Final Thoughts on the 2015 German J-Term by
I had a wonderful time learning, exploring and making great friends in Germany this January. Throughout this experience my understanding of both the German language and customs has greatly
improved. As a freshman embarking upon this journey, I was uncertain of whether I would be lost in the European country. During the trip these worries were quickly dispelled as I found friends in my other class mates and chaperons. They all had different levels of understanding and expertise and did not hesitate to answer any my eager questions regarding the language, pronunciation and questions. A couple of times I spoke with locals and used short phrases including, “Entschuldigung”, “genau” und “Wo sind die Toiletten?”.
Through the paragraphs were each required for the course my writing skills improved immensely and I learned a quick lesson of past tenses in German to finish my writing. This knowledge has greatly benefited me and it will be helpful that I have this background in the classroom. During the trip we walked and took public transport throughout the four different cities we visited. Our tired legs were given strength by the majestic sights we came across. There was a constant sense of adventure and history everywhere we traveled. From the Brandenburg Gate and the Wall in
Berlin to the Rathaus in Hamburg and the Dom in Köln we were always in step with the culture and history of Germany.
Visiting the companies opened my eyes to the different possibilities that lay before an engineer. It was a great experience to look at Lufthansa Technik, Volkswagen, and TU Brauschweig. I greatly
enjoyed touring the particle accelerator at DESY. The concept of using magnets to accelerate, or “beschleunigen”, the electrons and protons was rather fascinating. I talked with the tour guide Paul and he said that interns would be more than welcome to work with the data for the summer. Meeting people and is another reason why I believe this trip is in the best interest of students from all disciplines.
I had a wunderbar time on this trip and would recommend it to any who wishes to improve their understanding of the German language and make lasting memories with great people along the way.
Die Studienreise war wonderbar! I loved my first experience in Germany. I got to meet so many great new people and we all had a chance to learn together. The company tours gave me a small glimpse into what my future could be as a working engineer, and I loved all the cities we visited. Berlin is a hub of activity on a major scale. Hamburg is an extreme juxtaposition between old and new, from the historic bank of die Elbe to the lively Reeperbahn. Everything in Hamburg seemed so interesting. Braunschweig is a beautiful city. I loved the cobblestone streets and the large old buildings that line them. Cologne is the historic city that I was waiting to see. The small streets along the river made me feel as though I stepped back in time.
While paying for bathrooms and constantly trying to find my next source of water may have been a culture shock, I loved my time in Germany. I learned and practiced the German language. I made new friends and we found our way around the foreign cities together. I tried new food (some good some bad), and I actually ordered most of it in German! What I learned from this trip is that I have definitely made the correct decision by being in the IEP. I cannot wait to potentially work for some of the companies we got to visit, and I am waiting for the day I can go back to Germany to study.
Over the years I have travelled to many places, but this trip was my personal favorite by far. Mainly because Germany is so much different than all the places I have been, but in a good way. Before the trip I was kind of nervous and wasn’t sure if the trip was a good idea, but now looking back on the trip, it was one of the best decisions of my life. I feel like my German language skills have increased just from being immersed for so long. I cannot wait to go back for my senior year!
For anyone that is interested in taking the J-Term trip to Germany, I have created a small list of suggestions that may help in your travels and give you an idea of what you may experience:
- Packen Sie entsprechend! (Pack appropriately!)
You do not want to be the student who has to carry three different bags. You will be doing a LOT of walking; to and from cities, through train stations and up flights of stairs. Pack the necessities: lots of socks, underwear, appropriate weather gear (it rains, a lot) and the right shoes! It was a blast traveling throughout Germany and experiencing the way in which they get around. The trains are clean and well run, and the buses can be packed full of people. You have little time to get on and off however, and trying to catch a train while lugging around too many bags can be a serious issue. Also! Don’t forget to accommodate for the things you may be bringing home with you!
- Probieren Sie neue Dinge! (Try new things!)
I say this with great emphasis; you will be in a foreign country and some things may be a shock to you, but do not be afraid to step out of the box! The food and beer (especially) is incredible! Most of the meals are typically quite hearty; a fresh cut of meat (usually fried pork or beef) alongside a generous portion of potatoes and fresh vegetables. It is important to experience food in different countries to gain an appreciation for their lifestyle. Don’t be afraid to order something that you might typically not eat! And did I mention the beer is incredible? (Please drink responsibly)
- Sprechen Sie Deutsch! (Speak German!)
