Day 15
21 May 2005

Please note that text in red indicates comments and changes to the original 2005 text that I made in June 2008. Enjoy!

We got up early to start our trip back to America. I grabbed my last German breakfast for what was to be weeks, snagged some Nutella to share with my sister when I got home, and left the good old Hotel Garni with a heavy heart.

Entitled "Departing Germany 1", this photo by Mr. Wick attempts to convey a deep sense sadness, of something lost.

Unless you're me and you can remember how sad I was to be leaving Germany just as I had found something that captivated me, you will probably find this photo to actually be boring and pointless. I'm such a hopeless romantic.

Have you ever been somewhere that felt so good and so right, that you never wanted to leave? A place where even the worst problems were only challenges, challenges sent to you in order to keep your life interesting? A place that held so much wonder and amazement for you that you thought that no matter how long you stayed, it would never lose its indescribable charm? A place where you could just be yourself? Where you were appreciated and respected, loved and treasured? If you haven't, I challenge you to seek out that place. To go and find it. To live and to love and to experience. To wake up and start valuing each day for what it can hold for you. . . you'll be glad that you did

Okay. I'll hold to this. It's as good as it sounds (finding such a place, that is.). I do wish you all the best in finding it, though--many aren't prepared to take the risks required to live and love so recklessly.

Entitled "Departing Germany 2", this photo continues the above trend. . .

Going to Germany was a truly ("If you see an adverb, kill it"--Mark Twain) a breath of fresh air for me. For reasons that aren't worth bring up here (just take my word for it, if you choose to continue), I struggled each and every day at Pitt to just get by because of class, homework, and people in my life. It was crazy. I felt like I was running as hard and as fast as I could go for my entire first year of college. I felt as though some of the people who were closest to me my ex-girlfriend never really heard what I was saying (if you're reading this and thinking to myself, "I thought I heard what Adam was saying," I sincerely thank you for your role in my life.). While I was in Germany, everyone there really paid attention. They cared about how I felt and what I had to say. Some of the most intense conversations I've had in years happened while I was in Germany. . . and I just loved it. I loved every minute, every second. If you're reading this because you're not sure if you should study abroad, let me give you a piece of advice: Go. Be safe, be prepared, but go. The worst thing that will happen is that you'll have some stories to tell your grandkids about how bad it was "back in the day." The best thing? I haven't decided on this part yet. Get back to me in 2015 and I'll have an answer for you.

As this online journal is equal parts self-description and self-exploration, let me note to you now that during my time at college and shortly thereafter, I found out that the aforementioned "intense conversations" are what I live for, interpersonally speaking. To any of you out there who have shared such a converastion with me (Mike, Renee, Jon, Laura, Sara, Cappy, Peter, Lydia, Nina, and Tiffany, among others), know that you have my lifelong gratitude.

"Departing Germany 3" is the conclusion.

*whispered* "Goodbye, Germany. . ."

We arrived back in America in one piece. I got stopped in Boston for "extra screening", which was a great joy. I'm glad that the people who are serving our country are being thorough. (Not really. It's all more or less an illusion.) One of the disposable containers of Nutella got punctured, though, which was a bummer. *shrug* There have been worse things in life, I think. My mom was waiting for me at the airport, but she had only arrived a couple of minutes before we did. It was very nice. For old time's sake, I took a picture of my meal when I got back. It was nice.

On the way back to Pittsburgh, I was able to snap a photo of the Cathedral of Learning. Poor quality, I know, but a photo nontheless. :) This was a really fun picture for me to take.

One other thing to say of note: Lufthansa (my official favorite airline of all time! (Though as of late, JetBlue has been giving them a run for their proveribal money!)) was giving away free access to its satellite internet services during the weekend of our flight back, which ruled to no end--I was able to check e-mail and send some instant messages to my family on the way back. It was great. I also had another window seat (4 flights, three window seats--not bad, I'd say) and another good seat partner. It was really heartwrenching for me to see the fair soil of Germany disappear from view. However, flying during the day was pretty cool. Much better than night-time flying, I think. Life was good, but bittersweet.

"Free wireless internet at 12.000 meters" was advertised, and that's what I got, and I loved it. Thanks, Lufthansa!

Mom later told me that she nearly fell out of her chair when I IMed her from above the Atlantic! Hee!

