Why did you choose to study abroad?
It has been a dream of mine since middle school to travel Europe. With the busyness of life and the vast expense, I never believed traveling to Europe was an option I could consider. Sometime in the first two weeks of my freshman year at Grove City, I realized that studying abroad was a viable and completely affordable option. I love adventure, language and exploration of the history and way of life of other cultures. Needless to say, I was in the study abroad office the second week of freshman year and did not stop thinking about the endless possibilities until I went to Berlin the spring of my junior year.
How did you choose the country you went to?
There were numerous reasons I chose Germany. German is my minor, and so I wanted a chance to improve my language skills. The most influencing factor in my choice, however, was my heritage. My Oma (grandmother in German) grew up in Nazi Germany and immigrated to the US in the mid-1950s. I grew up eating delicious German food, surrounded by the language (spoken by my Hungarian grandfather as well), and hearing stories of various relatives who lived over there. My sophomore year of college, I took Dr. Wyneken’s Modern Germany course and my thirst for German history became insatiable. Plus, Germany (Berlin especially) is centrally located in Europe and not too difficult to travel from.
Share one unique experience that happened while you were abroad.
My first day in Berlin I got horribly lost. Berlin is a sprawling city of 4 million people covered with a vast network of trains and buses. Coming from a small town outside Detroit, Michigan, where all public transportation was mostly disabled in the 1920s to boost the car industry, I had never really used public transportation by myself. Day one in Berlin, slightly jetlagged and knowing only two stop names in the entire city, I stepped out onto the street outside my house and got on a bus, a bus whose number I neglected to check. Needless to say, my stop never came, and 20 minutes later the bus route ended and everyone had to get off. Alone and scared, I disembarked into a mass of buses and people with no idea where I was or which bus I had ridden. Oddly calm, I approached an older woman and asked her in my best German how to get to Dahlem-Dorf. When it became apparent that I was only catching bits and pieces of her directions, she gestured for me to follow her onto the bus that had just arrived and rode with me to the stop that connected with the bus I needed, all the while telling me about her children (I think). I am eternally thankful for whoever that woman was who took pity on a lost and terrified girl. Without her I might still be lost in Berlin.
How has it changed you?
In general I have always been a confident person, but navigating my way through eight countries and 22 cities over the course of four months made me even more confident in myself. It also showed me that I could achieve the things I wanted to achieve in my life and not allow myself to be hindered by social constructs. It expanded my horizons and showed me there is a whole world to be explored.