Written by: Antonio Ortoll
It would be extremely difficult to resume my study abroad experience in one page. However, there were a few things that really changed the way in which I originally perceived the German culture. One of them would be the differences between Bavaria, and the rest of Germany. Germany is advertised to tourists in a very distinctive way. As a tourist, I expected to see most German people wearing a tracht at festivals, eating oversized pretzels, and drinking large amounts of beer. While this was true for Munich, places like Berlin were not as traditional in that aspect. In fact, not only the overall costumes were different, but also, there was a bit of a language barrier between Germans from Berlin and Munich. When our program director communicated to waitresses and waiters at restaurants in Berlin, a few things had to be repeated or clarified.
Aside from that, I had the opportunity to interact with many locals. And for the first time, I experienced a low-context culture, where communication is usually taken at face value. Throughout my life, I have lived among cultures where non-verbal cues are subject to multiple interpretations. Learning about these differences will help me cope well in multinational businesses in which I intend to work in the future. Along with that, it was interesting to learn about their views on customer satisfaction. I had always believed that most people had the same customer service expectations, regardless of what part of the world they were from. I was wrong, Germans don’t value or identify with a charismatic server, but instead, they expect efficiency and perfection.
This sense of efficiency and perfection is very-well projected and the way German cities are constructed and organized. The public transportation is simple to use and extremely punctual for departures and arrivals. This punctuality in transportation, always allowed us to visit many places in one day, despite the fact that we were travelling long distances. Throughout the month, I had the opportunity to visit many holocaust monuments, which transported me back to times of political conflict and hardship. And also, I visited King Ludwig’s castles that transported me back in time just by looking at their well-constructed medieval structure. Every day spent in Germany was unique and exceptional. Travelling abroad has definitely changed my outlook on life. I’m very grateful to have been welcomed to be part of this incredible program. I couldn’t have asked for more.