I was a bit anxious about traveling to Europe alone, but now that my trip has ended and I’ve landed safely in the USA, I can say it was the most exciting, exhilarating, and educational experience of my life! Berlin, Germany was nothing like, and everything I expected. Despite the warnings I’ve read about German’s being rude and distant, I experienced quite the opposite. Case in point, after landing, I couldn’t find the bus station, so I merely asked a stranger. Even though he spoke limited English, he pointed me in the right direction. My first impression, South Bronx, NY. Graffiti, tons of immigrants, trains and buses, lots of crazy drivers, and people busying about the town.
During our first week in Berlin, we toured the city in a wonderfully air conditioned, stylish van. The tour guide complained about the tinted windows, but I loved it -we visited both East and West Berlin. The tour guide was this personable, funny, and opinionated West Berliner by way of Austria and our driver was the quiet, obliging, and patient Russian. Our trip was both informative and entertaining. I particularly liked the way she said, “Ya” after asking questions. I learned a lot about Berlin as it is now redefining itself after WWII and the downfall of the Berlin Wall. I learned about architecture, politics, and the social atmosphere. It was quite interesting.
We also toured BMW’s motorcycle plant in Kreuzberg, Berlin. The plant was massive, holding both a piece of the past and new technology. It appeared to be a lean pull to order (MTO-Make to Order) manufacturing plant. I believe the tour guide called it a “customer order manufacturing” or something like that. Our guide was a soon to be a 24-year-old agricultural student by the name of Eurich. It appears BMW has a sort of internship program for students no matter the major. Employees are selected from thousands of applicants to train for three years with guaranteed employment upon completion. It appears the plant only has about 25% female workers (up from 11%). The tour was extremely informative, and the guide was well versed in English (I believe he studied for a year in the US).
We also visited Wolfsburg, Germany, where we toured castles, libraries and ate great food! I enjoyed our tour of the Volkswagen plant. It was an enjoyable experience! Our tour guide was this extremely funny (or at least he tried to be) gentleman who has worked for VW for the past 27 years. I also enjoyed our tour of historical library Herzog August, and the city of Wolfenbuttel, I loved learning about the history and contributions of Wolfenbuttel citizens. They appear to be a very proud town – and rightly so.
Three hundred to five hundred words aren’t enough to describe all the fun I had. Thanks, UTC, for the best experience of this non-traditional student’s life!
Dawn Jones is an MBA student at UTC. She participated in a faculty-led trip to Germany through the College of Business in May, 2018. Dawn believes the following quote by Robert Breault best reflects her study abroad experience, “Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”
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