After working in Germany for two months, two business students from Hong Kong Polytechnic University are glad to be back to the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong. Amy Cheuk Wai-man and Emily Lam Mei-yee are third-year students majoring in Languages with Business. Both study German intensively in the programme. During the summer holidays, the school arranged internship placements for them to work in the town of Reutlingen, in southern Germany. The purpose of the trip was to familiarise the students with German culture and its business world. Although Amy and Emily worked at different companies, they both discovered on their first day of work that the working environment in Germany was totally different from that of Hong Kong. The students said the Germans worked in a relaxed and laid-back manner. 'Work is planned ahead and on schedule, but it is also less flexible,' said Amy, who worked at a daily newspaper. She said the Germans were less capable of handling crises because they always followed what they had planned. The students were also shocked to find a simple bank transaction took as long as two days to complete. 'After I deposited some money through a bank machine, I had to wait two days before my bank book was updated,' said Emily, who worked at a bank. 'It's the same when you withdraw money. I never knew how much I actually had in my account!' She said one of her classmates transferred some money to her from another city in Germany, but she received the money only several working days later. The students were bored on Sundays, as all the shops were closed. 'I think the Germans are bored too. That's why so many of them have dogs,' Emily said. But after some time, the students began to discover the brighter side of life. The social system was well developed, and business was conducted in a fair and honest manner. The students said the lack of competition allowed people to be more relaxed and less money-oriented. The students were also impressed by the German youths' independence. 'They start travelling on their own at 10 or 11. By the time they become young adults, they are already independent and live alone,' Emily said. 'Even the elderly are independent. An old woman fell when we were walking, and we tried to help her, but she refused our offer.' Although both students found it relaxing to work in Germany, they preferred the fast pace of Hong Kong life. 'Reutlingen is a good place for retired people, not for the young and energetic.'