For my internship abroad I visited Utah together with six other students. Three weeks in the USA are great to learn English more deeply and to get to know very friendly people. We had the opportunity to experience the Brigham Young University (BYU) and work on small but very interesting projects. Of course, we also spent a lot of time with our host-families at home, at church, in national parks, on a lake, on mountains…
In the time from June 29 to July 20 I was impressed by the American way of life. Just after we had arrived in Provo, Utah, we experienced an American cinema, a mall (the University mall), a fast food restaurant (Panda Express), an amusement arcade and a BBQ at one of our host-families’ house on Saturday. The seven of us German students had been distributed to three (resp. four) different families living in Provo. Stefan and I stayed with the Peatrosses. I got to know Justin and Cindy and their children Natasha, Stephany, Andrew, Aaron and Logan so well that the farewell after three weeks became a really painful issue.
All of our host-families belonged to the Mormon religion and followed distinct rules. But they did not harass us with such things at all, e.g. Mormons fast in the morning of the first Sunday of the month, yet we were fortunately allowed to have breakfast before going to their local church for three hours. Every service was divided into four sessions: The first one was a general meeting including Eucharist where we sang religious hymns and listened to people telling stories of their religious life. Second, we were separated for Sunday school classes. The other two sessions afterwards seemed to be more organizational than religious.
On Monday the 2nd of July, we had our first BYU (Brigham Young University) visit in the morning and were taught how to use the program “Matlab” taught by Bill Evenson, a retired BYU professor. This program is very useful to plot graphs in the research area Computational Physics. Among other things, we got to know something about the different departments and food courts there while we walked around on the campus. When we arrived at the Physics department, we investigated various Physics “games”. For example, there was a wave simulator on the ceiling, which you could run to observe a wave’s behavior with different amounts of maxima etc. Furthermore, Justin (the organizing laser professor) showed us the setup of his high power laser experiment in his laboratory. The headline of his research topic was something like: “Photoemission by large electron wave packets emitted out the side of a relativistic laser focus”. Explaining his experiment to us he taught us how he amplifies his lasers and navigates them with mirrors etc.
On the next day at BYU, Bill taught us the basics of complex numbers, which we deepened on another day in one of the labs in the afternoon. One important aspect there was to understand the differences and connections between real numbers and imaginary numbers. I also liked walking around on the BYU campus and investigate the different areas and faculty buildings in our lunch breaks. The following day was already the Independence Day, Wednesday, the 4th of July. We drove downtown and settled down next to the road which the parade would march on. Since this day is reserved for praising the US soldiers whom the American people feel to owe their country to, we could even watch tanks driving down the road and canons shooting bursts. Next to every street and in front of every house I recognized many American flags in various kinds and versions. Many people wore American-flag-clothes, e.g. shirts, ties etc. This patriotism climaxed at the event “Stadium Of Fire” after we had fought a water balloon battle on the blistering road in front of the Peatrosses’ house. That event took place in the LaVell Edwards Stadium, home of the BYU Cougars football team. In the stadium, the two highlights of this evening were the Beach Boy concert and the amazing final firework.
The Thursday started at BYU again, with Matlab lessons and work in a laboratory. The most interesting part of our Matlab projects was, in my opinion, the graph for various interference patterns. Using matrices with ones and zeroes we virtually built perforate walls which light would shine through at the points marked with ones. This was a vivid way to learn about the parameters of diffraction patterns, but we also got to know how to work with matrices. Moreover, we could watch a student creating 3-D-graphs with Matlab. From the university we took home some liquid nitrogen in order to make Oreo and Strawberry ice cream ourselves. On Friday we visited the university’s planetarium to learn about the development of the universe and especially about most important star constellations so that we could find them again while we would be climbing Mt. Timpanogos the next day.
So we went to bed at about 8pm to drive to Timpanogos at 11:30pm. Equipped with flashlights we hiked to the top of Timpanogos to see the sun rise at approx. 6am and afterwards hiked down to the car again. Most of us went to bed immediately after having come home from the hiking trip at about 11am. In the evening the same day, we German students were allowed to fly in Marc Openshaw’s and his friend’s two private planes where we had a fantastic view over whole Provo and the nearby mountains.
The reason why half of the Peatross family and we Germans came to the Green River wrapped in darkness was that we had been to BYU till afternoon and had learned more about complex numbers, which was very important for Sarah since this was her topic for her talk in the end. This lesson took place as the theoretical part of our lab classes. The teacher explained to us how to calculate with complex numbers and why they are so important for physics. He answered all of our questions, e.g. why you use imaginary numbers in Physics despite the fact that they are not existent. His reply was that they simplified the way of calculations of, for example, oscillating circuits. The calculations were shortened immensely but Mathematicians did not like the way Physicists calculate with imaginary numbers: In Physics, you can leave away the imaginary part of your result and keep the real one, since it is the only existing part.
