Monday, July 15, 2013

A Visit to a Steel Plant

Unfortunately, I forgot to update my blog with a weekly post last week; however, our group was able to see a steel plant in Germany.  Honestly, I have to give Germany props for all the research and work that goes into making sure that the impact to the environment is minimal.  This visit was an interesting and unforgettable experience.  I loved being able to tour the facility and see the different steps of the process.  Some of the machinery was so complex that I just wanted to take it apart to see how everything worked inside.  On a side note, I wish I was able to most more of the pictures online, but I do not want any of those processes available on the Internet.  If any of those processes were online, different manufacturers in other countries could duplicate those processes which would hurt the business to the German steel mill.  I learned that this is actually a fear for many manufacturers.  Businesses in countries that do not adhere to environmental standards or human rights policies could duplicate all the processes at a much cheaper cost which would put the German steel company out of business.  Overall though, the experience was fabulous and we got to wear some very fashionable attire.

Review of Last Week's Research
In the past week, I prepared a new solution for Polypropylene and researched some other polymers that would be perfect as a separator in supercapacitors.  At the moment, our lab does not have tubing for electrospinning so I am stuck with reading massive amounts of literature and looking up different solutions and parameters for electrospinning.  At the end of last week, I also started to feel sick.  I was not able to really work on Thursday or Friday and it is possible that I have a sinus infection.  At some point this week, I will probably go to the doctors to see what exactly is wrong.

Sick in Stuttgart

This past weekend I visited Stuttgart.  The picture above shows the town square.  In Stuttgart, the main thing to do is visit the Mercedes-Benz Museum which is what we ended up doing.

Unfortunately, we were unable to tour the plant because tours only take place during the week.  What was interesting about the museum was the amount of American history that was incorporated into the museum.  I think I learned more from that museum than I ever did in American history class.  Below are just some pictures from the museum experience.  The first picture is just Mercedes.  In fact, Mercedes got its name from a car that was created and the man decided to name the car after his daughter, Mercedes.  The next picture is of some older Mercedes cars.  What I love about this picture is the married couple that is taking their wedding pictures in the museum.  The next picture is actually one of the first or the first versions of what we know as windshield wipers.  I always find windshield wipers interesting because literally we cannot find a better invention than windshield wipers for cars to this day.

Overall, I had a fun time hanging in Stuttgart, Frankfurt, and Mainz.  In fact, we had such a good time that we forgot to take pictures of the rest of the cities.

Reflection: Month Number One is Done
On our first day at the university, our mentor, Dr. Atchison or Jenny, watched our faces light up as we were introduced to a new, different world.  I remember how we all said that we wanted to stay in Germany forever because we thought it was better here.  Jenny said that idea would change soon enough.  I recall thinking that I would never want to leave.

At the moment, I still feel as though I would love to stay in Germany, but part of me also misses Philly, which has always been home.  To be honest, I have more than just a sinus infection; I'm also a little homesick.  I would love the opportunity to be able to eat food that I have been accustomed to throughout my entire existence.  To be more specific, I would like to have a sandwich.  If I could go to the local Fresh Grocer, I would buy a half a pound of Land O'Lakes American Cheese, a half a pound of Dietz and Watson German Bologna, Heinz American Ketchup, Original South Philly Rye Bread, and Lays Lightly Salted Potato Chips.  The food is absolutely delicious in Germany and a sandwich in Germany may be better than the sandwich I described, but I want to taste something that reminds me of home.

Of course, in about a month, I will have that opportunity.  For now, I will enjoy the Argentinian steaks, schnitzel, and pommes.  Germany is not the best country in the world or even better than America.  I hardly believe that one can make a judgement like that.  I believe that both countries have their strengths and weaknesses in their infrastructures and cultures.  For example, from what I have witnessed, Germans seem to put more importance on health, happiness, and living well than Americans.  Most Americans place precedence on work and business.  This German idea is definitely a lesson that I am going to incorporate into my own life.  I think a balance should definitely exist but America seems to forget about that.

I thinking knowing that differences exist and those differences make those countries unique is what matters; however, when I get back to America, I will be very happy to rent bikes on Sundays which is a thing you cannot do here.

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