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Four seminars in 28 days

Filed in Blog, Germany by on August 23, 2018
by Elizabeth G.

While my time at Philipps-Universität Marburg lasted only one month, it was a exciting and uniquely challenging experience. Through this program, I was able to visit Germany and participate in several condensed classes and seminars. Our topic was “Germany and Europe in a Turbulent World”, and I chose seminars relating to capitalism, feminism, minorities and, of course, German language. As a student studying animal science I was apprehensive about participating in political science classes, since I had no prior background in the field. However, I wanted to improve my German speaking skills and I was excited to expand my knowledge on these topics from an international perspective. I also strongly believed in the potential of this program to make me a more conscientious and well-rounded individual. This is especially important in today’s globalized world, regardless of one’s field of study.

When I arrived in Germany, I was first amazed by the beauty of the old architecture. Most buildings were several hundred years old, at least, and many cities had their own castles. I spent the first few days exploring the cobblestone streets, talking with fellow students, and getting into the swing of my seminars. As for the culture, it was fairly similar to that of the United States, except for a few differences. Overall, it seemed a little more orderly than the U.S. and people were very environmentally conscious. Waste was organized into clearly labelled bins and the public transportation systems were reliable and punctual. I was surprised by the lack of air conditioning and ice drinks, especially during the heat wave that lasted the duration of time I was there. People from Germany are associated with the stereotype of being cold and humorless, but the people I met were often friendly and understanding of my limited German skills. In fact, most were glad I was putting in the effort to speak with them.

View of yellow and white houses and buildings on the edge of river .

Riverside buildings in Heidelberg, Germany.

Along with being immersed in German culture, I also got to know other students in the program who came from all around the world. My classes had students from Australia, Africa, the United Arab Emirates, China, Korea and Canada, just to name a few. It was really interesting to hear about their perspectives and experiences, since they were often very different from my own. For example, I was surprised by individual definitions of feminism. Students from western societies wanted to discuss wage gaps, while others from more conservative areas just wanted to see more women working in general. These classes, while they were very short, challenged my views through open discussions and helped me better understand important topics in today’s world. We also went on trips to several cities, such as Strasburg, Weimar and Frankfurt, to understand the culture and historical significance of these locations. It was amazing to see many people from different backgrounds come together in one place to learn.

These seminars, class excursions, and the overall experiences of studying abroad have had a positive impact on me. I believe I reached my initial goals of this program – to expand my education and to gain international perspective – as well as several others. I feel more confident after the new, unfamiliar situations I have been in, and more comfortable communicating with people from vastly different cultures and backgrounds. This experience took me out of my comfort zone, but I am delighted I made the decision to study abroad. It sounds cliché, but after studying abroad, it is definitely something I would recommend other students do. It does not matter what major or field of study one is in; studying abroad is an eye-opening experience regardless.

Several dozens of students standing in front of large glass parliament building.

Entire class in front of the European Parliament building in Strasbourg, France.

About the blogger

Elizabeth G. is studying abroad on the Philipps-Universität Marburg: International Summer Universities program in Marburg, Germany.

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