More than “99 Luftballons”

Posted By on 2011-08-02

My internship by KUKA Systems Marketing

In the fall, I will be beginning my Junior year at Michigan State University, studying English, Communications, and of course, German. However, this past summer, I had the opportunity to live and work in beautiful and historic Germany. Spending just over two months interning in the marketing department for KUKA Systems inAugsburg, Germany, sounded like the perfect way to spend my summer. I not only would be learning and developing skills at KUKA that would help to further enhance my education, but at the same time I would also be getting to experience a European adventure, that Hollywood has often portrayed as dreamlike. Before I landed inMunich, I had no idea what my time in Germanywould be like. I wondered if the handful of German words I knew would be enough to get me by, or if I would have to mime my way through the entire experience. My prior knowledge of German was based on what I had learned in school, which I have now come to find is not always the correct or most useful information. There is something about being immersed in a language and culture that no textbook could ever come close to explaining. The land, language, and culture cannot be taught, they must be experienced. Reflecting on the short two months I spent at KUKA, I look back and confidently say that my experience has surpassed any and every expectation I had.

To sum up everything I have learned and experienced cannot possibly be done in an article such as this, and cannot be described in words alone. I have experienced Germany from both the eyes of a tourist and those of a native from taking part in both the chaos and excitement at the world famous Neuschwanstein castle, to enjoying a typical summer festival in a local village. However, there are three significant things I have learned during my time here: The most commonly used words or phrases are ones that you never learn from a textbook, pronunciation is key, and in contrast to what I had learned in school, although they are indeed popular and well known, German pop culture is not centered around Nena’s “99 Luftballons” or the Prinzen’s hit song “Millionär”.

My first day at KUKA, I was immediateley greeted by my new colleagues and felt welcomed and comfortable in the office atmosphere. It was a sigh of relief knowing that I would be able to fit in well with the people I would be working with every day. Their patience with me was impeccable as I was learning the ins and outs of both the company and language. Even through the many miscommunications, as a result of my incorrect pronunciations and lack of understanding of the German language, they remained tolerant of me. They introduced me to life in the KUKA marketing department, as well as life in Germany. I saw first handed, and quickly learned, the diligent work that is required to plan the many exhibitions and events KUKA is involved in, giving me the utmost respect for the work that they do every day and an appreciation of getting to be part of it. I was able to attend one exhibition in Stuttgart, where I learned some, out of the many, operations that robots are capable of performing. Other days, I was able to put my English studies to practical use as I edited the English translation of the KUKA website, the OrangeNews and other various articles. I even was able to assist in the planning of KUKA’s Family Day that took place near the end of July, where all KUKA employees gathered together at KUKA headquarters inAugsburg.

My summer here inGermany is quickly coming to an end. Soon my bags will be packed and I’ll be headed off to the airport, preparing to embark on the long, dreaded, nine hour flight back to the United States. Leaving my friends, Augsburg, and Germany behind will be difficult, to say the least. Everything has become so familiar and routine, and saying goodbye is never easy. However, as cliche as it may sound, the experience and memories will never be forgotten. I am proud to say that this summer I was a KUKAner.

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