The End

I hope you’ve all enjoyed this blog! Thank you for taking the time to go through it. This was truly an experience of a lifetime. I’m very happy I decided to go through with it.

If you are considering the program, or have any questions about this trip or other travels, feel free to reach out on my student email. I certainly don’t mind meeting up and helping out any way I can. I have another road trip through Europe and one in California on my Instagram (@khrumster) if you are curious about those as well.

Thank you again, and safe travels 😀



For our final free weekend, we wanted to take it easy. What better location to relax than a lake in Italy, so we decided on Lago di Garda (northwest of Milan). Our Airbnb was on the southern end in Desenzano del Garda. We arrived around 7pm I believe. Once we settled in, we headed out to explore and find dinner. We walked for a distance until we settled on a restaurant with beautiful outdoor seating by the water. We were very lucky to get a table right on the edge!!! It was an amazing dinner, the best we had our entire stay actually. Afterward, we met with the others at the Rock Cafe close by and enjoyed the music for a few hours.

The next day we had a long breakfast, studied for a few hours for our finals, then visited the beach around 1. The beach was fun but rather empty, we expected more people considering we were told this beach was popular. Once we settled down, a swan randomly appeared, we’re besties now, be jealous.

Once we headed home we noticed there wasn’t a soul on the streets and all the shops were closed. We learned Italians take a long break mid-day and go nap, so we really didn’t have much to do during this 2-3 hour gap.

The boys knew I wasn’t into clubbing and so they planned for us go to a nice beach lounge. We looked up pictures and the place looked great. When we arrived later that night, the first issue we came across was the entrance fee; it was 20 euro just to WALK in. We thought this was a bit crazy for a lounge so we looked around and found another lounge down the street. It wasn’t a nice atmosphere. At this point, we got a little desperate and decided to go 007 and sneak in. We started walking along the beach trying to sneak in from there; nope, a guard was watching that post. We walked around the area trying to find an opening, nothing. Once we looped around we checked the same spot, THE GUARD WAS GONE. Through the beach we went, we jumped the couches and made past security 😀 . At this point, we were psyched so we explored the area. The outside areas were very crowded so we checked the one structure there to see what they had. Now, this is where things get interesting… we walk in and it’s the craziest club my friends have ever seen; way too much going on, you couldn’t hear yourself think from the music. I tried dancing for all of 30 min maybe then decided I needed to leave, I didn’t want to be in that kind of atmosphere. So I picked up and left, the rest of my group stayed to party. I drove home and walked around the town at night on my own for a bit before calling it in. The chart you see here is one I created in our Flip chart visualization class on our experience, which I am VERY proud of thank you very much.

THE NEXT DAY we headed to Serminione (pictured above, STUNNING, one of my favorite pics) after breakfast, This time we visited the beach earlier there; thankfully there was some life this time. This area was more active in general though because of its tourism; the town we were staying in is more local it seemed. The empty streets we experienced in our town mid-day wasn’t an issue here. It was a very beautiful area. We ended up going home only to change and come back for dinner actually. To our luck, there was a festival going on near the square with traditional music. I talked to the performers afterward to get their names but sadly couldn’t find them or their band online that night 🙁 . The rest of the night was essentially exploring the area and dinner. Enjoy the photos!

Mercedes Bus Manufacturing and Ouvrage Four-à-Chaux

So this manufacturing plant in Mannheim, Germany built only buses. It was interesting to see a product-oriented plant rather than a process-oriented one and how they function. Since every bus is unique, they can’t build on them on a conventional assembly line. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about visiting a bus plant, but it was great and certainly shows you a different perspective of manufacturing.

Next, we visited a WWII trench fortress in Lembach, France. Kinda creepy, but reaaaally interesting. I enjoy war history so this was a treat to see how soldiers lived in these bunkers for months. I was taken back by the technology in this facility; for its time, it’s very impressive and well thought out. One example, the 70-ton cannons above the fort can be lifted by one person with the mechanical mechanism in place, crazy right?

Neuschwanstein Castle

On our way out of Munich, we stopped by Neuschwanstein Castle. This is the castle Disney modeled theirs off of. It’s the most modern castle built (the late 1800s), you could certainly see how modern it was in the tour. No pictures were allowed inside, sorry. This castle belonged to King Ludwig II, who only slept here for 11 nights might I add… yes, stupid I know. The yellow castle belonged to his father; he built his higher than so he could look down at his dad; great son. Enjoy the views.


Munich was certainly one of the nicest cities. The atmosphere of this city is much nicer than Berlin I think; it’s much more scenic, less industrial. We started the day exploring on our own. Naturally, the Marienplatz was our first destination. The area was busier than I remember during my last visit. We later learned it was the city’s 100th birthday and they were setting up for concerts and other shows later that night.

