The logistics trek to Germany

Over the past 10 days, I’ve been touring Germany with 29 other colleagues from college. We went to Hamburg, Berlin and Munich. The site visits were planned to allow us enough free time go around the cities and do our own thing as well. The best part was that most of us were strangers to each other, from various courses and majors. But what a trip it was!!! We’ve had so much fun. Any trip when you don’t sleep for more than 5 hours a night has to be an awesome trip I guess.

This being Christmas time, there’s merry everywhere. Christmas markets are around every corner, selling all sorts of knickknacks, Christmas decorations with people everywhere in the freezing cold. Of course, not to forget field visits which were very enriching in terms of how companies are viewing logistics these days and organizing the entire supply chain to meet daily needs and demands.

Here’s my pick of one picture from each city, along with a description of it:

Hamburg: We went to the Kuehne + Nagel logistics center here and toured the facility to understand how they handle contract logistics for Yamaha music.

The next factory we visited was the Nestle plant where we toured the Kit-Kat factory.

Hamburg doesn’t have much to see or do. What it does have is the best Christmas markets. The Christmas markets everywhere have something called Gluwein (glue-wine). It is hot wine served in a small mug. You can carry the mug as you walk along the market. Also, the food is great – you get all sorts of baked cakes and pastries and the German special – sausages. My personal favorite however, is the stir fried mushrooms with sour cream on it. It’s called Champignon and is simply heavenly. My next favorite was the stir fried noodles with vegetables with the hot Chinese sauce. I guess my love for Indian Chinese will never go away.

Here’s one of the roads decked up for Christmas:

Berlin: In Berlin, we had the opportunity to listen to a lecture by Prof. Carl Marcus Wallenburg at the Technical University of Berlin. He showed us a World Bank report about logistics in Germany. This was followed by a visit to the Knorr-Bremse Systeme plant for a tour of their factory. This company builds the braking systems for almost all trains in the world. Berlin by itself was a really depressing city with lots of history and museums dedicated to the Cold War and World War 2. This city typifies the Nazi Germany in terms of history. But who can forget the Olympic stadium and the Berlin wall?! It also has some of the most beautiful architecture from the Renaissance period – most of them copies of Italy or Greece.

Berlin wall:

Munich: This is the most happening city here. It has the BMW factory and the Olympic stadium. The BMW plant is phenomenal – I was awestruck by the sheer level of automation they have! The factory has a 97% automation level. Most of the manufacturing is done by robots. It’s almost like Transformers in real life!! It was freaky to say the least. Munich also has the OktoberFest every year, so this is generally one of the most lively cities here.

Architecture-wise, this city has about 700 fountains – the most in Germany. But most of them were closed now in the winter.

Here’s the BMW office designed in the shape of the 4 cylinder engine.

The last day was for ourselves, and some of us decided to visit a castle nearby. A 2 hour train ride away from Munich is the Neuschwanstein castle. It is situated on a hill, has the Swiss alps in the backdrop, a lake and waterfall in the front, and pine forests all around. It was one of the most picturesque settings I’ve seen to date.

So hope you guys enjoyed seeing the pics as much as I enjoyed being in them. This trip doesn’t give you any course credits, but if you want to hang out with a bunch of Buckeyes in an unknown land during winter break and have fun while at the same time learn about logistics, I would strongly suggest you do it. After all, college life is a luxury which won’t last for long.

Statutory Warning: Maximum fun guaranteed!!


A Whole New World

During my military career, I was afforded many opportunities to travel abroad to several foreign countries.  My most memorable overseas trip was traveling to Germany.  At the time I was 19 years old,  fresh out of basic training and ready to see every inch of this planet as I could.  So, as luck may have it, I got the opportunity to do a 3 week stint in Germany.  I was ecstatic!  It was my first “official” overseas trip and I couldn’t wait to see all that Germany had to offer.

Now, I must remind you, fellow readers, I was 19.  I guess I could’ve been excited about the fact that I would be walking around the famous Nuremberg City Walls, touring St. Peter’s Church Cathedral in Munich or even renting a sports car and going bananas on the Autobahn for a while.  But what really excited me was the fact that I was able to, shall we say, “sample”  all the fine German beer I wanted to…legally.  I’m not sure I would classify this as a “dream come true”, but in my little world at the time, I thought it to be quite an accomplishment.  So, I lined my pockets with Deutsche Marks (that was the currency type at the time) and made sure that while I was touring Germany I hit every local pub I could, making the most of my so-called 3 weeks of  legality.

The most interesting part of my Germany trip was being able to interact with an entirely different culture.  Up to that point, I spent my entire life growing up on the rolling plains of South Dakota.  I had never been outside of the USA, let alone in a foreign country were I now was considered the minority.  I had a blast sitting down at local restaurants in various German cities ordering food I have never eaten before.  The German locals were very accommodating and did their best to interact with the “American Tourist”.  At times, I almost felt they were more excited to interact with me than I was them.  The locals would always try to practice their English with me – which is what I found hilariously interesting.  The most eager participants were the  local pub owners.  They were always trying to learn the simple English phrases and, at any opportunity, learn our trendy “slang”.  If my memory serves me correctly, I think it at the time it was trendy (at least in Germany) to say Will Smith’s “Gettin’ Jiggy With It” or something ridiculous like that.  I was astonished to find out that they were big on American TV programs and they all loved MTV and Hollywood.  All in all, I had a great time connecting with someone half a world apart that I barely knew anything about.

This experience taught me at an early age how important it is to connect with other people form different cultures, countries, ethnicity groups and backgrounds.  I learned how much we as human beings all have in common, no matter where we come from or what geographical distances separate us.

FAST FORWARD……After a late night of statistics class, some of the MLHR class decided to journey across the street to the Varsity Club (VC)  for a time of “socializing”.  I knew this would be a great opportunity to connect with my classmates and also it would give us all a chance to wind down after 4 hours of classroom fun.  While at the VC, I got a chance to interact with a lot of our international classmates.  I had such a great time talking with them and learning about their first experiences in the US.  Listening to all of them say they like it in the US and how friendly everyone has been to them was very rewarding.  Sitting in that booth on Thursday night reminded me a lot of my first time in a foreign country.  Thinking back, I am so glad that people I didn’t know very well (ha, that being local pub owners) took the time to make me feel welcome in their home country and took a genuine interest in me even though I was just passing through for 3 weeks.

I am glad I got an opportunity to meet our international classmates.  It was fun laughing and letting them share their thoughts, feelings and experiences so far at Ohio State University.   I am sure it, as it was for me, a whole new eye-opening experience which, at times, can seem overwhelming.  I am glad as an MLHR class we have made our international students feel welcome and a part of the Fisher College of Business academic family.  I challenge everyone to get to know their fellow international classmates.  Trust me, you’ll have a lot more in common with them than you think…and you’ll have a lot of fun as well.