August 3, 2016   //   International   //   By Michael Burge


How do you sum up three months of experiences in a post, especially when those experiences have been some of the best moments of your life? I have been sitting here three days before I head to the US in my room trying to put together all I have experienced in my time in Europe. I will try and start from the beginning to how I ended up here in Hamburg, Germany.

As I was studying to become an accountant the thought of doing an employee exchange program like this never crossed my mind.  Let’s face it, accounting has never been considered the most exciting profession to be in.  I did not have the opportunity to study abroad during college, and I figured I could see the world once I retired in 40 years or so.  Then I had the opportunity to land an internship with Mueller. Besides all of the wonderful people and delicious snack carts, I was happy to learn that we have a US German Alliance, which to my surprise, included an employee exchange program.  At first I jokingly threw my name out there as a potential participant in the exchange.  As a first year employee with no German language or culture experience, I hardly expected it would come to anything.  Again to my surprise, Dave Nissen, our Managing Partner called me into his office and said something along the lines of, “Mike, we are thinking of sending you to Germany, do you want to go?” It didn’t take me long to say “Of course. sign me up!” However about 10 minutes later my more pessimistic side started to show through and I was having some doubts. Some being, I only have four months to learn German (three of which were during busy season), where am I going to live, what work could I do for the German firm, do I need a visa?  Luckily busy season was kind enough to arrive to take my mind off of those worries for a time.  All of a sudden it was April 18th and I had to leave for Europe in five days. My first task being to pack a full professional and casual wardrobe in under 50 lbs suit cases, trust me not an easy task.  Then I was at O’Hare airport ready to start my three month journey to Europe with a mix of excitement and dread.

After a nice 14 hours of travel I arrived in Hamburg and was driven to my soon to be apartment. I was quite lucky to get this apartment as it is the apartment of our exchange employee Marco. It is in a great location and came with a roommate, Max who has been a great friend for my time here in Europe who was willing to introduce me to his friends, show me the hot spots of Hamburg, and introduce me to real German soccer.  I cannot express enough gratitude to him for being a gracious host, and I hope to continue this friendship for years to come, plus it’s nice to have an excuse to come back to Germany!

I soon started my exchange at Möhrle Happ Luther, the Crowe Horwath network firm in Hamburg.  They have a wonderful new building situated on the Elbe River, and I was fortunate to get an office on the 11th, of twelve floors.  Here I developed a deeper understanding of German work culture, German financial and tax laws, and international matters.  The biggest revelation I came to was any time I thought our two systems were very different, I would realize they are quite the same, just with a few changes here and there.  The team at Möhrle Happ Luther, was very easy to work with and I thank them for their patience and understanding.

These past three months have gone by faster than I would have liked. I guess as they say time flies when you are having fun. I truly have had one of the best experiences in my life being able to travel around Europe, see different cultures, and meet some incredible people. I now know my initial anxiety was completely unwarranted as everything went perfectly. I hope that I can share my experiences with everyone back in the US and grow these relationships moving forward.

Again I want to express my gratitude to Mueller, and Möhrle Happ Luther for giving me this opportunity. It truly has been a life changing experience for me, and my only wish is that I had more time here in Europe. Now on to my next challenge, figuring out how to pack my suitcases with even more things I bought in Europe. See you soon America.