I’ve been here for a little more than a week and I feel as though I could ramble on for ages. My first impression of Stuttgart was from above as my plane made its approach in the dark. I couldn’t see much, some lights of course, but not that and very few rose up from the ground. I could have almost mistaken it for a sprawling suburb. This impression carried over into the next day as I hurried after my host family in a sleep-deprived haze while they tried to introduce me to their hometown. Honestly, it wasn’t until several days later when I was given my transit pass and had to navigate the city on my own that I began to comprehend my surroundings. Stuttgart does not have the size and grandeur of New York or Paris or London or Berlin. Nor does it have the quaint medieval architecture that sprawls in various forms through Europe. Stuttgart was severely damaged during the war and as a result, its modern buildings lining the streets reflect the city’s place in Germany and in Europe as the seat of automotive manufacturing. If you look at the Porsche logo you will see in the center a black horse on a yellow background. And just above that, lightly etched: Stuttgart. Stuttgart was built in a valley and once used to raise horses, to prevent enemies from observing the proceedings. Now, Stuttgart fittingly produces horsepower, housing the headquarters of Porsche and Mercedes-Benz flanked by plants for Audi, Bosch, and other car and car part manufacturers. The automotive industry was honestly the first thing I understood here. From the cars on the streets to the logos on jackets and the names on buildings, it was easy to understand the automotive companies provide life to southwest Germany. Rather unfortunate that the first thing I understood wasn’t the transit system or the way restaurants work, but to be fair there is so much to absorb that I scarcely knew where to begin. Which, if you’re wondering, is why I’m writing about cars and not castles. I’ll save the later for next time.
It’s been a while but I have some exciting updates! After months of forms, waiting, more forms, tons of web research, and three thousand signatures, I’ll be spending this summer in Stuttgart, Germany! I may have exaggerated the process a little bit, it’s just hard to be patient when you’re excited. Anyway, Stuttgart is in southern Germany and I will be heading out in only a little over a week, which is crazy to think about.
In Stuttgart, I will be taking intensive German classes to build on my two semesters here at OU, as well as a course on international business. The international business class looks particularly interesting since it includes expeditions. Stuttgart is known as the home of the automobile and houses the headquarters of Porsche and Mercedes-Benz. To my understanding, my business class will analyze the operations of these companies and take field trips to their headquarters. Classes are every day but we get out early on Fridays which means it will be easy to explore Stuttgart and the surrounding areas. I am going as an exchange student through the University of Stuttgart and they are placing me with a host family for the duration of my stay. I’ve emailed them a little bit to arrange a few details, but I’m excited to get to know them this summer. I will be the fifth exchange student they’ve hosted but the first from the United States.
A major reason that I came to OU was the availability and accessibility of study abroad programs, but now that it’s coming up, I can’t help but be a little nervous. I’ve never left the States before and spending weeks by myself in a different country is a little daunting. Fortunately, I will have my host family and the University of Stuttgart to help me adapt and I can’t wait to overcome my trepidations and enjoy the first of many adventures to come!