April 28, 2014
Stuttgart Study Abroad
Engineering is a profession that can be applied in all parts of the world, and some engineering students at the University of Calgary were able to experience a form of this internationalism.
Engineering is a profession that can be applied in all parts of the world, and some engineering students at the University of Calgary were able to experience a form of this internationalism. Eight Schulich students joined engineering students from all over the world on a six-week study abroad trip to the University of Stuttgart in Germany.
Participants in this summer program took 90 hours of German language courses and 42 hours of a liberal arts course of their choice, with optional excursions on the side.
“I chose this program because I was really interested in learning the culture and language,” says Nathaniel Mulder, fourth year Civil Engineering student.
Taking courses and learning German encompassed only a part of the education that the students received on the trip. The most valuable and unique lessons from this time in Germany came not from classes, but from cultural understanding.
“It’s really amazing how different cultures do things. Everything in Germany has to do with efficiency and punctuality.” Mulder goes on to explain, “One of the rudest things you can do in Germany is be late. Even a few minutes delay in the train system is unacceptable.”
Recognizing these cultural differences went beyond acquiring enough common etiquette to prevent committing any social faux pas as a foreigner. It built a foundation for cooperation in these engineering students that will help them succeed in a professional setting.
“For a career like engineering where you can work in Australia and Britain as easily as in Canada, you have to be able to work with the different thought process and different ways of approaching the problem that comes with each culture,” says Mulder.
Besides exposing students to the technical and cultural knowledge during their time in Germany, this trip also gave them the chance to discover their personal interests and re-evaluate their plans for the future by opening up the boundaries previously set by traditional education.
“Stuttgart challenged what I assumed what I wanted to do and where I wanted to be,” says Mulder. “Studying abroad broadened my horizons.”
The University of Stuttgart program is an annual trip open to all full-time engineering students and can be subsidized by the Schulich Student Activities Fund.