Hello my name is Gina, Oregon State University is my home Campus, I am attending Duale Hochschule Baden-Wüttemberg in Germany which is my host University. My first blog post can be accessed here.
When you think back to the beginning of the semester abroad, what are your biggest insights what has changed since then? When I first arrived in Germany, I was not sure how everyday tasks are done here in Europe, for example how to shop at the grocery store, the first thing that I noticed that is different is walking to and from the store. Walking is not the problem, I enjoy walking its carrying everything home from the store, you don’t want to buy too much at once and water is extremely heavy to carry. I usually bought six liters of water weekly, when I went to the store with it being Spring and Summer I drink a lot of water. Some things that differ between the store in the United States and here in Germany are you must put a coin in the shopping cart to use it, but you get it back when you’re done using the cart. This makes sense, because then people must put it back the shopping cart to get their money, this saves the store labor hours from collecting the shopping carts. My former roommate was kind enough to take me to the store before he went home. He showed me how it was done, the food is similar compared to the United States but the labels are in German, after all I am in Germany so I learned some main food words in German. Before I went to the store I made a list in English then translated it to German, so even grocery shopping was a learning experience for me. After we shopped for our items, we were about to check out with the cashier he said “you have to want it”, I didn’t know at first what he meant by that but when the cashier started, I knew what he meant, the cashier scans your items quickly, you must either put them in the cart quickly or you shopping bag because they do not have plastic bags in Germany and there is not enough time to properly bag your food that fast. I don’t want to smash anything especially the eggs and bread. He also showed me where all the stores were located here in Bad Mergentheim. It was nice to have someone show me what to do, even if it was just shopping at the grocery store. For me it was the everyday things that were the hardest to get used to. But now after three months I know how to shop at the grocery store. I think that when I go back home shopping will be weird for me. Shopping does require some planning because some stores are only open till 7 or 8 pm and most stores are close on Sundays, so most of the time I go to the grocery store after school around 5.
It will be different when I go back home and drive my car to the store. I won’t have to carry the water home, but that was a good workout just going to the store. I have drove in the last three months, but not grocery shopping. Me and my friend traveled to Ireland we rented a car and drove all over the country. In the four days, I drove 1444 kilometers, this was different because they drive on the opposite side of the road and the car. This took some time getting used to, especially the roundabouts there are a lot in Ireland, this is strange because instead of going right with the traffic you go left. I have also noticed that when I have been in other countries most of the roads are narrow compared to the United States. This can be scary when a passenger bus is headed toward you. I drove because it was a manual transmission and my friend doesn’t know how to drive a stick shift. We could have gotten an automatic transmission but they cost a lot more to rent automatics in Europe and we are thrifty students on a budget. We traveled to Dublin, Belfast and Killarney, when people asked us why are you here in Ireland we told them we are Business students in Germany at the DHBW and we were on a holiday. While visiting Ireland, we went to Jamieson Whiskey tour and the Guinness beer factory. The factory is nice and so is the beer, but to me the beer is the best in Germany. We learned how to say goodbye in Irish, its “slaan”. Now I can say goodbye in around five languages, we learned some from our fellow international students.
#Lost and Found
When I first got to Bad Mergentheim I didn’t know my way around town at all, I had to use my Google maps, but now I know where I am and how to get to almost anywhere in Bad Mergentheim. I downloaded the Deutsch Bahn app for the train and I took a couple trips by myself. I was nervous the first time thinking that I might get on the wrong train or miss my connection, but everything was fine I was worried for nothing. This experience and others that I am going to share with you has made me grow as a person, they have taught me to be more self-confident in my abilities, before this I would have never taken a trip by myself. I realized that I enjoyed it. I am glad that I took the step to try something new and study abroad at the DHBW. I have had such a great experience here in Germany. I wanted to also say how helpful and nice the staff is at the DHBW. Whenever I had an issue they were always willing to go the extra mile. At first I found it difficult to use the computers and printers because they are in German, but like everything else after a while I figured it out. One time I was trying to print a ticket for one of my travels but the printer didn’t work in the computer lab so the staff in the library helped me, I was so glad they were there for me.
During the first month, here Felix a fellow student invited a few of us to ride bikes to the Wickersham Castle in Baden Wurttemberg. It was a sunny Saturday in April, we rented the bicycles at a local shop for the day. The ride was nice, you could see fields, animals and streams. I hadn’t ridden a bike in a while so I wasn’t very fast but I kept up for the most part. When we arrived to town the trees were decorated with eggs for Easter holiday. It was early afternoon and we were so thirsty from the ride so we all decided that coffee ice cream would be yummy, it was but it was a small amount and we all wanted more. We toured the castle and walked around in all the beautifully decorated rooms, one of the things I remember is that the castle beds were made from straw. I thought that was different but after all mattresses were not invented yet. Another interesting thing was that the King was put on a horse to go downstairs because he was royalty and didn’t have to walk. No photos were allowed inside the castle but I took a lot outside, there was a garden with flowers, fruit trees and fountains, it was very beautiful. After the castle, we ate Italian food at a great restaurant in town, I had ravioli and a sour lemon drink, both were amazing probably because I was hungry and thirsty. They also gave us the best bread it was hot, garlicy and buttery. That was a great day with my friends in Germany.
