Germany, You Have My Heart

When I heard past students talk about Plus 3, they talk about how amazing the trip was, how great the Augsburg students were, and how much they loved the city, but somehow, it doesn’t do it justice.  This trip has given me more memories in two weeks than entire summers in Pittsburgh.  I would not trade anything for any day in Augsburg.  We all had our ups and downs on the trip.  I had some emotional times adjusting, but that’s how you know you’re fully immersing yourself in the experience.  

Someone pointed this out and I thought it was funny.  On our first flight into Charlotte, we barely knew each other’s names.  Now I know everyone’s major, their favorite teacher, summer plans, fall classes, everything.  I really grew close to people I would’ve never imagined.  I originally thought of this as a program to build my resume and let me explore a foreign country, but it taught me much more.  It taught me that I really need to know more about the language before traveling.  But even more important, it taught me that anything and anywhere is fun with the right people.  No matter how intimidating or exhausting, having an amazing group of people there to experience it with you is the most important thing.  

I feel like I should also mention the curriculum thought considering this was a school trip.  I learned that the automotive industry is way more complex and competitive than I thought.  The automotive industry is seeing big social and environmental trends that will forever affect the industry, not to be dramatic or anything.  After having very candid conversations with the companies that we worked with, some are investing for the future, some are stuck, and some are playing for the last man standing spot.  Outside the very daunting conversations about the future, the factories was amazing.  I never knew so much went into building a car, especially with so many suppliers.  Brands and parts I’ve never heard of.  Going to companies and getting a first hand view of what they do, made speaking about them during presentations so much easier.  

The program as a whole has a good mix of educational tours and cultural tours.  In every tourist shop, I saw postcards with famous sites.  Now I can say that I’ve been there and know the history of the site.  My favorite part was thinking about how almost every place we visited was established before the United States became the United States.  In addition, it was crazy to think about how a lot of my surroundings had to be rebuilt after World War 2.  Germany did a very impressive job of creating new buildings that blended in with older ones.

I could not be more thankful for our program coordinators who planned this entire trip.  Our schedule as to where we would go and what we would do what not a given like in other years.  Since COVID, there were a lot of changes to adjust to.  Dr. Feick and Stephanie Spirk had no problem handling the challenge.  I could not have asked for better leaders.  Dr. Feick is so passionate about Germany and he makes you want to learn.  He offers amazing insight into how to connect and talk with companies.  Stephanie responded to my millions of emails without hesitation and made sure we knew everything we were responsible for.   They saw our wild, rambunctious group and embraced us. I cannot say thank you enough to these two individuals who made my trip so amazing. 

Even though my Germany Plus 3 trip is officially over, this is not the last you will be hearing from me.  I plan on going abroad again before I graduate in 2025.  I cannot put into words how much this trip has meant to me.  These memories will stick with me forever.  

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