Growing up I have always enjoyed traveling and going on trips to see new places and try new things. When I began attending UTC this past Fall semester and received emails of what all opportunities were becoming available, I was hesitant to engage in these opportunities. As someone who isn’t very outgoing, I find opportunities like these to be very intimidating if I’m in unfamiliar territory or around unfamiliar people. As the semester progressed, I received an email about a faculty-led international experience to Germany and decided to attend an interest meeting to see what it was about.
Afterwards I decided to go and sign up for the course (since I was under the impression that courses like these were rare opportunities). Apparently courses like these are common. At the time I was encouraged by my family to take part in this opportunity since it was something I seemed to be interested in and it was a great opportunity to see another part of the world. I decided to choose the program because of my enjoyment of travel and what I thought was a rare opportunity, also I was not too particular about the destination which was Germany.
When the trip finally came around and the journey to Germany began, I felt more emotional about being away from home than I anticipated. The first couple of nights were way more of an adjustment than I had expected, spending my evenings feeling regret and fear of what may happen and what has been happening in my absence from home. These emotions were unexpected and would say to anyone looking to take a trip or study abroad like I did, do not underestimate the adjustment period.
The trip overall consisted of three main locations (Berlin, Wolfsburg, and Cologne) and two smaller locations where we spent the day (Potsdam and Aachen). Berlin was the place where half of the trip took place and in my personal opinion was a great place to adjust to but felt like it catered too much towards tourist and felt too much like a big city, New York wannabe which through off my initial reaction to Germany. I got to go and see many places in and around Berlin from the Berlin Cathedral to Olympiastadium to the Brandenburg Gate and more.
The day trip to Potsdam was also a unique day trip filled with classic Dutch architecture in the local town we visited during our historical tour through Potsdam. The highlight of the trip was getting to see the Sanssouci palace which was built as a summer home for Fredrick the Great. Potsdam was possibly my favorite day because it really felt like an opportunity to step back in time and learn some German history while also admiring the beautiful nature that can be found throughout Germany.
Throughout the trip I also went to visit many faculty-led business visits from local businesses to the BMW Motorcycle Factory to even Volkswagen Headquarters. After Berlin, the group visited Wolfsburg for a brief time to visit Volkswagen and Ostfalia University (UTC’s sister university). I think the visit to Volkswagen and their Autostadt was my favorite company visit because of the chance to learn about the automotive manufacturing industry and getting to tour the Autostadt and enjoy the car museum and the many displays of vehicles around the facility.
Before leaving for Cologne, our group got to tour Ostfalia University and learn more about the German education system, how it is different from in the U.S. and the opportunity to interact with a couple of the students made the visit to Wolfsburg more engaging and inviting. When arriving in Wolfsburg, I felt that the scenery and the location was something I was more accustomed to and gave me more of the Germany I had envisioned before I arrived in Berlin. Given that Wolfsburg is in the country and the architecture I got to see was older like that of Potsdam. The final destination was Cologne where the group would also get to see Aachen, which was an old fishing town which was turned into a great looking town filled with old and elaborate architecture. Aachen was a nice place to spend the day but I felt that Cologne was a great place to end the trip.
Cologne, I felt captured my assumed image of Germany with the old town look which felt like an old village rather than a thriving city. The main attractions for me were the Cologne Cathedral and the time we had as a group at the final dinner where we would reminisce and enjoy the company of one another before we headed our separate ways. Cologne Cathedral was a timeless piece of art which I feel was often easy to forget that it is still an active church given how elaborate and majestic it is in appearance.
As the final day came and the time for departure approached, I began to reflect on the trip as this continued into my eventual return home. I feel like the experience was a great way for me to try something new, see another part of the world, and engage in new and unfamiliar territory which was intimidating at first. This opportunity taught me many things not just from the business side or about German history and the lifestyle of the Germans but about myself. As I mentioned I do not consider myself outgoing unless I’m in comfortable company or circumstances and I feel that this trip was a great step forward in helping me become more outgoing and take up new opportunities.
If all of my electives could be these UTC trips, I would probably take more of them but since they do not, I may not take another trip with the university but I certainly feel more confident and comfortable in my ability to plan my own trips and go to the places I’d like to see and discover different cultures and lifestyles and learn more about what makes countries and their people different.
Though everyone may be different in the way we look or the way we act and live, everyone is human and that was one of the main lessons I got to see firsthand. As I went around Germany and interacted with others and got to see people interact these thoughts of human connection kept popping up in my mind which is why I mentioned that takeaway.
Overall, I would encourage anyone who is interested in study abroad or anyone looking for a new opportunity to seek out chances like these and to see and learn what you can about the world around you and in the process I feel that you will learn as much about the world and the people around you as you will about yourself in every way.
Caleb Evett (BS Management) spent spent part of May 2023 participating in a faculty-led trip to Germany through the Rollins College of Business. Caleb had the following to say about studying abroad, “I would say that this trip has allowed me to learn that opportunities like these should be taken when they are available. Also, this trip provided plenty of learning opportunities and chances to grow and mature when faced when encountering the unknown. I would say that if anyone is interested in study abroad to go if they can because of the personal, academic, and life experiences that can be gained when studying abroad and used throughout the rest of your life. Lastly, I would say that the adjustment period is the biggest (and personally the most unexpected) obstacle I faced, and I feel that everyone else faced in their own ways. Overall, I will just reiterate what everyone says and encourage anyone who is interested in studying abroad or travelling, to go and enjoy it and that the faculty-Led trip I took allowed for a great way to see the world with other students and great professors.”
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