This past year, I was given a wonderful opportunity to spend a whole year in Heidelberg, Germany! It was like living in a place one could only imagine seeing in fairy tales. Germany has always been a second home to me, due to the fact that I attended an American high school here. Coming to college, I knew I was going to return to Germany eventually. One day in March, as I was walking to class I came across the study abroad fair on the Mall. I was able to talk to one of the study abroad coordinators and just the conversation sparked my interest to study abroad. I had visited Heidelberg once before and I was just so amazed by how beautiful it was. Once, I started to look for a program, I knew exactly where I wanted to go, because this city just seemed to give such a good impression.
Studying abroad is not cheap. Just thinking of the exchange difference from euro to dollar is a lot of money is lost. I had to make sure I had the funds for studying abroad by applying for and checking my own scholarships. I came to find out my scholarship would support my stay in Germany and plus I also received a scholarship from the state of Baden-Württemberg where Heidelberg is located. Now financially I seemed to be squared away.
Traveling and living abroad was totally a different experience for me than when I lived here with my parents. I had never felt so independent. Germany was everything and more than I hoped it would be. I had this opportunity to learn the language, the culture, and the traditions first hand. I didn’t only learn about the German culture, but cultures from around the world such as China, Spain, England, Thailand, Brazil and so on. This experience broadened my horizons. I had to learn do things I never knew one had to do. I had to apply for a living permit, learn the new school system (which is totally different from the US), and so much more! Living abroad has opened many opportunities to grow independently as individual. Just figuring out the public transportation system, going out of my comfort zone to travel to new places and speaking in a different language; this life experience was just incredible.
My time over here has influenced my dreams and goals for the future. I was so influenced, that I decided to pick up a B.A. in German Studies as my second major. This decision came easily as I came to love everything about Germany and its culture more and more.
When it came to school, I decided to challenge myself. I took every single class in German. It helped with my comprehension splendidly, even If I still may not be considered fluent, I am conversationally compete
nt. I used my time abroad to fulfill my Gen. Ed. requirements and my German major requirements, since the classes needed for Biochemistry degree were not transferable, but I did challenge myself even more to take a Biomedical/medicine class in German and not only did I learn new vocabulary in German, but also in English. There is no better way to just challenge yourself than with everything you come across. Studying abroad has taught me that everything is possible and challenging yourself makes life exciting and worthwhile. But as for all of my fellow science majors, I know we are also challenging ourselves with every step closer that we get to our goals.
Even though, my time abroad did not have to do anything with my major as a Biochemistry student, I used my free time to study and do the best I could with my academics. I wanted to take every opportunity I could as I was abroad such as traveling to other countries, staying in hostels (where you bunk with other travelers), becoming more assertive and confident with myself. I would recommend everyone to take a little time, whether it is during the summer, or a semester abroad to adventure the world on their own. It is a great opportunity to get to know yourself, while traveling the world.