After lunch, we began our guided tour through the city. Our guide was excellent; the city certainly has its share of rich history. One very interesting point I thought was this art piece (the golden walkway) located on a small alleyway near the main square. This alley ran between two parallel streets. On one side was a memorial of the first Nazi protestors that were killed. The act was seen as heroic by the Nazis and so it became an expectation of people to salute the memorial to show their support. There were soldiers guarding the memorial 24/7, so if someone didn’t salute, they were allowed to take action. The idea behind the art piece represents the path locals took to avoid interaction with Nazi soldiers. If you didn’t pass the memorial, the soldiers wouldn’t know your political stance essentially.

The tour continued through some beautiful gardens of the city. This I think is the best part about Munich; its much more green than other cities of similar size in Germany. The central park, for example, is massive. Unfortunately, I didn’t take photos here, but if you google “beer garden central park Munich“, you’ll get an idea of what I’m talking about. You’ll also notice online there are pictures of people surfing; yes this is still at this park. These areas were actually specifically designed so that the water flow would produce a wave people could surf. It was really cool to see. We finished our tour by heading to the Hofbrau Brewery for dinner. I won’t lie to you, I didn’t enjoy my time here very much. I wasn’t feeling well to begin with, and the waiters gave me a hard time since I didn’t order a beer; it was frustrating. The atmosphere made me uncomfortable and unwelcomed. I missed the concerts later that night since I wasn’t feeling well.


The next day we headed to the Deutsches Museum, is the world’s largest museum of science and technology. There is far too much to go through here. Any area of technology you can imagine was displayed here in some way; steel production, marine navigation, war machines, astronomy, clean energy, everything. It was very nerdy I loved it 😀 .

NOW.. comes what I’ve been waiting for, BMW Welt. BUT BEFORE, we visited the Olympic Tower in the park adjacent to the showroom. We took the elevator up to see a beautiful view of the city. Not much to explain there, enjoy the photos.

^^^ UML GANG ^^^

After we headed to BMW Welt to explore. We were only given 30 minutes which forces you to rush a little, but it is essentially just a big showroom so there isn’t much to do. The most exciting piece was seeing the M8 Concept. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a concept car in person before so this was a treat.











Black Forest Hike

Our hike started in Bad Wildbad, Germany, a small town not far from Pforzheim. We took the gondola ride up and began the journey. Our mission: to find the sweet delicious german pancakes served somewhere deep in the woods; and so we marched. The hike started up high on a catwalk, which I was not a fan of since I’m afraid of heights. My friends would constantly push me towards the edge to hear me freak out, no bueno. It was still a very enjoyable walk. Eventually, we reached a tower that we climbed for a good view of the region.

Finally, we were back on level ground, no more catwalk! We continued our search for pancakes. After what seemed like an eternity (probably only an hour), we reached THE PANCAKE HOUSE. It was a beautiful secluded place with great food. We sat here for some time and enjoyed the area and of course, pancakes. After lunch we walked to a small pond then took a detour back to the gondola. Since I had the map, and most of the group scurried away in a rush to get home, only a small number of us took this detour and enjoyed the view, we got home later of course, but it was well worth the view and the good company.


For the second free weekend, we headed to Prague, Czech Republic. Something I should mention, we rented VW golfs but they were out, so they gave us BMWs and Audis. Needless to say, the autobahn was a blast with these cars; fastest I’ve ever driven 😀 . Back to the city, we found a beautiful Airbnb near the center very close to public transit. It was very easy to get around with a day pass for the system (which was only $5 so a must if you visit). We really just walked around and enjoyed the views. There were only a few attractions we needed to see, the rest was just free roaming. It’s a beautiful city but I don’t see a reason to stay more than a weekend. We visited the famous Prague Castle, the Charles Bridge, the John Lennon Wall, and the Old Town Square where the clock tower was, which was under construction, unfortunately, but we certainly felt we had seen everything important. The food here is nothing special, I wouldn’t say there’s something you desperately need to try. Nightlife is crazy I’ve been told, a group of us went out to party every night, others walked around and enjoyed the atmosphere (myself included). The scenery speaks for this city, I don’t have much else to say, so enjoy the photos.

Mercedes Manufacturing and Black Forest Museum

This Mercedes plant was located in Rastatt, Germany. It was actually the plant our professor, Dr. Weyer, directed for some time. We understood the general flow of a production plant by now, and this wasn’t significantly different. From an outsiders’ perspective, all the plants seem to work the same way. When you see the volume Mercedes handles and considering they have their reach into more than just commercial vehicles, it was clear why Dr. Weyer preferred them over other auto-makers; I certainly respected the brand much more after these experiences. One thing I did notice is the level of automation at this plant; there is noticeably less human interaction compared to Audi and Volkswagon. The Mercedes F1 car pictured was in the lobby before entering the plant.










