Engineering students take advantage of study abroad program in Germany

Thomas “Ty” Gunter of Nashville, a senior civil engineering major, and Nathan Forester of Hendersonville, Tenn., a senior mechanical engineering major, both spent the summer studying in Germany, thanks to a study abroad program.

The International Student Exchange Program (ISEP) Science and Engineering Internship and German Language study program permitted the students to spend three months in Hannover, Germany. Students conducted research in English while learning German and discovering the beauty of the region. Twelve credit hours were awarded upon completion of the program.

“Spending an entire summer in a different country sounded more interesting than anything I had planned up to that point,” said Gunter, who also has a minor in business administration. “Not to mention I was not sure if I would be presented with another opportunity like this again anytime soon.”

“I have always wanted to study abroad, and this seemed like the best opportunity I was going to get,” Forester said. “The experiences and memories were well worth applying for this program.”

Located in the northern part of Germany near Berlin and Hamburg, Hannover is at the heart of a region of about 1.2 million people and the headquarters of companies such as Volkswagen, Continental, Sennheiser and MTU. Surrounded by lakes and forests, the city houses many parks and gardens, adding to the city’s reputation for being a “green metropolis.” Hannover also combines an attractive mixture of historic and modern architecture, especially in the old city center and its modern shopping areas.

Both students said their individual experiences were transformative.

“I gained a real sense of individualism being in a foreign country, making new friends and relationships within a new culture,” Gunter said. “I really enjoyed being able to get away from the hurried lifestyle for a little while, and for a little over three months just focus on the internship and traveling as much as I could.”

“Every city is full of history and seems to have a sort of story to be telling,” Forester said. “The building can date back as far as the first millennium, which is unheard of in the U.S.

Also, something I found really interesting was the fact that most Europeans are multilingual. I found myself a little jealous because I didn’t know anything but English.”

Unlike his friends who studied abroad with different programs and returned saying it did not feel that much different from taking classes at home, Gunter said he was able to fully immerse himself in the culture.

“I was able to travel to five different countries in addition to eight of the 16 different states within Germany over the three months we were there,” he said. “It was great meeting locals and discussing everything from different customs we had to their views on politics. I found out that once you get to know them better, Germans are more than capable of being friendly and at times can be quite funny.

“I loved getting to see not only my country but the world in a new perspective,” Gunter added.

The trip to London the weekend before the opening of the Olympics was phenomenal, Forester said.

“This was the perfect situation because the prices of food and tourist sites were still normal and not raised due to the Olympics, but at the same time the city was decorated complete in Olympic logos,” he said.

Contributing to Gunter’s expanded worldview were the 14 other engineering students in the engineering internship program.

“We had a fairly diverse group, with three from India, one from South Korea, one from Indonesia and the rest of us from the United States,” Gunter said. “One of the friends I made from India and I had an interesting weekend trip. We took off on a Friday afternoon, carpooled and hitchhiked our way on the Autobahn 200 miles away to the city of Cologne, and ‘couch-surfed’ in an extra room of a guy we found on a website for free.

“It was quite an experience having to use the limited German that we had learned to negotiate our way with the carpool situation. All in all it was an unforgettable weekend [during which] we ended up spending less than 40 bucks for round-trip transportation and rooming for four days,” he added.

Both Gunter and Forester highly recommended studying or traveling abroad to anyone even remotely interested.

“I am already trying to plan when I will be able to make another trip,” Gunter said.

“It was an amazing experience and I would recommend this to everyone and anyone interested in an unforgettable summer,” Forester said.

For more information about ISEP, go to For more information about study abroad through the University of Mississippi, contact Blair McElroy, study abroad adviser, at the University of Mississippi Study Abroad Office, P.O. Box 187, University, MS  38677, or call 662-915-1508 or email: