Changed but Still the Same

Finals are finally over and my stay in Bochum, Germany has almost concluded.

On Monday, 11JUN18, I took two exams: German and Heat Transfer. We had a brief review session of German from 0830 to 0900 and my German exam lasted from 0900 to 1200. During the exam, I was confident that I understood most of the concepts but I struggled a bit with the reading comprehension. I also took as much time as I could reviewing my answers and ensuring that they were correct. Afterwards, I went to IC, the engineering building, in Ruhr’s campus to eat some food from the cafeteria and study for my Heat Transfer exam at 1400. When the exam finally started, I was relieved to have found that the two problems on the exam were also two problems that I reviewed from the textbook in the days prior. I spent the next three hours completing these problems and checking my answers to ensure that I wrote the correct answers and that I would get the best grade possible. When I returned home, it was 1730.

Then, I ate dinner and started to study for my Fluid Mechanics exam the next day on 12JUN18. I stayed up late until 0100 with a few friends to study for this exam and clarify any misconceptions I had. However, I wish I studied this course more in the weeks prior because I did not fully understand some of the concepts as I was studying. Also, staying up late is never a good idea for doing well in a course as I learned from my past experiences during freshman year.

When I started the exam at 1400 after a fluid mechanics lecture in the morning the next day, I was somewhat prepared because the lecture discussed practice questions for the exam. However, the last question was quite challenging and I spent two hours devising a solution to the problem. At the end, I was still unsure whether I answered it correctly. Nevertheless, I was relieved to have finally finished all of my academic work at Bochum as I always am at the end of the term in Drexel.

That day, I spent the remainder of my time watching my current favorite show, Homeland, that deals with a intelligence officer responding to national security issues. The next day, I went to the Deutsches-Bergbau Museum where I saw the mining origins of Bochum. Unfortunately, we had to wait an hour to see the tour of the actual mine 10 meters down which was quite underwhelming but also interesting. As we walked through the mine (Figure 1 and Figure 2), we saw a transition from early mining technology to modern mining technology which made me wonder how much of the mining process will become automated in the next 10-20 years.

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Figure 1: Modern mining technology. Is it a a hydraulic system operated by water?

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Figure 2: Modern mining machine used to create tunnels in a mine. I wonder how long it must have taken to transport the machine parts underground and construct the actual machine.

At 1700, I arrived home and continued to relax even more and cleaned the bathroom on 14JUN18. This weekend, I will be traveling to Vilnius, Lithuania which is Lithuania’s capital and I am definitely excited to see another Eastern European country. However, I did not want to go anywhere else during my week break off from 13JUN18 to 20JUN18 since I am honestly tired and cannot wait to return home. I enjoyed my time here but I would love to go back to what I am familiar with.

In that regard, I am still the same person as I was before the trip but I have definitely changed somewhat. I am looking forward to becoming a better contributor member in my parents house since I live with them. During this program, I realized that I am too dependent on them and I have unfairly contributed to the maintenance of the house even when I have received and taken so much from them. After cleaning the bathroom in my flat twice, I hope to clean a part of my parents house in Philadelphia every weekend such as the basement bathroom or 2nd floor bathroom so that my dad does not have to clean everything on his own. After cooking curry chicken and vegetables here, I will also look forward to cooking at least one item every week or every other week so my mom does not have to cook our household food on her own. I have always made the excuse that I had homework to do which is why I never bothered to learn essential cooking and cleaning skills, or experience new cultures or people. Through my steady approach, I believe that I can slowly acquire these skills and experiences.

Additionally, I will also be better about paraphrasing someone else’s work in written reports rather than copying and pasting their direct quotes without further analyzation. Furthermore, I will be open to traveling to new places once in a while but I will still be against going to clubs since I find them uninteresting. Also, I will try not to hoard as many items within my bookbag because I do not want to have a damaged back when I am older. I decided this after my intervention in Munich which was noted in my blog post “A Break and Trek through Western and Eastern Europe” .

Regarding my reflections, one of the most unforgettable parts of my experience was the company of my two Irish and Italian roommates. Through them, I learned about their amazing cultures, mannerisms, and experiences which I will hopefully remember in the years ahead. I enjoyed hearing about my Irish roommate’s experiences in his courses, in high school and college, and his interests in a wide array of TV shows and media. I also enjoyed my Senegalese-Italian roommate’s vegetarian food and cooking, his fashionablity, and discussions about his life in Italy. From them, I heard advice on how it was important to take breaks from academic activities once in a while which is advice I followed especially considering the time I dedicate to school. This program helped me feel more relaxed and more willing to do activities outside of school. I hope that at Drexel, I will dedicate a few hours every two or so weeks doing an activity that I will enjoy.

Additionally, I may forget these conversations in the years ahead but I will never forget them, the meaning these conversations had for me, and my first experience really interacting with individuals abroad. Although I am bad at staying in touch with people, I hope to stay in touch with them. I also hope that years from now, I can reconnect with my roommates and meet for a few days in some foreign country and hear about the current situation of their lives.

My advice to prospective students interested in the Bochum program is to not only sleep well everyday but to also explore Europe during your ten week stay there. Indeed, exploring these locations should supplement your studies. One of my regrets as I write this was that I was hesitant for the first few weeks in visiting a new place every week because I use the weekend as a time to relax and finish the work that was assigned to me during the week. In retrospect, I believe that I exaggerated to myself how much work I had when I could have had set time aside to travel elsewhere and view cultural attractions.

Additionally, my advice to any for any first generation and immigrant college students is to save money from your co-op experiences so that you can live securely in your study abroad location. That way, you are prepared for traveling and any emergencies that arise. Also, be sure to stay in touch with your parents because they will be worrying about you and it is important to reassure them and keep them aware of how you are.  In my case, my parents did not have any college or study abroad experiences so me attending this program was completely new to them. I made sure to call them once a week, send travel photos to them, and keep them updated of my personal adventures or other issues.

Another important advice is to try to attend Erasmus (a government program for European Union students to travel and study in other countries) events conducted by students to meet other international students. I regrettably did not try to meet that many international students other than my roommates since I was used to being with Drexel people within my program and also because I am more of an introverted person. I think it may have also been because I did not want to force myself to attend these events if I was uninterested (which was all the time) and because I felt that I had to complete my work first. However, even after completing work, more work accumulated and I never real made the time for socializing. I also am not totally comfortable with attending parties and sitting around just talking and doing nothing else. I have to have an objective in nearly everything I do but I still cannot see the objectives of parties within my head. However, it is important for me to step outside of my comfort zone and attend such events when I am young. This will help me acquire new experiences to change my worldviews because I feel that I am becoming more resistant to change as I grow older.

Overall, I enjoyed my experience in Bochum and I have gained important life skills. However, I should have made greater efforts to meet international students during my time here. Nevertheless, at Drexel, I will continue to study for my courses in a smart way, spend more time taking breaks, contribute more to my home’s maintenance, gain new life skills, attempt to meet and keep in touch with certain individuals, and perhaps explore new locations and experiences once in a while. This program motivated me to pursue these objectives and I am forever grateful to have had this opportunity.

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