So at the Green River beach, we enjoyed our hotdog dinner, the observing of the stars and our sleep, despite all the flies. On the next morning, we drove up along the river after a good breakfast and started rafting in a ten persons boat on the Green River (which did look green indeed). The water was so warm that we swam a lot but we had to make sure to wear life vests (it would be illegal to be on the river without one). On all of our car trips I couldn’t help but marvel at the Mars-like scenery of the dusty desert, rocks and the interesting red cliffs around the valleys and freeways and highways we used. I could experience the whole nature which you usually see in Western movies where only bushes grow in the desert, only single trees and red dust instead of grass. We stopped at the fast food restaurant “Wendy’s” during our car journey to have lunch and to go to “Dead Horse Point” afterwards. This viewpoint opened an awesome view over the Colorado River passing through a tremendous canyon, which is about half as big as the Grand Canyon. On the same day, we even hiked to the huge Delicate Arch, which is depicted on most of Utah’s license plates and therefore an important sight. In the evening, we had a rich dinner at a non(!)-fast food restaurant where we enjoyed one of several root beer floats.
On Wednesday, we had been to BYU again starting to think about a draft for our talks. The task was to incorporate knowledge and especially graphs, which we had plotted with Matlab, from the prior lessons, as well as information from the internet. The next day – on our trip to Salt Lake City – we first of all visited an outdoor museum rekindling a pioneer village. After we had watched an Indian dance performance there in the social hall, we had lunch at Temple Square, directly in Salt Lake City. This Mormon Temple at Temple Square is the international basis of the Mormon religion and therefore very important to our host-families. My host-parents even married there. Moreover, we enjoyed the view from a skyscraper and went shopping in the comparatively small but luxurious City Creek Center mall. Still on that day, we went to a picnic with the Peatrosses’ church in Provo and even went to a shooting range with the Wilcoxes afterwards.
With Friday the 13th of July the last week in Utah began. On that day, we left for Pineview Reservoir in the afternoon after BYU, together with the Cox family and friends dragging a heavy cargo: a boat and two wave runners, which we were even allowed to run ourselves later on. Although we got to know weather in Utah from a different, rare side, which means it rained a lot and became pretty cold, we had a lot of fun. Fortunately, nobody became sick!
On Sunday, my host-brother Andrew had shown me how to make French toast before we went to church. In the evening, we had the great pleasure to see many of Greg Olsen’s perfect-looking paintings in his atelier, so we had even some art education. The professional artist gave all of us students a signed copy of one of his romantic Jesus-paintings.
This last week started with the completion of the preparation of our talks at BYU. As my topic was “damped oscillators”, I developed a power point which explained the different cases of oscillations and explained them with the aid of examples like a door with door closer, a pendulum etc.
On Tuesday, we left early for Southern Utah together with the Peatross family and Bill and Nancy Evenson. There I could see the dry heat in the valley surrounded by dusty and sharp red cliffs. Bill’s so called cabin (which turned out to be an actual three storied house) in the red-dust-and-small-bushes-prairie was basis for three trips: At first we hiked and climbed through canyons in the Capitol Reef National Park and came back to watch the movie “My best two years” in the evening. Then on Wednesday, which was the fifteenth birthday of my host-brother Aaron, we hiked to an interesting natural bridge, which appeared like an arch, like e.g. Delicate Arch. The highlight of the day for me was swimming in a natural pool. Despite all the mud and red dirt (or maybe also because of it), we had a lot of fun in this warm swimming pool.
The almost last day of our three weeks stay was a big success, in my opinion. Everyone performed his/her talk really well finishing the internship at BYU successfully. Each of us had one topic and had elaborated a power point and a ten minute talk about it. We Germans started preparing the BBQ at 6pm then, by going shopping at three different grocery stores. We bought enough (or rather too much) for all three host-families: the Peatrosses, the Coxes and the Wilcoxes; plus the Evensons.
The plan for the time after the farewell BBQ was: final party. But before we listened to a little concert by Luna and Friederike on their violins, where in the end everyone somehow participated in. Of course, no one intended to go to bed this night since these were our last ours with our host-families. Thus some of us visited the jumping gym the second and last time. Because we would have to leave at about 4am, we youths met at the Peatrosses again to play games, party and have fun together. After we had sung our last songs, we Germans and Justin had to leave for the airport. So the painful farewell I had described in the beginning took place now.
All of the family members were very kind to all of us. I learned a lot from them especially in terms of language, culture and surroundings. This whole experience honestly broadened my horizon unspeakably. None of us liked leaving them since we had spent so much time with them and had had so much fun together. Every time I asked one of my family members a question relating to language they helped me out. In my opinion, the internship at BYU was an interesting and helpful way to be able to compare a US university with the TUM since this helps to choose the suitable university based on experience and knowledge. All in all I can say that I learned very much during the three weeks stay and improved my English a lot. I am so grateful that I was able to have such a great internship with so many experiences. I would absolutely do it again if I could.