Back to SummaryLily Truong - Student Advisor Profile
In being fully aware and utterly fascinated by the amazing speed at which the process of globalization is occurring and the way it is shaping the world, I found so much potential value in going abroad. The experience could open my eyes to another culture, another way of life. By globalizing myself, I could come out with the tools and skill sets that are so important for living in an age of globalization. Now, more than ever, being able to collaborate between different cultures offers great rewards and is crucial. And what better way to develop these collaborative skill sets, than to stick yourself in a foreign culture and discovery it firsthand, actively engaging in the exchange of not just cultural ideals, but political and economical as well.
As an engineering student, I was naturally drawn to Germany because its engineering is known for its precision and high-quality. It is respected and deemed the best in the world. As a compulsive traveler, I had always wanted to go abroad. But I would've never imagined I could end up spending an entire 2 quarters and summer abroad while still graduating on time with my biomechanical engineering major. Driven by my addiction to travel, I got creative with my four-year plan. Somehow all the pieces fell into place and the next thing I knew, I was packing my bags for my 9-month stay in Germany. Prior to this, the longest I had ever been away from the States was only 3 weeks. When I look back, coming to the Stanford in Berlin program is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. My word of advice is to never let your class schedule be the reason you can’t go abroad. If you really want to go, you can make it happen.
My time in Berlin was filled with countless memories and unique experiences. For the first time, I heard and saw the Dali Lama speak at the famous Brandenburg gate, I listened to the Berliner Philharmonic perform, one of the best symphonies in the world. I attended the Berlinale, one of the famous international film festivals—Stanford in Berlin even gave us special passes for the festival. I learned about German history and culture by walking throughout the historic sites and
watching German films in my courses. I found hidden treasures at Berlin’s numerous flea markets. I ate the best Apple Strudel I’ve ever had in my life. I explored Berlin’s quirky bars and top-notch club scene. I spent relaxing days at Berlin’s countless cafes and enjoyed the very important Berliner ritual of Sunday Brunch. I watched the sunset while rowing on the Spree River. And my most unforgettable experience was cheering for the German soccer team along with the rest of Germany during the final match of the 2008 Euro Cup. Thanks to serendipitous forces, not only was the Euro Cup going on during my time there, but also Germany made it to the finals! The atmosphere that revolved around this event is indescribable. With every single person in the country watching the Euro Cup matches with unmatched passion, such an atmosphere could never be found in the U.S.
Anyone who’s on the fence about going abroad should ask themselves, how often do you get the opportunity to live in another country long enough to truly experience it? For many of us, studying abroad will be a once in a lifetime experience. My time in Germany transformed me from being an outsider, viewing the society as a tourist, to being an insider, being able to share in the subtleties of German culture. If you stay in a place long enough, you can experience it in a
way that will let it change you; that’s what happened to me. Being in Germany has shaped my views of America, both for better and for worst, my views of Germany, and has helped me grow in both tangible and intangible ways, from finally learning skills such as cooking and paying bills by living alone for the first time in my life during the internship, to instilling in me the courage to be flexible and unafraid of change.
Not only does the Stanford in Berlin program offer a personal experience, but also a professional one as well. The Krupp internship program is unique to this overseas program. The Berlin program is wonderful because once accepted into the program, you're guaranteed an internship. I worked at a German biotech start-up called Wavelight specializing in Lasik Eye Surgery. Not only did the Krupp internship offer me wonderful international work experience, it also inspired me to pursue a personal research project on entrepreneurship and start-up dynamics in Germany versus in the U.S. Because I was living in Germany’s Medical Valley, I had access to interviews with German entrepreneurs and high-tech policy officials. You’ll be surprised by the various directions your experiences can take you. Not knowing what’s in store is the best part.
When I left for Germany I didn't know the language and I had no idea what Germany would be like since I had never even been to Europe before. When I arrived, everything was crazy and new. And while it was scary, it was also exhilarating. Over the course of time, I went from went from not knowing how to order my food in German to being able to converse in 90% German. I went from not knowing anyone, to developing great friendships with the people in the program, and also making lifelong German friends. I went from getting lost in Berlin during the first two days, to knowing the city like the back of my hand. After my hometown and Stanford, Berlin is my third home. For the longest time, Berlin was hidden behind the Iron Curtain. But today, Europe’s best-kept secret is out and more and more people are discovering this ever-evolving city. Like the city, your experience in Berlin will always be dynamic. With so many possibilities, the only sure thing is that you’ll never be bored.