Heather spends a daytrip hiking through Freiburg's Black Forest.
Overseas Study Program
Heather’s major: German Education
Year abroad: Academic Year 2008-2009
Reason you chose this program: I wanted to become fluent in German, so I decided an academic year program would best fit that goal.
Favorite classes: Struktur des Deutschen: a German linguistics class that was really in-depth and interesting!
Describe the housing situation: I lived in Vauban, an eco-friendly area on the south side of Freiburg. I had 8 roommates (mostly Germans) who lived with me in a large apartment. It was a fantastic situation because I was within walking distance of multiple grocery stores, restaurants, the tram and bus stops. I was also just 10 minutes from the University campus.
Best Memory: Turning in my Linguistics exam with an IES form to my AI and seeing his astonishment that I wasn't German!
Experience with culture shock or reverse culture shock: Coming back to the U.S. was incredibly difficult. You see your country in such a different light, and it's hard not to be able to talk with people about your experiences. People who haven't studied abroad may not understand all that has changed within you and the things from your host country that you miss. Be prepared for re-integration to take longer than you might expect.
Complete this sentence: If I could do it over, I would... have gotten more involved in my first months in Freiburg. It wasn't until December that I became more integrated into the culture and started developing deeper relationships. If I would have only gone for a semester, I would have missed out on the best months of my study abroad experience.
What you know now that you didn't know before going abroad: I understand the immense value of spending an extended time in a different country and culture and am more motivated to go abroad again.
Greatest Challenge: Figuring out how to be yourself and express yourself in another language. It took a couple of months for me to be fluent and comfortable enough to talk and act like I normally would in an English-speaking country.
Advice to Future Study Abroad Participants: Take advantage of every opportunity available to you in your study abroad location. Get out and do new things that you wouldn't be able to experience in the States.