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Food Travels: Germany - Meaghan Emery, Animal Sciences

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Posted: February 13, 2014

Studying abroad can be one of the most rewarding, life changing experiences there is.

Many people will never get the chance to study abroad, but those who do will forever remember the wonderful time that they had. I am thankful to be one of those lucky ones that got to study abroad. Even though it was only a short study abroad, I am much more aware of the German culture and lifestyle.

You can learn almost anything from any given situation; the tough part is figuring out what it is you learned. When looking back on this trip, I believed I have gained a few new skills. One of the most obvious lessons would be communication. When visiting another country whose main language is not that of your own, a few challenges can arise. There was a few times where I felt very lost because I had no clue what someone was saying. In times like these, especially when speaking to somebody directly, you must find another way of communicating. I found that many times I was just talking too fast or using too complex words, but in some cases I had to resort to using hand signals. In situations like these, it forced me to express myself in a way that I normally wouldn’t, but it also taught me patience. It is important to be patient and to not get upset if something isn’t going the way you had hoped or expected. I also got the chance to practice self and time management. Germans are a very punctual people, and since we were on a schedule, we were expected to be on time at all times. This meant that I had to plan ahead by looking at the itinerary every morning. I needed to know what to bring or not bring for the day as well as figure out what to do in the allotted free time.

EmeryGermany2.pngSince I am in the business management option of my major, there were a few things I noticed that Germans do to protect and improve their business. For example, when going to the John Deere factory in Manheim as well as the Ritter Sport factory, when touring the facility, we had to walk within the yellow lines. The purpose of this in the John Deere factory was more for precaution and safety, whereas in the Ritter Sport factory it was more for hygiene and safety. I am not familiar with the German laws dealing with hygiene and sanitation in food production plants, but I did notice a big difference between the Ritter Sport chocolate factory and the Gardner’s Candy factory that I visited with class a few months ago in Tyrone, PA. For one, we did not have to wear full suits at Gardner’s, but I was covered from head to toe at Ritter Sport. And, we had to walk across a special machine to sanitize the bottom of our shoes, which we also did not have to do at Gardner’s. I feel that as a potential employer, it would be interesting to learn of these things and possibly implement them in my own factory.

There were many things that I enjoyed about my trip, so I don’t think that I would be able to pick out one favorite thing. However, I am a bit of a history nerd and really enjoyed learning about the history of the places we visited. The first guided tour of Munich by Jan was fascinating because we got to see a lot of the old city and learn about Munich’s history. It’s mind boggling to think how some of their buildings are older than our country. I also really liked the tour of the Viktualienmarkt with Gisela. It seems that Germans as a whole tend to eat more fresh and healthy foods. That was the first time I had ever seen or heard of a beer garden and I thought that was very interesting as well.

My favorite part about Heidelberg was touring the castle and “hiking” up the philosopher’s path. Castles are fascinating and each one has its own unique story. This castle in particular is very famous and for the most part, pretty well preserved. Both views from the castle and the philosopher’s path are wonderful which made for some very nice pictures. And finally, I enjoyed exploring around town during whatever free time we had. I was able to take my time doing whatever and it gave me a chance to really soak up the atmosphere and culture of the two cities. Munich and Heidelberg are both very different but they both have quite a bit to offer, and I enjoyed my time there very much.

EmeryGermany3.pngFor the most part, I was very pleased with the trip itinerary; however there were a couple things I would change. Personally, I think visiting three dairy farms is too much. I would keep the first two that we visited in the same day because they were quite different and I was able to make a comparison. But the third one seemed very similar to the first one apart from their energy production. Also, as an animal science major who knows nothing about mechanics, the tour of the John Deere plant in Manheim was long and a bit hard to follow. I can see how this would relate to farming and agriculture since they produce tractors, but it was just too technical for me. Lastly, I have grown up eating German food my whole life, but I would also have liked to learn a bit more about traditional German cuisine and how it is prepared.

If ever given the chance to travel abroad again, I would love to go back to Ireland. I went there five years ago with my family for vacation and absolutely loved it. However, one of my goals in life is to travel and see as much of the world as possible. If I were to decide to go somewhere completely new, I would choose to go to Africa. There is no place in particular that I would want to go to, but I think that seeing any part of Africa would be intriguing. From what I have heard, and from pictures I have seen, everything just seems so different than the life I am used to here in America. Germany had its differences, but there were also many similarities, whereas Africa seems like a world away. Everything over there from the people, the customs and culture, to the animals is different and I would love to get a chance to experience it for myself some day.

Growing up in a German family, especially with a Grandmother from Germany, I have always heard stories about what Germany is like. I’ve pictured it in my head but nothing can compare to the real thing. I am so glad that I got the opportunity to see this wonderful country, and I would definitely recommend this trip to future Ag students.