And just like that, we’re back home. It’s crazy how fast time goes by. For starters, we all made it back home thankfully, but we had the farthest thing from a seamless experience at the German airport, I don’t think they like Americans very much. I’ve never gotten pat-down and searched in my life but hey, there’s a first time for everything right? After getting our passports checked about 20 times, we finally made it on the bus to the plane. I thought that we would be sitting at the airport for some time but that was not the case, we in fact had just enough time because of all the checkpoints we had to go through. A positive side of the travel experience was the flight didn’t feel like 10 hours at all. The first like 7 hours went by pretty quickly and then it was only the last few that seemed to drag on. Customs was also pretty easy, I think I got lucky both times I went through customs because I got pretty nice agents. Saying our final goodbyes was kind of sad, considering you spent the entirety of the last two weeks with the same people all day long.
Nonetheless, the 10-hour flight home and the 2-hour flight back to JFK allowed me time to think about our trip. This was my first experience abroad, aside from just family vacations. With this trip, I was really able to dive deep into the culture and learn to appreciate how other people live in our parts of the world. Though two weeks was nearly not enough time, I learned that this was something I would love to do for a semester. The German people were all fantastic, literally no matter where we went, we were treated great, even though it was very clear that we were Americans. It’s not always like that in other countries, but I felt very welcome in Germany. There are definitely some things that I will miss about Germany, the pretzels, the traditional style architecture, the culture, the people, the small little towns we would visit, and most importantly, my dear Spezi. I remember learning about Spezi in one of our Sunday sessions and thinking it was kind of a weird mix of sodas, but it turned out to be something I drank at every meal that I could. Germany just felt like a completely different world compared to the US, everywhere we went was so beautiful and clean, and it was like everywhere was an attraction for me.
This trip was jam-packed, which was quite overwhelming at times but looking back, I am so grateful for those jam-packed days. I learned so much from the company visits that were mixed in with the cultural visits. The information that I learned from every single one of the company visits was invaluable. Going into this trip, I didn’t really have much background about the automobile industry at all, and after the trip, I feel like I could confidently have a conversation with someone about the automobile industry and where it is heading in the future when it comes to carbon neutrality. This was one of my goals, to really dive into the industry and the numerous company visits and talks that we had made me confident in my achievement of these goals.
Another one of my goals was to be more outspoken and to voice my opinions more when it comes to group projects, and I definitely feel like I was forced to achieve this goal, but in a good way. That first presentation that we had an hour and a half to prepare really made me break out of my shell, I had to speak up and pitch in rather quickly because of the short timeline. I think it also took some extra communication when it came to our final presentation because the German students had a traditional way they create presentations compared to us, and we had to hash out a few inconsistencies when it came to our final slide deck. Overall, I think I communicated a lot more than I would usually do in a group project because of the urgent need for communication and the quick turnaround. In the end, I was quite pleased with our final deliverable.
One thing I think I didn’t expect from the trip was how close I was actually going to get with all of my classmates. I can be quite shy at first, but that ended rather quickly. It was like we were forced to be friends with each other because of how much time we spent together. But I’m so so glad that this was the case because I made some of the best friends on this trip. I genuinely enjoyed those long days and fun nights with the most amazing people and it was just like we instantly clicked and just became comfortable with each other. This group of people was one of my favorite things I got out of plus3, and I would do this trip with them again in a heartbeat.
Plus3 was one of those programs that I just kept running into during my freshman year and at a certain point, I thought I might as well just go ahead and apply because there must be a reason that I keep seeing it literally everywhere I go. And I must say, if there was anything that I did right this year, it was applying to this program. I have no regrets and it was truly the highlight of my freshman year. If you’re contemplating doing this program, my advice is to absolutely go for it. Trust me, you will be jet-lagged and you will be tired for two weeks straight, but you will have the best adventures and meet the most amazing people.
Lastly, I would like to thank everyone that made this program happen, Dr. Feick, Stephanie, Mr. Moslen, Korbinian, and Maxi for an amazing experience. As for me, that’s all I got for plus3 Germany, and I cannot wait to study abroad at Pitt again. Hail to Germany and as always, Hail to Pitt.
A Spezi missing Sydney