Since returning home from a semester in Tübingen, Germany, many of my friends and family have been inquiring about my favorite aspect of study abroad. Every time I am asked, I get the chance to reflect and choose the moments and experiences that were the most special to me.
I could tell them about my experience at the Goethe-Institut, for example. During two months in Schwäbisch Hall, I had the opportunity to make friends from all over the world while at first living with a host family and then in student dorms.
I could also tell them about how easy it was to travel in Europe. Study abroad was an amazing opportunity to experience not only the culture of Baden Württemberg, Germany, but also the cultures in the areas surrounding me. Taking the train was a unique, liberating experience that taught me how to fend for myself in difficult situations that were even further complicated by a language barrier.
Furthermore, I could tell them about my personal experience as an international student at the Universität Tübingen, a German university. The city itself is a beautiful college town and there is an obvious emphasis on natural outdoor leisure spaces, which are well enjoyed by its citizens. There were regular community events such as the Stocherkahnrennen, a punting boat race, and clubhouse parties hosted by the university which allowed me to get to know my classmates and the locals. As a student, the classes I took were engaging and there were plenty of international students in each class, which made me feel right at home.
All of these experiences taught me valuable lessons and led to my favorite part of studying abroad: the new perspective it gave me when I returned home. Seeing how other cultures live and look at the world around them reshaped the way that I see my world and made me more sensitive to the circumstances that surround me. This perspective will be invaluable to me as I continue my scholarly work as a member of the first cohort of students in the Transcultural Studies Masters program here at the University of Michigan. In time, I hope that this experience will prove useful to me as I continue in my pursuit of higher education.
Spending a term abroad was the perfect capstone for my degree and it taught me lifelong lessons in independence, spontaneity, and self-confidence. I am grateful to my advisors at the University of Michigan for recommending this program to me and for helping me every step of the way. I am especially thankful for the Sturm Family Scholarship I received to make this experience possible.