I'd like to take this time here to thank all of those who helped to send me to Germany, so here goes:

  • Mom and Dad: You put me here and have always supported me! Thanks for all of your love and kindness!
  • Kerry Daley: You awarded me the scholarship that paid for this trip, though I would have gone without one (knowing then what I know now). Thanks for being such a loving older sister to me (always looking out for me, et cetera)!
  • Keiha and John: You chose me to come on the trip, a fact that I will be forever grateful for. Thank you for being so solid, dependable, reliable, and fun. It's a pity that I'll never have either one of you for class!
  • Pap Pap and Aunt Lexi & Uncle Nub: Thanks for the monetary support! All of the images on this site are sponsored in part by you! :)
  • Herr Fock: You really had nothing to do with sending me to Germany, but you were an awesome guy to meet there. Good luck with your doctorate!
  • All of the German students: Thanks for listening. Thanks for caring. Thanks for being interested and for sharing your lives with me. I was fascinated each day. I couldn't ask enough questions, it seemed like! Though maybe you thought that that was just fine. :P
  • Peter McKeon: I wanted to be your room mate because of your kicking last name (check out Alistair McKeon's page for more!), but you were such a cool guy to meet. I look forward to working with you in the fall.
  • Everyone else: This assignment is due in 27 minutes and there are some other things that I have to look at first. To those of you who touched my lives: thank you. Thank you dearly, from the bottom of my heart. I mean it. I keep expressing these sorts of sentiments to my beloved friends. Hopefully they understand.

Man, writing this page really sucked--it was like reliving all of the sad feelings about leaving all over again. Double true.

AN ADDENDUM: Professional Concerns
6 June 2005

Here are some things I was supposed to address as I wrote my journal. I've decided to put them all in one place so that they don't get in the way of the story. :) Here's to you, Budny.

Ethical Issues in My Profession:

There have been entire books written on Engineering Ethics, so I'll choose to focus on how my eyes have been opened now that I've been to Germany and back.

I was surprised how often the companies we visited in Germany spoke of being environmentally friendly. Everything here or there was "green," especially at places like Fujitsu-Siemens. I suppose that this shows how important they think the local ecosystems are, which is a good thing. Good ethics, I say! Hmm. . .

What else is there? We didn't focus much on this in Germany. In fact, one of the first times I heard any of the German students mention ethics was in a conversation I had with one of them after I returned from Germany. Being ethical is extremely important to engineers because engineers design everything that we use every day. If you can see it, it's probably been engineered. Yeah, I just said that. So sue me. :P

Educational Breadth as Professional Development:

Engineers have a horrible stereotype, which some people really resent. Some of us celebrate it. Some people criticize the very idea of any sort of stereotype, but I say that they're useful. At any rate, the best way to break out of a stereotype is to prove that you're different. One way to to this is to widen your educational breadth in order to further your professional development.

If knowledge is power, then only the fool doesn't actively seek out knowledge. Being more well rounded is also important--who truly wants to deal with people with massively polarized personalities? Sure, I wouldn't expect the world's best chemist to be an active theologian or something else completely out of the ordinary, but would having to baby that person so that they can do their job be any fun at all? I don't think so. I guess what I'm saying is that a broad education helps to reduce this sort of effect. However, I think specialization is actually a good thing--there's just too much to know about everything, anymore. It makes my head hurt just thinking about it!

I plan to study German to broaden my professional horizons.

I'm pretty sure that all of those words that I just typed meant basically nothing. Ah, well.

Lifelong Learning, Continuing Education as Professional Development:

It's been said that when you cease to learn, you cease to live. Each of us (especially in this extremely dynamic world that we live in today) has to constantly improve himself just to get by. I plan on continuing to learn always.

Life is an adventure! Why not learn about it?

The Social Environment of Professional Life:

Knowing what's going on around you is a big deal--why would you work on developing a new product if it's not needed or, at least, desired? Also, political, social, economic and diversity issues must be combatted each day. Yeah.

Functioning on Multi-Disciplinary Teams:

It has been said that "It is important for professionals to be able to function and communicate effectively as a member of a team of individuals from diverse backgrounds." I think that I agree. There's only a small chance that I'll work with only engineers as I grow up, and I doubt that I'll marry one (Ha ha! Lawl. For those of you who don't know, I'm actually engaged to an engineer who is not only brilliant, but also is continuing on to earn a PhD in--gasp!--engineering! I guess that I didn't have any idea what my life had in store at the point when I first wrote this paragraph.) Actually, we've now broken up. I guess that I didn't have any idea what 2008 had in store at the point when I revised this journal last June! Being able to deal with other kinds of people is important. I always try to make things work out in a group, even if that means not getting my way (as long as the other way will work just as well in the long run). Sometimes we don't always understand each other, though, so it's hard to communicate. I think communication is my most notable skill, though, so I'm not so worried, I guess. (I had some issues in my senior design group this spring, but we eventually worked them out and succeeded.)

Well, that's it! Thanks for reading!

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