, however, I already felt closer to everyone, and we quickly became a family over the next two weeks. The nineteen other Pitt students truly made this trip amazing. Some of my favorite memories are from times when we were all hanging out, talking and laughing about funny moments and inside jokes. I am so glad to have gotten to know everyone on the trip so well. In the beginning, I think everyone thought that there would be at least a slight divide between the engineering and business students because the two groups are pretty different, but we could not have been more wrong. Even when we tried to split up in Munich to keep the groups small, all twenty of us ended up eating lunch together. That really shows how well our entire group gets along, and I am happy to be a part of it. I know that I will keep in touch with everyone, and I am excited to see everybody in the fall at Pitt!
My biggest takeaway of the trip came from all the company visits. I did not have much knowledge on the automotive industry before going to Germany, but I have learned so much through all the lectures, tours, and presentations. It was amazing seeing the forging process at Hirschvogel, robots at Continental, and of course, the entire car production process at Audi. Now, I have a much better understanding of the automotive industry and what its future holds, with the electrification trends in particular. The technical aspects of engineering are not my biggest strength, as I am a bioengineering major, but after all the company visits and truly seeing the different processes in the automotive industry, I think I want to pursue a mechanical engineering minor. All the company tours were so interesting to me, and I want to be more knowledgeable in the mechanical engineering department. Nonetheless, this trip showed me that engineering is the right path for me, and I am excited for my future engineering classes!
Without a doubt, my favorite part of the entire trip was working with the German students and truly getting to know them. I knew that I would be working with two or three of the German students in my group for the company presentations, but I did not really expect to become good friends with them. I was very wrong about that, and I am glad that I was. The German students in my group (Noemi, Laura, and Alicia) are three of the nicest people I have ever met, and I am so happy to be able to call them my friends. I was surprised to discover that although German culture is different from ours, we were able to work effectively and productively as a team without many issues. All of the German students were amazing and took time out of their busy schedules to hang out with us outside of working on our presentations. They gave us restaurant recommendations (and translated menus) and showed us around Augsburg. Without them, our experience in Augsburg would not have been nearly as great as it was, so I am very grateful for them. I had opportunities to get to know all of the students, not just the girls in my group, so it was difficult saying goodbye to everyone, but I know that we will keep in touch.
I also have to reflect on all the cultural visits we had throughout the trip because I got to see many amazing places. I want to thank Dr. Feick, Arielle, Sonja, and Marius for planning the trip so well and making arrangements to ensure we had the complete German experience. From the views at Oberammergau and Neuschwanstein to the classic European cities of Munich and Ulm and the painful history of Dachau, every place we visited was special and made me more aware of the German culture. The visits also showed me that there are so many beautiful places in the world that I have yet to see, and I am so excited to travel in the future, especially since I am now more confident in my ability to be independent in a foreign environment. There were times when I was outside of my comfort zone, when I had to be adventurous with food, and when I had to make last-minute changes to plans, but all these challenges helped me grow as an individual. My leadership and communication skills are stronger as a result, and I am also more resilient when things do not go according to plan. My time in Germany taught me so many valuable life skills that I never would have learned in a classroom.
I have always wanted to study abroad, and the Plus3 program exceeded my expectations by far. I could not have wished for a better experience, and I am so grateful to have had this amazing opportunity. For anyone considering Plus3, I one hundred percent recommend applying, as you will not regret it. The Plus3 program was just two short weeks, but I know that the memories and friendships I have made will last a lifetime.
To end this final blog, I wanted to share a few of my favorite photos from the trip:
Until next time, Germany!