Day 13 – I hate goodbyes. (May 20th & Reflection Post)

We got up at 5 in the morning and took a bus to the Munich airport. There, we said goodbye to Steph, Dr. Feick, Phoebe, and Gabi, who would be staying in Europe and visiting other places. The rest of us checked our bags in boarded our flight to Charlotte. It honestly didn’t feel as long as we expected. I watched a couple shows and then we were back in the US. We had to go through security again and we all ate Shake Shack as a commemorative lunch for our return to the US. Honestly though, the burger and fries were really small and not very good, but I was glad to be back.

After we ate, the remaining people split off to their respective destinations. Our flight to Philly was short and uneventful and then we touched down, grabbed our bags, and returned home.

This trip was been beyond amazing. I can’t describe how much fun I had. I made some amazing memories and I met some even more amazing people.

I’ve been back for about a week now. My sleep schedule was messed up for a lot of that. I was going to bed at 7 and waking up at 4.

The one thing that I knew I wanted to do in this reflection even before the trip was to look at my original application. Namely, the one question that asked “What goals do you intend to achieve while studying abroad and how will you achieve them?”.

My response was composed of three main parts. The first one dealt with culture. I can say with confidence I learned so much about Germany. It’s a weird feeling to come back to the US and not have to say “Danke schoen” to every person. From all the cultural places like Oberammergau, Neuschwanstein, Ulmer Muenster, and Dachau I learned what makes up Germany’s unique identity. . And from the people I learned, they’re really not that different. As much as language barrier was an issue, I always felt like I could talk and connect. And I never felt like there was something that could stop that from happening.

The second portion talked about the academic side. From company visits I learned how it operates on a global scale and how many of its companies view the world’s future. I learned how company’s ideate and develop new technologies and how they’re learning to transition to the future. Honestly, before this trip I never talked about topics such as e-mobility and autonomous driving. But now, I’ve learned them to such a degree I could honestly spend hours talking about it. This program has definitely given me insight into the industry and has taught me many things that I will remember for the rest of my life.

And lastly, I talked about the relationships I would develop with other people. And this one, with certainty, has happened. Before the trip, we were all a group of strangers. We had barely talked, didn’t know each other’s names, and just all happened to be in the same random program to another country. After a week in the blender, being thrown together randomly has led to a lot of conversing and getting to know each other. From the scavenger hunt, to the presentations, to just sitting around and talking with each other we all grew closer together. Now, I can say I consider them all my friends. Even now in Pittsburgh, even though Germany is 4000-some odd miles away, the people I went with will only be a few minutes away. I hope that everyone stays in contact and that we continue to be just as close as we were on the trip.

One thing’s for certain. I’m not done with Germany. And I’m not done traveling either. If anything, this has motivated me to continue to go. I hope over the next couple years I can keep going all over the world and experiencing new cultures. This trip has really shown me that everywhere has something to teach you. Whether it’s learning improvisation because the train’s always late, or talking in broken German to random people, there’s an experience you have never had before and might never if you don’t go.

Thanks to Stephanie, Korbinian, Dr. Feick, and Dr. Paul for organizing the entire trip. Augsburg and Pitt have such a great connection and I’m glad to have been a part of it. Thanks to Maxi, Nico, and all the other students that we met on our program. You guys are what made it truly special and helped us to get an insight into what it’s like to live like a German. Lastly, thanks to the Plus3 gang for making this trip unique. Without all of you the trip would not have been the same and I hope you guys all catch up with me sometime.

And, that’s all. Thanks for taking the time to read this and I guess I’m signing off for now. Thanks for reading and off to the next adventure!

-Jerry Peng (5/28/22)

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