I look back gratefully on the experiences of the last few weeks at Louisiana State University (LSU). As part of a four-week scholarship program of the Fulbright Commission, we received an introduction in three different topics: Entrepreneurship as an engineer, student-life in the US and Southern American culture and history.
The center of the program was the topic of “Entrepreneurship” and especially how we as engineering students can come up with exciting business ideas and bring them to life. Therefore, we heard special basic lectures from experienced LSU-professors, which were exactly tailored to our needs on topics such as capstone engineering, sales, entrepreneurship and business incubation, patents and trademarks or how to find funding sources. Also, we met with LSU-engineering alumni that have already started their own company, such as HauteWork-founder Jamie Glas, who produces stylish functional and fire-resistant clothing that women wear every day during their jobs. By answering our various questions about strategies and different paths we could benefit from their experience even more. Additionally, we visited local Louisianan companies (Tabasco, BASF, Mezzo Technologies, and Noble Plastics) that gave us some practical advice for our plans after graduation and taught us about their start-up phases and philosophies.
But since another goal of the program was to introduce us to the Culture of the Southern United States and the lifestyle at an American campus-university, Fulbright made sure that enough time could be spent on these topics as well.
Each German was individually assigned an American student (buddy), who should spend more or less time with us, depending on how well we became friends. Some very hospitable buddies wanted to make sure we experienced the whole USA-program and hell yes, we had an amazing time with them! They took us to the best restaurants and bars in town, the local Top-Golf facility, and the shooting range, to only name a few events.
But we could also gain experience on our own together with the other Germans by going to university sporting events like basketball, gymnastics or baseball. There I have learned that the Americans know how to put on a great show and entertain people for 2.5 hours straight! I will never forget us being able to sing the Callin’ Baton Rouge Anthem in the arena with thousands of people after practicing quite a few times. Moreover, Dr. Leder, our group leader and partner of Fulbright showed us some interesting and special places like the old slavery-plantations with beautiful and well-kept estates and over 700-year-old oak-trees. He also took us on a swamp tour where we observed and learned about alligators and raccoons.
Besides, one of the best parts of this program was the modern and appealing condition of the LSU facilities, that we stayed at (The Cook Hotel), studied in (PFT-Hall) and worked out at (University recreation center). We loved the whole LSU-campus as a whole and felt very safe and comfortable all the time.
I was also very pleased by the openness and hospitality of the locals. For example, three of us were invited to a professor’s home workout. Or when I went out for a run around the university-lake, I spontaneously joined two female students, playing with a football in their front garden.
The only problem was that we would have loved to watch a football game of the current national champions (LSU Tigers) in the gigantic Tiger Stadium (103k seats!). But unfortunately, it was off-season during our stay, so we had to console ourselves with the beauty of mascot Mike The Tiger, who has his enclosure on campus. However, now we have only one more reason to visit the state of Louisiana again!
All in all, we had a very instructive and eventful time. Thanks to all who have contributed their part to this unforgettable experience.