The Grand Rapids Community College student who spent three months in Germany interning and taking classes, is back on campus after her adventure abroad.
Sarah Ross, 24, Grand Rapids was one of 10 students to receive a Work Immersion Study Scholarship from Baden-Württemberg Stiftung, a non-profit foundation in Germany.
“I am glad to be back,” Ross said. “It was a bit of a culture shock. Beer is cheaper than the water; there is no free water in restaurants. There is no such thing as air conditioning over there. We walked everywhere, and when I wasn’t walking I was on a train probably once a week.”
Ross was set up with a job at a local manufacturing plant, which her host family also happened to own.
“I worked at Hemmerlein Metall Technik,” Ross said. “ I mostly did welding, milling and drilling. It was fun. They had some different techniques that I was able to learn over there. All of the machines were in German or Russian, so that got a bit confusing at times. ”
Despite taking German classes at GRCC, Ross still had to learn how to communicate with actual Germans.
“One of the things I learned most over there was the language,” she said. “They are very forward, so I had to get used to that. I went with other Americans, so when we were with each other we spoke English. When I wasn’t by them, I only spoke German.”
Ross became somewhat of a celebrity in the local community.
“They were freaking out about it,” Ross said. “They were really excited about it. I had some politicians visit me, and the local newspaper came by. I guess I didn’t think it was a big deal. They were especially excited that I was a girl. There are barely any girls who work in that field in Germany. Even the reactions I got from women over there, they would say ‘Oh my gosh, that’s a man’s job,’ where as here, it’s not as big of a deal.”
Ross currently works at Rapid-Line, a metal manufacturing plant here in Grand Rapids. She has one year left before she graduates with her tooling and manufacturing associate’s degree.
“I plan on staying at Rapid-Line for a while,” Ross said. “In the future, I would like to work for a German-American company, like Bentler Automotive, Stihl, and Siemens. There are actually quite a few. I would love to go back to work and live there.”