Germany, an Overview – Phil Van Strien

So it seems like we just got back from Deutschland yesterday but its almost been a whole week already. All the craziness with returning to the states and getting ready for this fall semester has caused me to forget about this til now. 

Germany was amazing. That’s really all there is to it. The students and teachers we went with were an amazing group of people who made the trip that much greater. Living in Europe has really opened up some new perspectives on life for me.  When you take a minute to realize how many people use the public transportation system there in Berlin, it makes you realize how much gas we might be wasting here in the States. I’m sure if we had a system like that in some of the major cities and that so many people would be willing to use, we might be a lot more efficient with our fuel. 

Studying there was also a good experience. We got to take a lot of Calvin credits for a lot cheaper than we would have back in the states but its more than that. We had our eyes opened up to what East and West Berlin were like during the occupation as well as many other things from the wonderful Frau Loo. 

The weekend trips might have been my favorite part though. We got to see so many cool places in such a short amount of time it kind of seems like an overload at times. All of the castles and cathedrals continue to amaze me when i look back through at pictures. My favorite is still Köln though. The cathedral there was just awe-inspiring. It looked as if it was part of a mirage, It just didn’t seem to fit with all the short buildings around it. 

This trip was a great experience and well worth the time and money, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. 

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“How was Germany?” -Ryan Byma

Going to Germany this summer was one of the best experiences that I could have had. I really enjoyed being able to travel and see the world. I love all of the history that Europe has to offer. Being able to see some sights and places where important events in history took place was an amazing experience.

Before this trip, I had never been to Europe, so it was great to be able to experience the culture and break out of the “mold” of the US.  One of my goals as I get older and continue my education is to travel around that world and see everything that I can. God has given us an amazing creation, and I believe that one way we can thank him for that is to see everything that we can and praise him for how awesome he made the world.

Being able to take a class outside of a Calvin setting was an experience also. I felt like the class was much more relaxed. It was nice to be able to not be busy with homework all the time, as is the case during most of the semester at Calvin.

Finally, going on this trip gave me a chance to fulfill one of my dreams. I was able to take a three-day trip to Rome, Italy. I have wanted to go to Rome since I was young, and this trip gave me that opportunity.

Overall, it was a great experience that I will never forget. I had a great time and I hope that more students will be able to have the same experience that I had. 

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Berchtesgaden National Park by Ross Tenney


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Berchtesgaden National Park by Ross Tenney


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Konigsee- Brett Wassink Photo #3

Konigsee- Brett Wassink Photo #3

The beautiful late in the Austrian Alps by Berchtesgaden

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Elevator Speech by Jacob Epperly (30 secs or less)

The program in Germany was a very good experience. While a lot of the time was spent studying, being able to visit many of the major cities of a country with a fairly different culture was eye-opening. Living together in a hostel resulted in getting to know engineering peers better. Overall, just being given the opportunity to travel to a distant country and exploring the culture was astounding.

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Jacob Epperly- Photo 3

Jacob Epperly- Photo 3

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Jacob Epperly- Photo 2

Jacob Epperly- Photo 2

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Jacob Epperly- Photo 1

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“Hey Austin Kearby, How was Germany? You have 1-3 minutes. Go!”

My trip to Germany was a valuable experience that I will not forget soon. One thing that I would change is the amount of time that I spent interacting with Germans and learning about their culture from them. I feel like I spent a lot of time seeing monuments and hearing about the culture and history of the people of Germany from professors and teachers but not observing it in the everyday lives of Germans. In some ways, it was unrealistic to build personal relationships with Germans since we were taking classes and traveling and only in Germany for 6 weeks, but that would have been my one addition to the trip.

However, the positives of the trip definitely outweighed any regrets. I loved going to the Heidelberg Castle and looking out over the city from its walls. I won’t forget the 530 steps to the top of the Koln Cathedral. The Hertha BSC game in the Olympic Stadium was one of the best parts of the trip, and I’m so happy we lived here in Berlin. There is so much history evident around Berlin in the East Side Gallery, Checkpoint Charlie, and the Reichstag to name a few. The last week held memories of its own. Neuschwanstein Castle was gorgeous and I thoroughly enjoyed reconnecting with German family friends in Lauben (small town in Bavaria). Overall, I am so happy that I went to Germany!

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