Going to Germany this summer was an amazing experience and I am super happy to have been apart of the group. Getting the opportunity to live in a different country for 6 weeks was quite interesting. It was difficult at first to get a feel for the culture and for how Germans do things but after about a week or two, I felt comfortable doing things on my own. We had class for the first 5 weeks in Berlin. We studied statics and dynamics in the mornings and a german language and culture class in the afternoon. The classes went very well, I never felt stressed out and the material was very fun to learn. In the afternoons we would get food, go grocery shopping, and experience the german culture. I never felt bogged down with homework, which was very nice. The two hardest parts of the trip were definitely not having air conditioning and not having access to kitchen appliances (other than a microwave). This summer was very hot and there was very little rain to cool things off. When we were blessed with a cool night, it was extremely relaxing to lay in bed under the covers and enjoy the cool weather. It was crazy how after spending so much time in Berlin, it started to feel like home. The last week in Europe, I traveled to Croatia with my friends and enjoyed the nature of Europe. There are some very pretty lakes and beaches that I would recommend going to. Since Croatias official language is Croatian, it was surprisingly comforting to hear people speak german, even though it’s not my first language, because I felt like I could at least understand a little bit of what they were saying. I am very grateful for everything I was able to experience and I am blessed to have made it back home without any injuries or misfortunes.
As I sit alone in the Detroit airport tonight waiting for my connecting flight home, I reflect over the last six weeks of my travels and life in Europe. Continue reading “Final Reflection/Elevator Speech”
“How was Germany?”
Germany was great! We spent a week at Calvin before going to Germany. We were all very sad to hear that Professor De Rooy was unable to make the journey when we set off from Calvin. We then spent five weeks studying Statics and dynamics. We would spend the weekdays studying and the weekends traveling around Germany. Every weekend we went to a different place although our main base and place of study was Berlin. Continue reading “Course Assignment #8: elevator speech”
When someone asks me “so how was your trip to Germany?” I would say something like “uh… it was good” (ha ha) and then continue with a quick summary of this eye-opening and exciting trip…
So you want to know what I did over the summer??? Well, let me tell you…. Continue reading “Elevator Speech”
When someone asks me, “How was Germany?” I am going to have so much to say, I don’t even know where I’ll start. But I’ll still do my best to sum it up as quick as I can. Continue reading “Elevator Speech”
Living in another country for the first time, I am not sure that I can describe it easily. Germany is very westernized, so the differences are not large. However, like the princess and the pea, the small differences were enough to throw me out of balance a bit. The hardest part is being around a language that is foreign to you. I can only image now how those feel who come to the US without knowing a lick of English. The whole world of interaction is nearly shut off. Thankfully here in Germany, many speak English, but not all. The other large difference is just how the people act. The slight differences add up in our cultures, so the people seem to be very different in a nearly indescribable way. I have definitely experienced the stereotypical cold German attitude, but I have also met some Germans who are happy and ready to speak and interact. They just expect different things out of interactions than are normally expected in the US. They seem to want a lot of information out of people, but is seems people in the US assume more – or just ask less questions. It also seems like there is more of a rush here. Everything is quick and efficient. In the South and even in Michigan, you can take time to ask a question to a clerk or just not rush. They may just have a culture of stress and working. Many people smoke and drink high caffeine drinks, which I believe points to their productive mentality. Another difference is customer service. Since they are not on a tip system, the waiters do not act as kindly and do not listen as well as they do in the US. This could just be the fact that we were in large groups though.
Another culture shock is the lack of clear Christianity in Germany. People appear to have less restraint when it comes to alcohol, sex, and other vices. It seems as if the ban on Christianity in the Soviet east and the more liberal influences of Europe have changed the culture of Germany away from the former Holy Roman Empire to a secular state. You can tell these differences in advertising and media. As a person from the South, the main shock was the open sexuality. Advertisements left nothing to the imagination, and there are sex shops and cinemas that openly display items and images. On top of this, alcohol can be openly consumed in public, and public intoxication is not strongly enforced. Now this does not mean that many people are sex crazed or drunkards. However, I fear that living in an environment like this can cause one to believe that the base morality behind these – controlling passions and baser instincts – is not valid. That it is fine to follow what you body wants whenever you feel like it – that inhibitions should be ignored.
When people ask me how Germany was, my quick summary will go something like this, with a smile: “It was amazing, but there was no air conditioning during 90 degree weather, so I’m glad to be back.” While that is largely an attempt at a joke, there is so much more to the story.
It’s currently 8:35am on Friday, and I am on the ICE Sprinter train speeding towards Berlin at 300km/h.
The fact that I will be leaving this place in a less than a day has not settled in yet. Every single meal, outing, even commute to class seems to have zoomed by, almost as fast as this train. There’s so many experiences to share, but here are just a couple.
It was fantastisch. Studying in a foreign city for five weeks and exploring other ones on the weekends gave a great sense of the culture, both as a citizen and as a tourist. Schnitzel and Doners, sehr lecker. Die Autos were interesting, but I wasn’t used to using public transport that much, so that sucked. And air conditioning is not common, so being there in a heatwave was irritating. But overall it was a great time filled with new experiences and memories I’ll never forget.
Oh yeah, and if you’ve ever heard someone say, “The beer there is cheaper than water”, it’s usually true, but the beer was not cheap, the water was expensive.
I’ve heard the program is going to shut down after next summer which is a real shame. The program is a great opportunity to study engineering and German(y) in a practical and fun way.
PS. For my free week of traveling, I went to Venice, Konstanz, and Prague which was a blast. All three places were drastically different in many ways and were fun to explore and relax in.