Stepping out of my comfort zone and embracing a new culture and work environment, I embarked on an incredible, truly transformative journey at Sympra in Germany. Leaving behind the bustling streets of Seoul, Korea, I discovered a whole new world filled with unique experiences and valuable lessons. In this blog post, I will share my observations on the differences between Germany and Korea, the knowledge I gained, and the benefits this opportunity holds for future exchange programmers.
Germany’s rich history and distinct way of life presented a stark contrast to my familiar surroundings in Korea. One of the first noticeable differences was the warm and friendly attitude of the people of Stuttgart. They often greeted me with a smile and a warm welcome, reminiscent of the southern hospitality I experienced back home in Dallas, Texas where I was born and lived for over 30 years before moving to Seoul. The city also embraced a child-friendly atmosphere, and it was heartwarming to see families spending quality time together in parks and public spaces as well as riding bicycles together. Furthermore, Germany’s love for dogs was evident everywhere, making it a paradise for canine enthusiasts like myself and my furry companion, Jerry.
Joining Sympra exposed me to the fascinating realm of public relations with a focus on business-to-business (B2B) communication. While the fundamentals of PR remain consistent worldwide, I discovered notable differences in approaches. Sympra emphasized staying up-to-date with news, with a particular focus in the B2B domain. The integration of news monitoring tools allowed for comprehensive coverage, ensuring clients received the most relevant and current information. Sympra’s use of the translation application, DeepL, was life-changing and their company website including their social media channels such as LinkedIn and Instagram left a lasting impression.
Germany’s automotive industry, renowned globally, offered an invaluable learning opportunity. Visiting the Mercedes-Benz and Porsche museums allowed me to develop a deeper appreciation for cars. Working at Sympra provided valuable insights into the sector and further enhanced my understanding with a strong emphasis on eco-friendly practices and sustainability. I learned about the importance of alternative energy sources, such as electric vehicles, as the world continues to address pressing environmental concerns. This knowledge will undoubtedly benefit me in future endeavors.
Exploring Germany’s culinary offerings was a delight for my taste buds. One notable dish I discovered was Maultaschen, a traditional Swabian specialty resembling large dumplings. Exploring local cuisine allowed me to appreciate the diversity of flavors and regional variations. From hearty sausages and the potato salat to delectable pastries including my personal favorite- the butter pretzel, Germany’s food scene had something for everyone. In addition, I cannot forget to give a special shout out to the incredible Sympra chef, Andrea, who prepared unforgettable meals. While I will undoubtedly miss her delicious, unparalleled lunches, my waistline may appreciate the break!
Germany’s natural beauty left me awe-inspired. Stuttgart, with its stunning landscapes and picturesque architecture, provided breathtaking views. The city’s commitment to green spaces was evident, with meticulously maintained parks and gardens that dotted throughout the urban landscape. The air quality was noticeably superior, offering a refreshing change from the pollution often found in busy metropolitan areas. Public transportation, particularly the efficient and eco-friendly system, impressed me. The honor system and the option to purchase a 49 euro ticket for unlimited travel provided convenience and affordability. I will miss the U and S-Bahns, as well as the ICE and DB trains.
Participating in an exchange program like the one at Sympra offers numerous advantages for aspiring programmers. Firstly, it allows for an immersive and extended experience in a new country, far beyond what a typical vacation can offer. Living and working abroad broadens horizons, exposes individuals to new perspectives, and enhances cultural understanding. It also offers the opportunity to recharge and refresh in a different atmosphere, contributing to personal and professional growth. Additionally, the experience gained in a different work environment, combined with exposure to international PR practices, provides a competitive edge in the field.
Germany, and particularly Stuttgart, has etched a special place in my heart. I eagerly anticipate future visits to explore vibrant cities like Berlin, Cologne, Heidelberg, and Düsseldorf, and to experience the festive charm of Oktoberfest and the Christmas markets. The little things that made my time in Germany memorable, from the unique window openings to my newfound appreciation for German brands like Miele, Nivea, and Birkenstock, will always hold a special significance. I am filled with gratitude for the enriching experience and look forward to returning to Germany to creat more cherished memories.
In conclusion, my time at Sympra in Germany was a life-changing experience filled with growth, cultural immersion, and professional development. The stark contrasts between Germany and Korea, along with the unique practices at Sympra, broadened my knowledge and expanded my horizons. From learning about sustainable practices in the automotive industry to savoring the flavors of German cuisine, every aspect of this journey left an indelible mark on me. As a future exchange programmer, I encourage others to embrace similar opportunities and reap the countless benefits they offer.
P.S. Last but definitely not least, a huuuge thank you to Veit, Cecilia, and the Sympra family for this opportunity. For opening up the office and welcoming me with open arms, I will never forget my German experience. Tschüssle!