Germany - Food Travels: Shannon Smith, Biological Engineering


Posted: June 17, 2013

My experience was eye-opening in respect to education as well as culture...
The Penn State group at the Nymphenburg Castle right outside of Munich

The Penn State group at the Nymphenburg Castle right outside of Munich

Upon arriving at the airport in Dulles, I started to feel nervous about the trip to Germany, about whether I would get along with my classmates, and about whether or not I would have as good of an experience as everyone was telling me I would.  As I said good-bye to my mom and hello to my classmates, my nerves began to dissipate and then as the plane landed in Munich, my nerves were replaced with the excitement of an adventure through Germany with my eight new friends.

This trip really turned out to be a great experience educationally as well as socially. I not only gained new friends but I also learned how to manage myself in several new ways. I learned how to make myself fit into a group of nine very SmithGermany3.pngdifferent people, how to get around foreign cities while making my money last, and how to communicate with people who did not speak English. It was fun to put my knowledge of the German language to the test and to see that I could still pick it up. I am usually a very indecisive individual but with a language barrier and eight other people to keep up with, I found that I was making decisions much more quickly and reasonably. All of these are traits that I wish to maintain while being back home as well.

In describing my experience to a potential employer, I would certainly tell them about the skills that I acquired but I would also explain to them how this was a huge learning experience for me. I went into this trip with minimal knowledge of agricultural sciences except as they apply to engineering but came home with a much greater understanding. For example; I had absolutely no clue how farms functioned or how precise the care of dairy cows must be. After going to the dairy farms and talking to my classmates who were more experienced in that field, I realized that the process really is a science in itself. I also realized that it can relate to my studies as each farm that we visited had anaerobic digesters for bio-gas production. I would also explain to the employer how interesting it was to see how everything works in a different country and not just the sciences but the society as well. They had very advanced technology and research and the people seemed just like us until actually talking to them and hearing about how different their experiences have been. Overall, I would tell the employer that my experience was eye-opening in respect to education as well as culture.

I am finding it difficult to choose one particular highlight of the trip but my favorite day was the day we toured the Schloss Nymphenburg and then had the rest of the day free. The castle was one of the coolest things I have seen and was amazed at how grand it was with its vast gardens in the front and back. It was a beautiful day and a group of us went to the English Gardens. SmithGermany2.pngIt was very crowded but still one of the most peaceful places I have ever been to. I also felt like we were really immersed in the culture there; having lunch in the biergarten and relaxing on the hillside among the groups of German people. On the other hand, my favorite educational aspect of the trip was going to BASF and Hohenheim University. I really enjoyed both visits; listening to them talk, knowing exactly what they meant and learning from their practices as opposed to what I have seen before.

I definitely want to travel abroad again and I have a whole list of places that I want to go. I want to go to Ireland because that is where my Grandpa grew up and because it’s beautiful over there. I want to go to Australia during the summertime because it has so many adventures to offer and it seems like such a fun place to experience. I want to go to Paris to see the Eiffel Tower lit up at night and to simply experience the culture. I want to go to Italy to try all of the food and wine and ride in a gondola. But, most importantly, I want to go back to Germany. I want to go with my family and finally visit where my dad grew up and meet his side of the family. I also want to let my Omi take me to all of the places she loves and have her improve my German as we go. I want to ski the Alps with my dad and hear my aunts, uncles, and cousins yodel off the top of them in their Lederhosen and Dirndls. Going back to Germany will be the next place I travel abroad but after that, I want to see as much of the world as I can and experience as much of each place as possible.