There is so much to be said about experiences that change the way you think, behave, and view the world around you. With Plus3 Germany, I genuinely discovered more about how to grow as a student and as a human more than I ever anticipated. I cannot speak for James, but I know that I personally went into this experience expecting it to be identical to my last study abroad. I anticipated it would be company tours mixed in with doing some tourist things, which gives you some nice photos to post and then stories to brag about with the companies you went to. Germany was far from this experience and it shaped me more as a person than I expected.
From the first day we met the other German students, we all said how amazing it was to actually be working with the students in the country we were in. This feeling not only grew as our project continued but as we got to learn more about them as well. The people you are around can shape any experience in different ways. I’m grateful both the German and American students were so positive and enjoyable that every experience I made in Germany was positive because of it. I have always appreciated the friends I have at school, but I never fully appreciated people; how important and impactful it is to just get to know, have conversations with, and embrace the presence of people around you.
Two stories from the trip that ties in strongly with how people impacted my trip came from our day in Salzburg and the various nights of Pool City. When we were in Salzburg on top of the Fortress, there was a point where we were taking photos as a group in front of the view. I’m not even sure how this happened, but when I looked over some of our group members were taking pictures with tourists we didn’t even know. At first, it just felt silly, but then we all started to get in the photos and one of the women was kicking people out of the frame (people they didn’t know either). Even though we had never met them or could even communicate in the same language, there was still a bond we were able to make with these other tourists through a mutual connection of enjoying our surroundings and having fun. The other story that ties into my favorite memories of the people come from our unspoken tradition to go to Pool City different nights where we had all-cards-on-the-table type conversations every night. No topics were off limits and nothing left our booth, but every night we were there we could sit as a group and talk about our lives and stories we wanted to share. It was somehow the most wholesome experience of the trip. We had only known these people for a few days or a week and we trusted each other with some of the most serious stories about ourselves. I left every night with a new story and perspective about someone’s life I had never known. We even brought the German students one night who had their doubts on how enjoyable it would be, but they joined in for sharing their stories as well. Although this was not necessarily a “Germany specific experience”, I think my new appreciation for others and learning about those around me was the most impactful lessons I gained from the trip.
Aside from my experiences that grew me as a person, there was so much from the program that helped me grow as a student as well. Being able to work with the German students was incredibly useful as a business student. Going into the future, I feel confident in being able to understand how countries around the world do business differently and being able to adapt to a global situation. I left the program with understanding and knowledge of an industry I went in knowing nothing about. Although I am nowhere near as much of a “car guy” as Frank or Lucas, the program really helped me understand the business behind the automotive industry. The megatrends don’t just influence the end producers, but everyone along the supply chain as well. Going back to school in the fall, I feel really confident in my studies. I was so fascinated by all the aspects of the supply chain and I really enjoy the idea that my future career can be working to optimize and strengthen those supplier and business connections.
Lastly, I think I would be lying in saying the beautiful sites of Germany were amazing as well. It’s saddening to think that I may likely never see these sites again and that I won’t be able to share it with others. Especially with the Alps and the Castle, it’s painful to think I can’t bring this experience to my family at home. With going to the different sites came having to learn to let go and embrace change. With Salzburg especially, it was a very rewarding experience to go in with little to no planning and still having an amazing day, which showed me more about how to be adaptable and willing to go with the flow more.
Overall, I could not be more grateful I was invited to do this program and that it turned out so amazing. There is so much to be gained from meeting new people and living in a different culture that it is hard to sum up in just one blog post. Leaving with new friends, confidence in my studies, and the skills needed to succeed in a global setting, Plus3 Germany was so beneficial to me. Thanks again to all the amazing people involved who made the experience great; I hope that Germany is somewhere I return to again.