Our flights are finalized, our passports checked and ready, we are almost at the date of departure! I am so excited to finally be traveling and working in Germany with all the exciting opportunities and challenges that come with this experience. Having actual working days with the client is so exciting, as it is a rare opportunity to collaborate with people of such a different background, and hopefully be able to improve and expand upon our project with a renewed sense of direction. However, though there are many exciting elements to this trip, there are also quite a few preparatory actions and important notes to address before leaving.
First and foremost, the cultural norm differences between our two countries is not necessarily staggering, but it certainly is a lot to consider. For example, I am generally a punctual person, but the difference between the bus system here in Pittsburgh, and the general public transit in Germany is going to take some quick adjusting on my end. I am used to buses and trains here running at least a few minutes behind schedule, but all of the guidebooks and information given to us say that is not at all the case in Germany. Though at the outset this seems to be like a positive, my only worry is that being on time could potentially be a slightly more challenging task when arriving early seems necessary. This could affect anything from meetings to dinner plans, but I hope it will not be the largest challenge we face.
Another challenge we will face will be to limit the surprises we present in our information to our client, manroland Goss. Our main contact has been incredibly precise and informative as to what his desires are, which so far has been a very helpful upside. However, this could turn south if we end up straying away from what some of their key ideas as to help are. I do believe that finding the balance between providing our client everything they initially desire and helping them with new ideas that tackle a different set of issues will be our key challenge. However, I do think that everything we are working towards seems to be in rhythm with what has been asked, and so that fact, as well as the in country workshop days will hopefully help bridge whatever differences in opinion or cultural norms we may have.
My personal goals are more aligned with overcoming the potential challenges our group may face in working with a client abroad. The limited communication has so far not proved to be an immense problem, the physical communication and all interactions have been incredibly helpful, and I am convinced that our friends in Germany speak better English than I do! Aside from communication and timeliness, I hope to gain a better sense of personal responsibility from the international experience, as this is my first trip with the University abroad. Almost all of my previous international experiences have been purely vacations, and the only one that wasn’t was to Toronto, Canada. So it is safe to say a trip to Germany is a step up from that, and finding the equilibrium between learning and immersing myself in the culture but still keeping in mind the fact that the trip has select business goals will be a great challenge. That being said, this is such an amazing opportunity in the fact that both of those goals, learning and immersing myself in the new culture as well as conducting legitimate and important business meetings is possible with this program.
I am looking forward to finally touching down in Germany in under three weeks and all of the challenges and experiences that come with it! Our preparation and engagement with the project and the client make this trip a very special one, and I am so excited to finally meet the client face to face and immerse myself in the city and culture of Augsburg and Germany!