After the factory tour, we headed to Gutach, Germany to visit the Black Forest Museum. This was essentially a glimpse into how farmers lived in the 1600s. The building pictured above was built during that time; a lot of interesting technology they had considering the era. The farmer’s society was quite sexist at the time; that’s mainly what I got out of this tour. Also, we tried the famous Black Forest cake in THE BLACK FOREST. Wasn’t that special though, don’t know what all the hype is. What else, we saw some cows, chickens, some very rude geese, and we churned our own butter which was.. interesting.

Before leaving we were surprised with an Alpine Coaster!! If you don’t know what that is, just google it. It was a BLAST! I’ve never been on something like that. There’s a camera that snatches a photo of you on the straight to catch your speed. My first run wasn’t so hot, but my second run, let me tell ya. I went 43 km/h losing only to Dr. Weyer’s son, Tom, whose kinda crazy… so essentially I won.


Free weekend! First up: Innsbruck, Austria! We packed our bags, rented a car, and headed out for the 5-hour drive right after our last class on Friday. I was psyched to see the Alps again and be able to do a few hikes. To our surprise, the night we arrived happened to be “The Night of Dancing”. We didn’t really know what the celebration was for, but we didn’t care! The city was so alive with concerts and people dancing everywhere; we had a great time.

The next day we headed up to the mountain. It was 9 euros to go half way up and another 26 for the summit. Most of the group only paid the 9. I almost stayed back myself, then last minute I changed my mind and decided to pay the 26; WELL worth it. The summit had such a mystic atmosphere with the dense fog moving around in pockets. I preferred this to a clear sky actually, makes for a different experience. We explored around the summit for some time and enjoyed the crisp cool air.

On our way down we visited the Zoo, though at this point, it was pouring rain. We already had access to it with our tickets, so we tried to make the most of it. There were barely any animals out, though we did see a Bobcats up close, most notably.

Once back in the city we changed and went out to find some dinner. We saw something being set up in the center of town earlier, so we decided to check it out. It turned out to be a stage for pole vaulting and long jumping; super cool! I have a few videos but they are too long. It seemed like we visited to this city on the perfect weekend; there was always something to do we had such a great time in Innsbruck, highly recommended.

Time to leave! We checked out and headed for the Olympic Ski Jump before leaving the city. Luckily, we made it to see the last few jumpers take flight; what a view! Heading back to Pforzheim we stopped by a rest stop we had seen on the way for some lunch. There was a pond at the bottom of the mountainside, where we spontaneously decided to go for a quick dive 😀 !


To start the day, we visited the European Parliment just outside of Strasburg, France. I honestly had no idea what to expect. I didn’t think I would find it that interesting, but we really enjoyed our time here. We sat in on a conference in those big halls housing all representatives from the EU. The meeting we witnessed was not a full house but still a very interesting experience. They have translators for 21 languages translating live if I remember correctly, so we were able to follow what each representative was saying. We were only at the meeting for 30 minutes but could have easily stayed for hours listening to them, it was great. Off to the city center.

I wasn’t sure what to expect for Strasburg, but I’m very glad this was one of our day trips. Since it sits right on the border, you can definitely see influences in the architecture and culture from both regions. Upon arrival, we had some free time for lunch. I stuck with Prof. Matthias and Karoline (the two organizers of EMIG); boy did that pay off. They took us to the most beautiful part of Strasburg called Petite France for lunch. Great food, great view, great company!



After lunch, we explored the cathedral in the center. The amount of detail you can see in its architecture is crazy; you appreciate the time and effort it took to build something like this. The interior was much the same, plenty of detail to explore. The one significant piece I will note is the organ.. it was HUGE, and how the HELL was it hanging off like that, crazy, blew my mind. Anyways, we kept moving and met up with a tour guide. It was a good, but long tour. The city has some interesting history with the wars. It was constantly under the different rulings, and since its right on the border, forces would just breeze through it without destroying the town.









Our final destination was a restaurant called Au Brasseur serving Flammkuchen, essentially their version of flatbread pizza. It was very good food after a long day of walking. We were there for some time and they just kept pumping out these flatbreads, I ate way too much. The DESSERT THOUGH, let me tell you. It was one of those dessert pizzas (I guess that’s what you call it) topped with apples and cinnamon brown sugar, simply amazing. Afterward, we took a quick walk before the bus to, you know, digest. I found this beautiful spot as the sun was setting 😀 and that concludes our day trip to France!