Closing Thoughts

Closing Thoughts

When we got on the plane to head home, we were all in denial that we were actually going to be separated from each other in less than 12 hours. We had all shared so much laughter and thrills in the past two weeks, and I know I could have stayed much longer (which says something about the group, because getting along with that many people is not guaranteed.) I was extremely thankful for how awesome and fun everyone was, and I am sure we will continue to see a lot more of each other this fall when we head back to Tech.

In addition to the personal relationships we all developed, I think I can speak for the group when I say that the cultural experience of the trip was quite an eye-opener. Learning to get around in a foreign country and communicating with people across a language barrier is a valuable skill, and it made me realize how I take our American culture for granted. Considering I had difficulties in foreign countries in which people spoke my language to some degree (not to mention I travelled with over 20 friends), I cannot imagine what exchange students go through when coming to study at a school like Virginia Tech. These two weeks, if nothing else, gave me a tremendous appreciation for the courage and confidence it must require to study abroad for an entire year. At the same time, however, it gave me the desire to further pursue experiences abroad. If I am somehow able to afford it and it can somehow fit within my academic program, I would love to study (or co-op) abroad for an entire semester.

In addition to the cultural significance of the trip, I learned a lot about engineering. I learned many names, dates, and facts about Gothic architecture, art, and other marvels we encountered. More significantly, I saw people from extremely diverse backgrounds working together for companies that rely on the ability to meet the needs of customers and clients all over the world. Some of the companies used English, and some used the language of the country they were located in. This trip showed me what a “global engineer” truly is, as well as why it is important to become one. Our world is quickly becoming more connected, and whether or not I end up working for an international company, my work will likely influence people outside my sphere of familiarity and I will probably be working with people different than myself. An ability to interact with other people and understand cultures other than my own will be crucial skills to develop over the next few years if I want to be a desirable future employee (as well as an enjoyable person to work with.)

I took a lot away from this experience, and it’s hard to communicate all that I learned from a short (albeit wordy) blog. It suffices to say, however, that this was an amazing experience that wetted my appetite for more international experience, and I would highly suggest this program to any engineering freshmen who are considering it!