I visited Germany for 2 weeks in July. One week was spent in Berlin and the other in Cologne. This was my first time out of the country since covid began. Air travel was a bit frustrating but it taught me how to prepare better next time. Germany itself was wonderful. I always learned about Germany’s history in school but seeing it and learning about it through the locals was very different. It helped me open my eyes to a whole new culture and mindset. I enjoyed visiting some small and medium size businesses and learning about their operations, structure, culture, etc. as well as doing a lot of sightseeing in my free time. Some places we visited include Checkpoint Charlie, the East Side Wall, TV Tower, and Potsdam. I also appreciated Germany’s environmental efforts, such as public transportation, electric vehicles, recycling, and compostable materials. I wish the U.S. did more of that.
The restaurant experience there is so different from how we do things in the U.S. It took me some adjusting to but I loved the food there. I found a plethora of vegetarian options, and there were many nationalities represented. One can never go hungry in Germany! Most places also had outdoor seating so customers can enjoy the warm weather and beautiful views. The weather ranged around 60-70 degrees on most days. I wish I had done some research and packed better. The locals there are also wonderful. Even with a language barrier most people were understanding and helped us out. I took inspiration from Berlin’s uniqueness and authenticity compared to the rest of Germany. We also visited some nearby small towns and got to see a different, more quiet side of Germany compared to the busy, touristy spots in Berlin. I love the geographic closeness of Germany. One hour on a train can get you anywhere in the country.
Our second week in Cologne was very different from our time in Berlin. Cologne is quieter, cleaner, filled with more locals, and has lots of beer! I had the opportunity to try their famous kolsch beer and participate in a beer tour. Some places we visited in Cologne include a perfume museum tour, a boat tour, the famous Cologne Cathedral, and various local restaurants and shops. The two nearby towns we visited, Bonn and Aachen, had a rich culture and played an important role in German history. However, we never learn about them in books. The tour guides at most of the town visits we did were very informative and friendly. I enjoyed them all and appreciated the professors planning it ahead of time. Everything was a lot closer in Cologne so we didn’t use as much public transportation.
Additionally, we came across several people from the States as well as many from neighboring European countries. We always had great conversations with them. The locals were also very friendly and welcoming. Cologne reminded me a bit of Chattanooga since we stayed in a hotel near a river and a bridge. Both cities are unique in themselves, and I loved them both. I plan to go back to Germany to work and live there temporarily. Overall, I had an amazing time here and made lots of good memories as well as new friends. My professors were also great and planned everything out and prepared us well.
Reedhi Bamnelkar (BS Accounting) spent several weeks of summer 2022 in Germany as part of a faculty-led trip linked with a UTC course. Reedhi had the following to say about study abroad, “Take the opportunity to study abroad. You will learn a lot about a different culture, country, travel in general, and feel more confident being on your own. I learned a lot of lessons through this experience as well as made good friends. I feel more confident being in a foreign country on my own now.”
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