Studying abroad was truly an invaluable experience that changed me as a person for the better by increasing my understanding of the world and of others. Throughout my 6 week long trip, I met so many new people and saw as many new things – things and people I’d never see in my bubble. I had always heard about people experiencing culture shock, but honestly, I felt right at home. The experience has inspired me to keep travelling to experience as many cultures as I possibly can.
Firstly, I’ll discuss my program. The USAC Program was amazingly designed and operated. It felt like a close-knit group even just a week in. There were probably almost 30 students in the program from various parts of the United States and many of us lived in an off-campus student housing complex. Leuphana University is a very international school, so most of the people in our complex were not German. My two roommates were Turkish and Moldovan. Interacting with them was really great and gave me two friends I’d never have made if I didn’t come. The classes were so educational. My German language class was led by an amazing professor, one of the best I’ve ever had. My other class on Nazi Germany was eye-opening to say the least and that professor was also very good and encouraged the best from us. They both provided me with so much insight into German culture and the education system.
Moving on to my experiences, I saw many things in my travels that I wish desperately would be in the USA. Firstly, the architecture was spectacular. Truly, nothing could have prepared me for it. In Germany, suburbs don’t really mean the same thing as they do in America. Suburbs are often towns up to an hour outside of major cities that have populations of over 50,000 and are distinct in identity, not part of the larger city’s identity like how my hometown is with Memphis. Many of these towns were constructed in the medieval period of German history and still have extensive old town districts with walls and the typical buildings of German Gothic architecture. Lüneburg, Lübeck, and Rostock were especially like this. I am biased to Lüneburg considering it was my base town in my trip, but Rostock was probably my favorite in terms of architecture. Additionally, public transit was phenomenal. I could essentially get anywhere in Germany for 9 euros a month – a summer transit ticket promotional by Deutsche Bahn that includes buses and regional trains, covering local and intercity travel. For me, the way the government is arranged to allow such extensive public outreach and subsidization all for the welfare of their citizens is something I really admire about Germany and hope for the best for America.
James Townsend (BA History) spent Summer 2022 studying abroad in Lüneburg, Germany through USAC. James had the following to say about studying abroad, “Studying abroad changed my whole perspective and was an eye-opening experience that I’ll never forget. Not only has it sparked dreams about moving permanently, but it has given me a greater understanding of others which is something that you can’t put a price on.”
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