You will be in Germany! Although the majority of the population speaks English very well, it is important to exercise and develop your German skills. This goes for those even in beginning German classes! We had a few freshmen who were taking German 101 and they were always intent on asking how to say this or that and the appropriate way to respond. Don’t be nervous about accidentally saying the wrong thing; you’re bound to mess up a phrase or word now again, but how else are you going to learn to speak German properly!? Make sure to order your food, ask for directions and be courteous while speaking German! Bitte, entschuldigen and danke are the big three; we used these is almost every situation. Read the signs! Ask your teacher or the other students what common phrases you see around mean, you’ll be amazed at how much you can learn from these. Finally, brush up on your German before you leave and don’t be afraid to purchase an English – German dictionary (they come in handy)!
- Vergessen Sie nicht, Spaß zu haben! Do not forget to have fun!
This is by far the MOST important on my list. Not everyone has the opportunity to travel to a different country and experience what culture is like across the world. You might not get to travel again and you don’t want to remember the trip for everything you disliked. Make friends with your peers and push them to try new things with you, go to the bars to have a couple of drinks and appreciate German culture! Taking pictures is a must. These will not only help you with your projects, but help you to remember that time you traveled abroad. The company visits were exciting and gives you an idea what it may be like to work in a German environment; take in as much information as you can, ask questions (in German!) and LEARN SOMETHING! And don’t forget to EXPLORE!
I had such an amazing time traveling around Germany and exploring the different cities and culture. I would recommend this trip to anyone who has a case of Wanderlust and to students in any area of study. This trip is focused around learning what it is like to live and work in Germany. I am a political science major and, despite the emphasis on engineering, I was able to learn about concepts and ideas which pertained to my academia. Remember, you won’t have access to Wi-Fi everywhere, so learn to live without your phone! Send postcards to your friends and family, give them a call or text when you return from a long day of exploration and don’t spend too much time on the internet when it is available. Last but not least, it is important to be safe and responsible while in Germany! Ich wünsche Ihnen viel Glück und viel Spaß!
Before I went on this trip, I had some expectations and preconceived ideas of what Germany would be like and the differences I would observe in the culture, way of life, transportation, food, money, fashion, language, interaction, and architecture of Germany as opposed to America. It was my very first time traveling to Europe, and the experience was extraordinary. I had to quickly get accustomed to using public transportation such as the U-Bahn and S-Bahn and multiple trains and buses. I also had to adjust to the German cuisine which involved plentiful amounts of bread and rolls, an entire array of meats for breakfast, the classic German Schnitzel mit Kartoffeln, and the ever so popular Currywurst. I can honestly say that I consumed more bread during this trip than I have in my entire life. My favorite food option in Germany had to have been the Döner Pide, and I especially liked the yogurt dressing. Vegetarians beware because Germans love their meat! German chocolate is also very delectable. When we toured the Schokoladenmuseum, I bought chocolate for all of my friends and family, and they said it was the best chocolate they had ever tasted. Another cultural shock I experienced was the young drinking age. Germans are permitted to drink at 16 whereas in America, we must wait until we turn 21. However, Germany is famous for their beer, and it was not an odd sight to see a man throwing back a beer on the streets since it is legal to drink in public. Some popular German beers that I sampled were Becks, König Pilsener, Berliner Pilsener, Kapuziner, and Mühlen Kölsch.
Besides experiencing the culturally different food and drink options, I truly loved seeing the beautiful architecture of all the cities we visited. I found Berlin to be very big and modernized compared to Hamburg, Braunschweig, and Köln. I liked different aspects of each city. For example, I enjoyed Berlin because it reminded me of a less congested New York City. I was thoroughly amused by Hamburg’s nightlife and its gorgeous buildings; however, lugging my suitcase up all those stairs was torturous. If you have never been to Europe before, I would strongly advise you to take the phrase “pack lightly” seriously. My favorite city was Braunschweig because it was small enough to feel comfortable but big enough to discover new things and branch out. I am very excited to be studying there in the near future at the Universität. I was also elated to be staying in a hotel there rather than staying in a hostel as we did in Berlin, Hamburg, and Köln. I was told that I had to experience staying at a hostel in my lifetime, and it was certainly an experience. It was very cramped but manageable.
