Chris stands alongside the city landmark, offering a view of Freiburg and the mountainous border between Germany and France.
Overseas Study Program
Chris’s majors: German
Year abroad: Academic Year 2009-10
Reason you chose this program: I wanted to spend a full year in Germany to become fluent in modern High German and to learn about the culture firsthand (the only way to learn about a culture!).
Favorite classes: Einführung in das bilinguale Lehren und Lernen (Introduction to Bilingual Teaching and Learning); Deutsche Sprachinseln (German Language Islands); Immigrations- und Integrationspolitik im europäischen Vergleich (Problems in Comparative Politics)
Describe the housing situation: I lived in a Wohngemeinschaft (student apartment complex) with 12 apartments. Half of my roommates were German, and the other half included people from the USA, France, Portugal, Greece, Bulgaria, and China.
Complete this sentence: If I could do it over, I would... have traveled more, taken more language courses, visited friends more, seen more movies, gone to more cultural events, and spent more time with my tandem partner and international friends.
Best memory: The end of the year, thinking about the time spent in Germany and Europe, the great friends I made and the experiences that will last a lifetime.
Biggest surprise: How interested the students were in me as an American/international student and how willing they were to help me better my language skills.
Greatest challenge: I did not go home the entire year. This was my first experience being completely independent and it was very difficult, not being able to see my family. Thankfully, Skype is there!
Going abroad versus staying on campus, discuss: My #1 argument for study abroad is that students should spend more time learning about things firsthand. Do not think that sitting in a classroom learning a foreign language offers you anywhere near the same level of benefits as studying abroad does. It cannot compare. Being in another country, hearing, speaking, living the culture…that is truly learning about the culture. There is no other way to do it.
Advice to future study abroad participants: Speak as much German as you can and don’t be shy. Germans are very open, friendly, and willing to help you find things to do in the city and other places around Germany and Europe. They often know how to find the best deals!