Phoebe Katz, May 20 and June 4th
On the final day of the trip, I finally tried the hotel waffles. I ate them with bacon and it was delicious. On the way to the airport I listened to the new Harry Styles album (I loved every second. Matilda is a work of art. He is a genius). I took the bus to the Munich airport with everybody else but I did not have a flight like the other students. Instead, I took the subway into the city to meet up with two of my friends from high school. The three of us began a three week journey around Europe. It is now June 4th and I am finishing my Germany blogs while on a train from Amsterdam to Berlin.
This whole experience has been fantastic. I have done a fair amount of international group travel in the past and so my expectations for this trip were not incredibly high. I have found, on previous trips, that I do not enjoy having my days planned for me or my cultural experiences hand selected by adults with different attention spans and interests than me. That said, this trip was very good. The restaurants selected by the program had great food, the company visits were informative and the selection of companies provided a wide picture of the automotive supply chain. Many days were overfull with activities, which was unpleasant on occasion. But I did learn a lot about both Germany and the complicated nature of the car industry. I had no concept of just how many machines and steps there are to the process of building a car. Specifically, our trip to the Hoerbiger factory was eye-opening in that regard. As an engineer, it was a big adjustment to stop looking at the technology a company produces and instead examine its business competition and suppliers and position in the market. Although none of that is my primary interest and I was hoping to learn more about how cars actually work, I am ultimately glad that much of the academic focus of the trip was outside of my comfort zone.
Throughout all the traveling I’ve done since Plus3 ended, I have not had the opportunity to really understand the history and culture of the places I have visited in the same way I did Augsburg and Bavaria. Learning about Jakob Fugger, for example, before even arriving in Augsburg, helped me to better understand the place. I also made friends with a great group of people, which I did not expect going into this program. Exploring a new country was made all the better because I was with wonderful people. Finally, working with my team to develop a presentation on Webasto was a learning experience because many of my group members were still working on their English language skills and I was not able to speak their languages (My group was made up of people from Turkey and France, in addition to Germany.). This was challenging because it was difficult to communicate with them and as a person who talks very fast, I had to learn to slow down and be patient so that we could all be successful.
Ultimately, I am very glad that I decided to apply to this program and I am very grateful for all that I have learned and all of the friends I’ve made.