I admired most the way in which Europeans dressed and how beautiful they all were. Europeans undoubtedly hold themselves to a certain standard in how they present themselves, and I appreciated their fashion. The price of living in Europe is more expensive simply because for every American dollar, it is equivalent to approximately 1.12 Euros (the exact amount changes frequently, however). It was slightly difficult accustoming myself to using coins instead of one dollar bills, and credit cards were rarely used as opposed to America where they are frequently used even for small purchases. Other than the money difference, I found the attitudes of the people and the way in which they interacted to be different from Americans. I noticed that German humor is much more direct and curt, and the people are not as friendly as Americans. I was also taken aback by the prominence of bikes in Germany. It was definitely a more common form of transportation. Furthermore, the cars were smaller and more compact compared to the cars in America. I found it shocking to see a Mercedes Benz as a taxi because in America, a Mercedes Benz is luxury and high-class car. When crossing the street, the Germans believe it to be very important to obey the red man. Since people do drive considerably faster, it is worthwhile to respect the rules when crossing the street.
Coming from America, paying to use the bathroom was unquestionably one of the biggest cultural shocks. I will hand it to Europe for having exceptionally clean bathrooms, but it was difficult getting past the fact that I was paying an entire Euro to use a bathroom. In addition to this oddity, the weather in Germany was poor. The wind was so strong, and the rain was very heavy. An umbrella proved to be a necessity in Germany. We also endured a few hailstorms that were not pleasant. Another cultural shock was the inability to use my phone whenever I wished to. My iPhone was essentially useless besides the spare moments when Wi-Fi was available in the hostels. Being away from the social media was daunting but also relaxing. This forced me to really appreciate Germany and all that it had to offer. I was the biggest tourist, taking pictures of everything I thought to be interesting or pretty. I found the Kölner Dom to be absolutely amazing and the scenery of southern Germany to be simply gorgeous. In Berlin, I was fascinated by the Holocaust Dokumentationszentrum, and I enjoyed the production of Angst Essen Seele Auf at the Maxim Gorki Theater because I was informed that German theater is not only a form of entertainment, but each production also delivers a certain message.
Phrases such as “Entschuldigung” and “Bitte” I used quite frequently during my time abroad, and I find myself still speaking a few common German words back at home in America. Overall, my experience in Germany was entirely delightful, and I would, without a doubt, travel abroad again. Traveling to just four cities in Germany was not enough! I would recommend traveling to Europe simply to learn more about the different cultures of other countries besides America and to get out of your comfort zone. Germany was very much fun and interesting, and I am glad I had the opportunity to explore and learn what it was like to be a true German even if it was only for a short period of time.
I can still remember stepping out of the plane and seeing Germany for the first time with the wind whipping against my face, I was almost terrified because I’ve never been out of the country. Everything I saw seemed new and different, the landscape, the transportation process, the language. And as I looked around before we left I was sad to be leaving, no longer anxious about my surroundings, comforted by my new knowledge of the culture, more passionate about the language, and lastly excited to come back for a year. This trip has cemented my decision to go to Germany for a year with the IEP program, and I am no longer anxious about going abroad. The 2015 j-term trip was my first emersion to Germany and their culture. I feel as though I have been introduced to their way of life and will not be so shocked when I spend a year there, I will know exactly what to expect.
The first place we visited in Germany was Berlin. My time spent in Berlin was the most shocking, that’s when I noticed the major differences between the United States and Germany. The three major differences I noticed in Berlin was the public transportation, the architecture of buildings and houses, and paying for using the bathrooms in public places. In Berlin I was amazed to see how great the public transportation system would be in Germany. Group tickets cost only a few Euros and they could be used until 3 am. Also I was shocked to see how often the buses, trains, S-bahn/U-Bahn’s came, if you missed one it was generally only a few minutes until the next one arrived. The Hauptbahnhof which is German for central station of Berlin was remarkable, all different types of public transportation lead here, and inside there were so many stores and places to get food. It was so large scale compared to anything I had seen in the US. During our days spent in Berlin we used the public transportation system or walked anywhere we needed to be, and as we moved through the capital I got my first taste of the landscape of Germany. Berlin is huge, and it is filled with newer modern building and beautiful old buildings all mixed together in one town. There was not a flow of newer to older building, the style of each building varied, if you looked one way you could see a modern building that was colorful and interestingly shaped, and if you looked the other way you could see an old building with beautiful architecture. The last strange thing that surprised me in Berlin was when I had to use the restroom at the Hauptbahnhof I realized I had to pay to use it. A bathroom visit in public would end up costing 50 cents to a euro depending on the establishment, but positively they ended up being very well-kept and clean.
