I am now 6 months into my study abroad trip through the IGSEP: Two Steps Ahead, and this is my second blog post. To recap from my first blog post, after I completed the language course in Freiburg, I then moved about an hour away in the Stuttgart area to a town called Esslingen. This is where the Hochschule Esslingen is which is the school where I will be taking classes at. Jump a couple months later, I have gotten settled into Esslingen, and I’ve met other international students. Here is the apartment I lived in.
After a couple months upon arriving, I would say that the “specialness” of being in Europe wore off, and it felt less like a fun vacation and blended more into everyday living. The classes are super hard because, through my program, instead of taking normal, easier classes on a trip abroad like most people would, I am taking hard engineering classes. Not just normal engineering classes though, I am taking a couple taught in the German language right alongside normal German students.
To say the least, it was the hardest semester of my life, but I made it through and had fun along the way. We went to places like Budapest, Prague, Vienna, Bratislava, and more. And around midway through the semester in May, my family came to visit, and we went to Mallorca and Barcelona in Spain and saw a Red Hot Chilli Peppers concert, and then made the trip back to Germany. My dad and I had the unique opportunity to drive on the legendary Nurburgring. Known as the “Green Hell”, it’s one of the most difficult race tracks in the world, and most auto manufacturers use it to test the performance of their upcoming sports cars.
After that, we made the long drive to Munich and stopped in Esslingen on the way there, and I was able to show them around a little bit. We ended the trip in Munich drinking beers at a nice beer garden. During my studies at Esslingen, I also had the challenge of applying for an internship here in Germany. Long story short, after many applications and interviews (in German), I finally got a job offer at my dream company, BMW, in Munich. After my last exam in July, I packed up all my stuff and moved into my new flat in Munich. I made good friends with my roommates and started work the next week. As I am writing this, Oktoberfest is currently going on (known as “wies’n” to most Germans), and I have already been a couple of times (super fun, 10/10 recommend).
One other thing that is a major shock to me is the weather. Being someone who was born and raised in the Alabama heat, I was not expecting to be able to wear jeans and a hoodie in August. For the past week in mid-September, the highs have been around 50-60, and the lows in the 30-40s. This is about what I would expect in Winter in Alabama. But work is also going well. I take the U-Bahn (subway system) to work every day, and it is also very common to work “mobil” a couple of times per week. I have taken advantage of this, and some friends and I went to Hamburg for a weekend (7-hour train ride).
I was able to leave on Friday morning and come back on Monday while working on the train. I also get to drive pretty often to a nearby BMW plant for work. Let’s just say getting to drive a brand new 6 series BMW company car on the speed limit-less Autobahn is a very fun experience. Overall, I’m very happy with my experience abroad. I am looking forward to the Christmas markets in Munich starting in November/December. It’s hard to believe that I only have three more months left, but I think it will be a very bittersweet feeling going back home.