Together with 6 other students from my TUMKolleg, I went on a three week internship to Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo, Utah, USA. We stayed with guest families, and together with physics professor Dr. Justin Peatross, we experienced interesting scientific and recreational activities.
After a 22 hour journey across the Atlantic Ocean, we finally got to meet our host families for the first time: Philipp, Philipp and Benedict lived with the Swenson’s, and Oskar, Konstantin, Florian and I stayed at the Peatross’ house. We were warmly welcomed, and after a late-night snack we finally went to sleep.
The next day we went to BYU for the first time, experiencing our schedule for all our ‚University Days‘ during the next weeks. In the morning, a friendly student helped us learn Matlab, a programming environment designed to crunch through scientific calculations, that comes with its own language. It was very fun and easy to learn, because it gives an immediate response about everything calculated, and the syntax was very similar to other languages I already knew. After a lunch break at the food court, which basically was a room full of fast food restaurants, we had machining class with our awesome instructor Drew, who taught us working with metal on mills, lathes and CNC machines to build a pretty awesome project. I will come back to that later. Our last class was „Physics“ with Dr. Peatross, during wich he showed us his laboratory laser setup, and talked to us about the basics of quantum physics, which is his greater field of research. This was also a great opportunity to recap on our calculus we learned in school, and acquire the necessary english vocabulary.
We spent two days every week at BYU, so we had five left to see a lot of awesome and interesting sides of america. This had an impressive beginning when we were able to experience 4th of July, the US Independence Day, with a big parade, a classic american BBQ, and a big celebration in the university’s very own stadium. Americans tend to be very proud of their country, their military and their freedom, which was a bit unusual to see as a German.
Every sunday we had an interesting spiritual experience: because our guest families, and nearly everyone else in the greater area, was Mormon, we followed them to sunday service in their churches. This was different from what we are used to: their services mostly consists of very emotional speakers from the community, and are followed by „sunday school“, where children learn about the church, the scriptures and what they believe in, followed by a general organizational meeting. Everyone we met during our stay was very faithful (in fact, they all knew for themselves that the „gospel of Jesus Christ“ is true!) and involved in the church community.
The next week, we got to hike in Arches National Park, a giant sandstone area where big arches have formed over the last thousands of years when sediment was slowly removed by rainwater. Our hike to Delicate Arch was a bit strenuous though, after we had 1/2 pound Baconators™ for lunch and had to walk over an hour during the hot noon sun, but the impressive view when we finally got there was totally rewarding.
On friday evening, our host Justin brought home big bottles of liquid nitrogen from the physics department, and showed us how to make ice cream at home: you always need more nitrogen.
That sunday, we had to skip the last hour of church so we would be able to watch the World Cup final. Germany won, which we celebrated by driving the car around the block screaming. The few Americans we met did not seem to understand why.
Monday morning at 6 we went for a spontaneous scenic flight with Mr. Openshaw, who lived a few hundred feet down our street. He’s got a little propeller driven plane he maintains himself, and took us to see Provo and the Mountains behind it from above.
At the end of the week, we went on a three day journey to the south of Utah, where we lived in little condos in St. George, and visited Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park and an all-you-can-eat Steak restaurant.
A few days before we went home, we finished our machining projects: we built a soda-bottle rocket launcher! It holds the bottle in place whilst you fill it with compressed air, and releases it as soon as you pull on a piece of string.
The night of our farewell BBQ, we took the opportunity to get all the american foods we wanted to take home at 3:00 AM, which felt pretty unique.
That was the end of our amazing journey, that felt like it barely started, and suddenly ended with a hat.