A nursing student on the STEM program in Germany

This story begins when I found out that SBCC offered a STEM study abroad program in the summer of 2018 in Germany…

Lahla Sison

Before I write about the trip, I would like to share a little bit about myself: I am a current student at SBCC entering my second year. I am majoring in nursing. Nursing is not directly related to the STEM program, but who cares anyways, right?! There are many students with different majors on this program traveling with me, varying from communications, history, to aerospace engineering, so one should not be discouraged if their major is not directly related to the program. 

SBCC Germany 2018
Flying over the Atlantic Ocean
I have been looking into attending this program since last year. Initially, I felt super-stoked and motivated which in turn helped with going through the processes, which are not as hard as one may think. Because I planned it pretty far in advance, I was able to slowly go through the details and requirements to be able to come. 

I never ventured very far from home before, so I was very excited to travel away from the United States. I was looking forward to experiencing a whole new world, while being enveloped in foreign cultures. 

Hotel Views
However, leaving LAX was a little nerve-racking, probably because the last time I was on a plane I jumped out of it (skydiving). To my surprise, the boarding was a lot simpler than expected. I chose to only bring carry-on items, which I would highly recommend to others!! But if you can’t fit all your needs into carry-on, checking bags did not seem to be so tough to deal with either. I rode on the plane to Germany with a good chunk of our group and that made the travel a lot more fun... or bearable might be a better expression.

Realizing the saying “shared pain is half the pain” the trip was long, but I was able to make the best of it as I got to know the other classmates. We shared the excitement for the adventure that lay ahead of us from leaving LAX, to the one stop in Dublin, Ireland, until arriving at our destination in Berlin.
The German Parliament
After enduring the 13-hour flight, I arrived at the hotel at night. I was immediately in awe of the beautiful architecture of the city. Luckily for me, the hotel was really close to many food places as well as a train station. I’ve been finding food here that is relatively cheap and everything seems to just taste better- like ketchup and mayonnaise. McDonald’s is a place I would usually not go to in the US, but out here it seems a lot nicer, almost like a delicacy: a royale-with-cheese-kind of thing. 

The next day was beautiful and sunny and my group kicked off the adventure with a visit to the German Parliament. Before reaching Parliament, I passed a canal that runs throughout the city and visited remaining pieces of the original Berlin Wall. I learned that many buildings in Berlin that were once separated by the wall have now been connected by bridges to represent their unity, which I thought was very moving.

Once I reached Parliament, I found that it is a work of art in itself. This renaissance-themed building is one of Berlin’s most important buildings, and from the top of the building we were able to get a breathtaking view of the city and the Reichstag Dome. This building was badly damaged during the war but, like many other buildings and areas that were destroyed, the country rebuilt and overcame the destruction with its beauty.  
Bessy II at Humboldt University

In the two days following, the group visited the prestigious Humboldt University where I enjoyed our own private tour of the Adelshof campus. I learned a lot about the history of the University including that Albert Einstein attended there! I visited the synchrotron as well as the wind tunnels used by engineers to design aircrafts. 

Berlin Wall Memorial
The day after, I visited one of Berlin’s last remaining pieces of the original Berlin Wall that conveyed the struggle the citizens of that time endured. The tour guide was extremely insightful and told us a few stories of those who died trying to cross the wall in search of a better life. I was very surprised to learn that the wall was only taken down about 29 years ago. 
Volkswagen Factory
Next, the program let me voyage beyond the Berlin wall and to Dresden, where I visited the Volkswagen Transparent Factory. I saw where the cars were manufactured and had a private group tour of the factory. The factory was huge, and I learned a lot about the company’s history which dates back to 1932. 

Afterwards, we walked around Dresden and went to The Zwinger which is my favorite place so far. The Zwinger is a museum complex that is located in the historic heart of the city and is home to some of Germany’s most expensive porcelain and some of the world’s most important paintings. Ironically, Dresden was the most bombed city in Germany, but yet to me it was the most beautiful. If you find yourself in the area I would highly recommend taking a visit here. 
The Zwinger

On a side note, I used to think that I would live in California my whole life, but after this trip, I discovered that the grass is definitely greener on the other side and now I’m wondering if I’ll live in Germany someday…

Next the group will venture to Amsterdam, Frankfurt, and Munich for the remainder of the trip. 

SBCC Germany 2018
Another view of the German Parliament
Follow #SBCCGermany2018 on Instagram for photos from the group