We traveled to Hamburg next, and I liked Hamburg better than Berlin. Hamburg was a little quieter and smaller scaled. But what I loved most was the day we did the walking tour in Hamburg. Although it was rainy, it was impossible to be miserable because Hamburg is so striking. Hamburg is on the water, and this aspect is what made it so magnificent, along with the old architecture on most of the buildings. There were less new/modern buildings in Hamburg and each time the tour guide showed us another place or building “sehr schön” was all I thought. Hamburg was fun because that’s when I started to feel confident enough and understood how to order food. When ordering food you should start with something like “Ich nehme..” which means “I’ll take..” or “Ich möchte..” which means “I would like..” and end with bitte, meaning please and is very polite to say when ordering food. Some differences when ordering food would be that, water is not complementary, it costs to have a glass of water. Also when ordering water you must ask for “stilles Wasser” otherwise you receive a bubbly, carbonated form of water. When receiving your food it is polite to say “Danke” (thank you) or “Danke schön” (thank you very much) and your waiter will most likely respond with “Bitte schön” meaning something like “you’re very welcome.”
Next we travelled to Braunschweig which would be the most important and informational city for any German IEP or IEB-er who will be going to school in Braunschweig for a semester. Luckily, I found that Braunschweig was my favorite city we went to. It was a little smaller than Hamburg or Berlin, everything was closer together and I thought the city was well set up. While in Braunschweig we took a tour of a few of the facilities that we could be taking classes in during our first six months abroad, and even received a few presentations from two kids from URI doing there year abroad right now. The tour of the buildings we received made me excited, the building and equipment looked well taken care of and large scale than any we have at URI. Later in the day there was a meeting with some of the kids from Germany studying at Braunschweig that would be going to URI next year. When we met with the German college students it hit me that all of the tours and places we went in Germany it seemed that most of the Germans could speak impeccable English. Especially any of the younger generation who loved getting the chance to communicate with us in English and answer any questions we had. Later on after that we attended a barbeque with all the IEP-ers from URI doing there year abroad, who were willing to talk about or answer any questions or concerns we had about the IEP program or going abroad. Our time in Braunschweig was well worth the trip Germany, and comforted me so much to hear others perspectives and experiences of their time abroad so far.
Lastly we travelled to Köln where we would be spending our last couple days in Germany. By this time I felt like a pro, and I was into the routine of Germany, walking where we need to be, takings S-Bahn/U-Bahn’s and being able to follow the public transportation schedule. The highlight of Köln was definitely the Kölner Dom, also known as the Köln Cathedral. A huge cathedral where they have one tower open to climb with a tour group, over 500 steps but well worth the view. Even if you didn’t want to climb all those stairs, the lobby of the cathedral where the church service is held is breathtaking in and of itself. On the very last day when our group separated to shop I was pleased to find out at the end of the day that I could figure out by reading the maps what U-Bahn we had to take to get back to the hostel. The whole trip all together was awesome, I feel as though I learned a lot about the country and culture, and am so ready and excited to spend a year abroad!!
My trip to Germany was a fun, educational, and eye-opening one. Any nervousness I had about going abroad was gone after the first day. I had fun with everyone on the trip every day. It was hard to tell with all the fun I was having that I was actually learning about a new culture and language, as well as many different companies that I may be working for in the future. By just being immersed in the culture and language for 10 days, I already feel like I know a lot more than before I went. The company visits were also interesting and informative. There were some companies I knew about going in, but I learned about others that I also had a strong interest in. One such company was IAV automotive. They actually create many of the engines that go into Volkswagen’s cars. I think the most important things I took away from this trip was the feeling that I belonged and could communicate in Germany already. I was nervous about the prospect of going abroad for an entire year in the future. Having been in Germany for just 10 days, I already feel like I could function in Germany for a long period of time. I would recommend this trip to anyone who is interested in another culture or another language and wants to learn about a future career.
