According to the University of California at Merced, eighty four percent of “study abroad alumni felt their studies abroad helped them build valuable skills for the job market” (University of California at Merced). Personally, this study felt very intertwined to my experiences studying the Holocaust this May. This immersive experience was life changing for me! While I had a COVID scare during my trip that I would discover to be pneumonia, I was able to learn a significant amount throughout my time in Germany. Studying abroad showcased how much my horizons could expand in my career field, taught me how to be resourceful in a new environment, and learn language skills.
While in Germany, I had the opportunity to learn more regarding the use of propaganda to heighten racial and ethnic tensions during World War ll. Our class visited two archive centers specializing in contemporary history where we were able to examine documents from this era in history such as the racial hierarchy seen in children’s books as well as documents from Auschwitz. These documents created a clear picture of the progression of ethnic tensions and strife to the scale of mass genocide. This was a very eye opening experience for me! It allowed me to learn more regarding the field of archiving which is valuable for me as a history secondary education to have this knowledge as a future educator.
These experiences translated into learning more regarding the intricacies of German culture. During my time, I taught myself how to navigate train systems, trams, and ride share services which was a very fun experience. I learned how to become self reliant and it gave me a significant amount of independence. By learning more about German culture, I was able to learn how to ask the right questions which gave me more freedom to move around such as learning about student discounts to world class museums such as the Bode museum and about ride share and taxi services such as Bolt which saved me a significant amount of money!
Lastly, I learned not to be afraid of exploration and to branch out into the unknown! I am the first person in my family to go abroad, and it was very nerve racking for my parents to send me to a faraway place. This fear naturally spread to me as well once I arrived in Germany, especially with the amount of racial unrest ex. Having to walk through a racist protest during my time in Berlin. Thus, I was slightly afraid of walking alone; however, I was able to grow very accustomed to Germany quicker than I thought, and learned how to “roll with the punches”, so to speak. Also, I was able to pick up language skills that I was not expecting such as learning how to read maps and subway routes in German. These efforts in language furthered my ability to make connections with people and learn about opportunities such as visiting a castle. Suffice it to say, I had an amazing experience studying abroad and I hope I am blessed to do it again one day!
Madison Cothern (BS Secondary Education: History) spent several weeks of May 2022 in Germany as part of a faculty-led trip linked with a UTC course. Madison had the following to say about study abroad, “Go out, explore, and have fun!”
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