I bought some Chinese food the other day, and my fortune cookie said Fehler, die wir Machen sind unsere besten Lehmeister, which in English means the mistakes we make are our best teachers. I know it was just a fortune cookie but I do believe that this statement is true. My mother always told me that I had to learn the hard way, she was accurate. The choices that I made in life might not have been the best options, but it has led me to this point in my life and I am very happy. I have learned a lot from my life choices and I wouldn’t change them for anything. This goes back to trying new things if you are afraid to make a mistake you might not even try. In school when I have an assignment and I get it back after it is graded, looking it over seeing my mistakes are the facts that I usually remember. So, when making mistakes I learn more. I don’t know anyone that likes mistakes. The thing that I feel is the most important when making mistakes is that we learn from them and don’t repeat them. At first I was unsure about studying abroad but it was a very good decision on my part and I am glad I came to the DHBW in Bad Mergentheim. I met a lot of nice people and had a lot of fun here in Germany.
#Communication with classmates
I was shy with my classmates when I first got here, I didn’t know exactly what to say to them, I didn’t want to offend anyone, but by learning about each other’s cultures and spending time together I became more comfortable talking with them. They have all been super nice to me and became my friends but I do miss my friends back home. Having friends here in Germany has helped me feel like I am not alone in a foreign country and also helped me learn about other people culture’s and adjust to my new surroundings. Now after three months I have friends all around the world. By learning why people act the way they do has helped me to understand the behaviors of others. I am not a traditional student because of my age, but that didn’t stop me from taking the initiative to study abroad. I have learned from my classmates and I hope that they have learned from me. I even attending a traditional German rally that was sponsored by the students. The students were nice to me and I had fun. We played games and drank beer, it was also a good chance to get to know more students. We have taken a few trips with the DHBW such as Berlin, Frankfurt and the Distelhausen brewery tour. This was nice to travel to other cities in Germany and a great way of getting to know each other better. I think it is so generous of the school to offer us such an experience for such a small fee. We spent a week in Berlin, we went to business to see how they operate, museums and a concentration camp. It was a lot of fun with my fellow classmates.
#What was your best moment in the past months?
It is hard to narrow it down to just one time there has been a lot of great experiences in the past months. I started going to church on Sundays and met some more great people. I took the train to Grünsfeld and they drove me to church in Würzburg with them. They treated me like a member of the family, I was invited to birthday parties, BBQ ‘s and festivals it was all new experiences and so much fun. They spoke German, Pilipino and some English so it helped me to learn more of the German language. My friends six sisters came from the Philippines thirty years ago and all married Germans and stayed in Germany. I am so lucky to have meet them and their loved ones, they showed me that we are all one family and it doesn’t matter what your nationality is. Even though I just met them a few months ago It felt like we were family this helped me to not be as home sick.
To what extent did the study abroad lead you to evolve personally/professionally? I feel that I have become more independent and self-reliant. Back home I would just get in my car and go where I wanted to but here in Germany I don’t have a car so I walk, take a train or a bus, this involves planning, navigation and making decisions. It is extremely convenient to jump on a train and go.
I will never forget my stay abroad because the time a few of us went to Stuttgart to a Frülingfest festival. This was just a few weeks after I came to Germany, we took the train to Stuttgart on a Saturday. It was a similar to a fair, except the huge tents that were set up for dancing, drinking listening to music. We showed up early to make sure we could get a seat. It was a fun experience watching everyone dance in their traditional outfits. We had a beer then walked around the fair, there were hundreds of people. Before I knew it, everyone was gone, I had lost them in the crowd, my phone didn’t work yet so I couldn’t call them. Needless to say, I was terrified I didn’t even have my train ticket because we bought a group ticket. I stayed in the same place for a while then took a deep breath and thought what should I do? I backtracked the same way that I came in and saw a friend of one of the classmates that I had just met, so I talked to him then he called my classmates and we met back at the train station. One of my fears is getting lost so this was hard for me. In that moment, I had to rely on my own intellects to get me out of this predicament, I couldn’t even ask for help because I speak English and not German. It was also a learning experience for me that we should stick together but also to have a plan in case someone gets lost.
On my last day at DHBW we had a final exam, I think they went well. I had to catch a train from Frankfurt to Madrid to visit before I go back home, I planned a few hours’ gap in between the train and the plane. It was a good thing because they had a fire on the train tracks and it delayed the train two hours. I was stressing out because I thought I would miss my plane. I caught the next train to Frankfurt but I was still worried about missing it, once I arrived at the airport I had one hour to check in and luggage and get on plane, this was cutting it too close for me. I am the type of person that is an hour early to stand in line, me and my daughter had concert tickets last year, the seats were assigned but I still felt more comfortable being early. I was sad to have to leave all my friends in Germany.
Exchange students can join one of our 3 month-long International Programs. Business students can choose the International Program in Business (IPB), which runs three times per year. For Engineering students, we offer the International Program in Engineering (IPE). The classes are taught entirely in English and you can earn up to 30 ECTS in each three-months program.
Exchange students join DHBW Mosbach students, so there is an intercultural mix of students in class. We keep the class size small: you get to know everyone very well and be one tight group during your stay here. Each program includes an Intensive German language and culture course. The programs also include excursions, cultural events and company visits, so you have a great time with plenty of fun and adventure.
The DHBW Exchange Scholarship is provided by the DHBW-Stiftung / DHBW Foundation. With the help of financial contributions from companies and private individuals, the DHBW Foundation’s goal is to strengthen the profile and expertise of the Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State University and to give further impetus to teaching and research. By awarding the DHBW Exchange Scholarship, the Foundation wants to support our efforts to further the university’s internationalization.
DHBW Mosbach has decided to award this scholarship to two students from Oregon State University, Cascades Campus, Bend coming to DHBW Mosbach, as well as two DHBW Mosbach students, spending one semester at OSU Bend.
More information on the DHBW Foundation can be found here.