Die Studienreise war ein tolles Erlebnis und ich würde es empfehlen. Wir besuchten viele interessante Firmen, bei denen man Praktika bekommen kann. Den IAV-Besuch fand ich am besten. Obwohl ich mich eigentlich nicht so sehr für Autos interessiere, war es trotzdem interessant zu sehen, wie sie die Motoren prüfen. Was mir am besten bei IAV gefallen hat, war aber wie wir mit den Arbeitern in der Kantine gegessen haben, weil es sehr persönlich war. Wenn ich ein Praktikum machen würde, könnte ich es mir so vorstellen. Der wichtigste Teil der Reise war sicherlich das Treffen mit den Braunschweiger Studenten, die nächstes Jahr nach URI kommen und die URI Studenten, die jetzt in Deutschland sind. Die deutschen Studenten haben uns Vieles gefragt und wir haben gleichweis viele Fragen gestellt. Es gab auch einige Vorträge über die verschiedene Institutionen. Wer in Braunschweig studieren will, kann während dieser Reise viel lernen und vorbereiten.
Ich hatte eine absolut tolle Zeit in Deutschland, und ich bin so froh, dass ich diesen Kurs genommen habe. Ich empfehle diesen Kurs für alle, die auf allen Ebenen ihre Deutschkenntnisse stärken möchten. Vor der Reise war ich sehr nervös darüber nach Übersee zu gehen, aber jetzt bin ich sehr zuversichtlich mit mir und wie ich im Ausland leben könnte. Ich habe vier schöne Städte besucht, und jede hatte etwas anderes zu bieten. Alle Touren waren sehr informativ und haben uns tolle Einblicke in zukünftige potenzielle Arbeitgeber gegeben. Ich habe in jeder Stadt neue Freunde gefunden und auch meine Kommilitonen. Ich habe etwas Neues jeden Tag gelernt, und je mehr ich gelernt habe, je mehr habe ich mich verliebt. Jetzt freue ich mich sehr auf meine Rückkehr 2016.
Going to Germany was one of the greatest things I’ve ever done. I feel as though I now understand a lot about the German language, country and culture and although I still have a great deal to learn, I feel that I am better prepared for my year abroad. I look forward to my studies in Braunschwieg and my future as a student of Engineering and German.
For those who are thinking about studying in Germany I have a few bits of advice. First, watch out for vehicles. Whether it’s a car, train, bus or someone on a bike, if you are in their way, they will keep run you over. Apparently, pedestrians don’t have the right of way and I witnessed a few close calls. Also, make sure you have coins. Unless, you are in a restaurant or hotel, you will need to pay to use the restroom. As you can probably imagine, this can become inconvenient. Finally, on the more fun side of things, go try to experience Germany’s night life. I met a lot of very friendly and very interesting Germans during my trip and it provided me with a means to better understand the country, its people and its culture.
Zurück in Braunschweig und Deutschland zu sein war ein tolles Erlebnis, von dem ich denke, manche IEP Studenten machen es nicht. Es war toll Freunde, die ich während meiner Zeit in Deutschland gefunden habe, wiederzusehen. Ich habe auch viele neue Freunde auf dieser Studienreise gefunden. Ich habe auch eine neue Stadt, Köln, gesehen. Weil Kirchen und Kathedralen meine Lieblingsgebäude sind, es war sehr schön, den Kölner Dom zu sehen. Keiner weiter Weg war es vom Kölner Dom zum Schokoladenmuseum, und obwohl Luft nur ein bisschen wichtigster für die Menschen als Schokolade ist, war es interessant die Geschichte der Schokolade in Deutschland zu erkunden. Ich vergesse nie mein erstes Mal “draußen”, außerhalb der USA oder in den USA ohne meine Eltern und wie ich mich fühlte zu reisen. Ich freue mich sehr, dass ich mit einigen der neuen Internationalen Studenten diese gleiche Erfahrung mitmachen konnte. Es war auch interessant, das Denkbild in Deutschland in der Zukunft zu entdecken. Ich könnte mich später bei IAV oder im Bundesministerium für Umwelt arbeiten sehen. Das wäre ein toller Ort, der kein schlechter Plan in drei oder fünf Jahren wäre.