Most of us are home now, and now have the chance to look back at our adventure that we were privileged to experience. Lacey and Fer are still in Europe, continuing on with their adventures. For the rest of us, we left Germany behind, and headed for home. After a long day of travel, it was so nice to be able to sleep in my own bed.
I want to say thank you to all of our friends in Germany, for making us feel at home, and for guiding our class through our industry tours, and sightseeing expeditions. the on going discussion was if it was more like herding chickens, or cats.
I think the best part of the trip, was meeting, and being on the trip with an incredible group of people. As an undergrad, hearing the stories, and experiences of all of these wonderful people have inspired me, and I am ready to finish my degree this summer, and create my own technical communications career, and after gaining some experience, go back to school for my masters degree.
We spent Friday afternoon, Saturday, and Sunday enjoying the sights and venues of the beautiful city of Munich. Munich is the capital of Bavaria in southern Germany and is a center for industry and business, but also for cultural events. Munich attracts numerous tourists as we noticed at Marienplatz in the old city on Friday.
Waiting for the noon appearance of the glockenspiel at the city hall in Marienplatz, Munich.
The crowds in Marienplatz wait for the performance.
We made our way back to Karlsruhe on Sunday afternoon, spent the night and then headed back by train to the Frankfurt Flughafen (airport). The train station is at the airport which makes travel easy.
The view from the ICE train to Frankfurt. You can see the yellow crop (rapeseed, used to make canola oil) and probably oats or barley in the background.
Sitting in the quiet of the hotel lobby at 4:30 AM (don’t ask me why), I am able to take a moment and reflect on these incredible 10 days. We have met many terrific people, both German and American. We have made connections which I believe may last a lifetime. We have learned about things new to us and viewed old, familiar situations from different perspectives. We have challenged our own and others’ assumptions. That is a lot of personal growth in 10 short days. These ramblings may be a product of overload.
Every day we met new people. We met our classmates in person for the first time. We met Herr Müthig and his students. I can’t count the number of people I’ve met from the school, during the industry visits, at TEKOM and the impromptu Twitter meeting, and while wandering around Munich. I am always amazed at the wide variety displayed by people who are basically similar at heart. We display our differences to be unique and individual, but it is our common humanity which ultimately connects us. I have met warm, generous, kind, humorous, intelligent, curious, lovely human beings (and not just the ones who inhabit hotel lobbies at the crack of dawn!) Each of us has an individual story, but those stories have many similar threads running through them. I know I have made some very special connections which will last the rest of my life.
We have had our assumptions challenged. We have seen different methods of teaching, different company structures, and different relationships between schools and industry. Seeing the variety of organizations and approaches pushes us to look at our situation with critical eyes. What are the advantages of each? What are the perceived disadvantages of each? How are the underlying assumptions different and how do they influence the result? What can we learn from our experiences and how do we take what we learned and improve our current situation? But our eyes can be opened but seemingly mundane things, too. We hear about someone being overwhelmed by the choices offered at a Cold Stone Creamery shop. When was the last time I actually felt overwhelmed by choices available to me? How accustomed we become to our situation and how surprised we are when we find that our unique situation is not universal.
I like spiral images. They are a metaphor for life’s experiences. Each new experience offers us an opportunity to view our previous experiences from a slightly altered viewpoint. Each new experience is an invitation to (re)view previous experiences to discover similarities and differences. Each time around the spiral we approach the same point from a slightly different perspective.
While we were giving our presentations to the students at Karlsruhe it was a very novel concept to them that we go to school online. We kept explaining that none of us had ever met in person until we met in the airport at Frankfurt. As a 100% online learner not in the state of Minnesota, I really enjoyed this trip and the opportunity to meet my classmates and Dr. Tesdell in person. Some of the highlights and things that I have really enjoyed about my classmates have been:
- Learning that Ann I both played French Horn in High School band through our many sidetracked conversations about anything and everything!
- Seeing Maurice try to teach these Yankees how to “stroll.”
- Hearing Kevin’s stories…ALL of them! He was the best story teller of the group by far. He had me laughing so hard.
- FINALLY meeting my partner from the whole semester, Darin and learning about all of his incredible experiences in business. (And hopefully learning from them too!)
- Spending time with Kelly in Strasbourg and learning about her life in New York. (Especially the fact that she does roller derby!)
- Fer’s tweet about Tekom showing up on their homepage during our visit, and then that leading into a twitter invite to visit a nearby software company.
- Listening to Anders interact with our German friend Christian. There were some fun conversations!
- Counting the number of times Dr. Tesdell apologized for running out of business cards and asking every German he met, “so when are you coming to Mankato?”
We knew from the beginning that Tech Comm was our connection. I just feel lucky that I was able to get to know each individual’s personality and really connect with them in such a unique learning experience.
On Friday morning we were received at the Semcon offices by Peter and Sissi. We learned about their documentation process and heard from Andrzej, an employee who studied languages at the University of Bath in England and now writes technical documentation for Semcon.
Peter and Andrzej made presentations on their technical documentation work at the Semcon offices in Munich.
We started out in Karlsruhe and then traveled by ICE from Stuttgart to Munich after our meetings at Daimler and TEKOM, and a short visit at k15t. (Fer had tweeted our visit to TEKOM and a start-up wiki-based services company from a block away saw the tweet and invited us over.)
Heading out of the Stuttgart station on ICE 691 to Munich, about a 2 hour 15 minute ride. On the left side track you see the TGV train. When I asked the French stewardess how fast the TGV travels, she said “In France 320 kms/hour, but in Germany, only 300 kms.”
Darin and Lacey make a presentation at HsKA
Students from MSU also presented on topics pertaining to our course, and give them credit, grades are already in and the semester is technically over. Still, as expected, everyone is doing their very best.
We were received by Herr Straub and his very knowledgeable team at Fellbach Daimler this morning. The S Class was revealed today, but we only saw the digital version.
Our motley crew at Daimler Fellbach after a very informative session with the GSP division. We did not, however, get to drive the newly announced S-class Mercedes.
Walking in Karlsruhe today we passed by an Aral gasoline station where a liter of gasoline was going for 1.57 Euros/liter. That pencils out to about 8.16 USD/gallon. No wonder everyone in this town either rides a bicycle or the strassenbahn (street car).
At the Aral station in Karlsruhe, gasoline goes for about 8.16 USD a gallon but university students pay no tuition.
My colleagues here at HsKA, Karlsruhe had told me about the close relationship they have with German industry, but until I heard the internship reports today of the 10 Bachelor students and had not realized the extent to which that was true. The students were all paid for the internships, most of the salaries were in the 600-700 Euro range (780-910 USD) a month. They were quite enthusiastic about their experiences and some may have the opportunity to interview for permanent positions at those same companies.
Dino, a HsKA student, reports on his internship at Netzsch.
Philip, an HsKA student who interned at Eurocopter in Donauworth, Germany, shows some of the documentation that he created on the job.