I hate goodbyes. More than I hate waking up early in the morning, which is a lot. Usually I don’t do them, I literally just walk away because I refuse to accept a terminal interaction with someone, but I’ve been changed so much by this program and all the people part of it, that I feel like I owe this last post everything I have.
I signed up for Plus3 because I heard it was a great program and I wanted to learn about manufacturing. I wasn’t really sure what the program entailed but I focused on the academic benefits of it when deciding to enroll. While I learned a lot of technical and business-oriented content, everything I had hoped for, the highlight of my trip were the people, the places, the culture, and the experiences.
The People. By far, this trip was one of the best experiences of my life because of who I spent the two weeks in Germany with. While I loved everyone on the trip, a few people deserve a special shoutout. I’ll start with my roommate and closest friend: Jeff. As Steph mentioned to me once, no one really saw our friendship coming. Within days we were literally brothers, all our differences secondary to the love we felt for each other. He is one of my closest friendships I’ve ever made, and I know he’ll be a part of my life forever. I might have shared best bromance with Jeff, but I shared best couple with Steph. Steph, Alex, Lauren, and I formed a powerful force to which I’m deeply indebted; a group of feisty college kids with a great fashion sense that added a wonderful sassy dynamic. Some people might be a little cautious of skipping up to their program administrator and linking arms with her (without her permission), but not us! This brings me to Arielle and Dr. Feick: the people responsible for this whole trip. I’ve never been closer to faculty and don’t think I’ll develop this close of a relationship with my professors anytime soon. I felt comfortable talking about everything with them (after loud discussions of previous night shenanigans at breakfast that they overheard, was there even a point in hiding anything?). Regardless, they strived to create an environment of comfort, treating us as equals, which made all the difference. I made really close friendships with our lovely neighbors Sahana and Michelle and I’ve kept in contact with them every single day since the trip has ended. Our friendship was a little late to bloom, but it’s one of the strongest I’ll take away. Similarly, I got to know Eamonn, Ryan, and Reid really well and can’t wait to build on our friendships in the upcoming year. The American students will always be very dear to my heart, but the German students were equally important to me. Maxi, Anna, Laura, and Noemi are some of the most amazing people I’ve met. They were unbelievably kind and helpful, often going out of their way to show us around or answer our dumb questions. They made the transition easy and I owe a lot of the fun nights and bad decisions we made to them. We promised to video chat once every month and I plan to hold them to that promise. I already miss them so dearly.
The Places. We came back to Augsburg every night, and I couldn’t have been more grateful for that. At first I was a little skeptical, questioning why we didn’t just move to a new hotel every night. But soon Ibis became a reliable home, and so did Augsburg. I got to know the town well and truly felt comfortable wandering it. I had no issue getting from place to place, and didn’t need to use maps the second week in Augsburg. Besides our base, we visited so many amazing places. From ancient cities with rich histories, to modernized tourist attractions, to amazing nature, everything was perfect. I saw more than everything I could have ever hoped for and truly broadened my scope of what exists in the world and what different places are like.
The Culture. Germany is so unique and has many deep rooted traditions. This often leads to stereotypes given by outsiders, but visiting the people and forming friendships, showed me that a majority of those stereotypes are pretty incorrect. Yes, Germans love their beer: there was beer everywhere for everyone for every occasion. And I can imagine why, German beer is actually really good! But otherwise, Germans are incredibly considerate people; they’re nice and polite, direct but not to be rude – rather honest, and they’re so aware of the world around them. If I had to describe German culture in a single word I would say: genuine. All the people we met were genuine in their intents, actions, and words.
The Experiences. Thousands of Moments. I’ve tried to recap some of my experiences in the past 13 blog posts, but even if I had a hundred pages, I couldn’t describe everything I’ve felt and been through in the past 2 weeks. From coming home after a company visit and jumping into bed with Jeff, full suits on and everything so whew could take a quick nap, to staying up and out eating too much ice cream and way later than we should, all the pieces fit perfectly to give me one of the best times of my life.
This program was the best way to learn about manufacturing, business, Germany, and most, most importantly – to learn about myself. I’ve grown so much in just two weeks, it really takes a serious moment of reflection to realize how incredible this opportunity was. I wouldn’t change a single thing about the trip – even the waking up early – because this experience is a pristine moment of my life that I’m going to treasure forever. Thanks for being part of this journey with me, and while I can’t put a date and time to our next interaction, I can’t wait to see you again, one day! Farewell! 🙂