Why did you choose this program? I chose this program because I was interested in studying the European Union; and since this program included extensive travel throughout Europe where we would meet with diplomats, translators, journalists, and politicians, that further solidified my decision to choose this program!
Describe your favorite class(es) abroad. I enjoyed my German course, which for me was my introduction to the German language. I also learned a lot through taking The European Union and the Muslim World.
What was the housing like on your study abroad program? There were various apartments dispersed throughout the city. We were placed quite randomly, but based off of whether we preferred a single or living with others. Those living with others were often placed with other German and international students.
What advice would you like to give to future study abroad students? Step outside of your comfort zone! You already made the incredible decision to study abroad, and successfully made it to a foreign land after months of planning, why not do some things you wouldn’t be able to do at home? Join a club, try different cuisines, explore your city, meet locals, volunteer, whatever catches your attention. It may seem like you have a lot of time, but it goes by so quickly. So take advantage of it while you can.
What’s your best memory from your time abroad? My best memory from my time abroad was going to Madrid. I fell in love with the city instantly and plan on returning in the near future. It felt like a mix between various cities I had travelled to before.
What was your biggest surprise about the location, culture or other aspects of your program? There is a thriving Turkish population that lives in Germany! I was shocked to see so much Turkish food offered in Freiburg, but it felt like a taste of home since my dad is from Iraq and the food is very similar. Another thing which was surprising to me is how difficult the classes were as compared to IU courses. I was always busy with school work, but in the end I learned so much since I was able to apply what I learned to the meetings and visits we had to EU insitutions.
Describe your experience with culture shock or reverse culture shock. I didn’t experience much culture shock since Germany is a Western country and doesn’t stray too far from the American way of life. Upon returning home however, I did experience a bit of reverse culture shock just due to the shift in environment. I went from a lifestyle of walking, taking the tram, adventuring in Europe, and being surrounded by people speaking a language I didn’t understand, back to what I grew up with in the matter of hours. It took a couple of weeks to feel “normal.” And it was also very difficult describing the many life-changing experiences I had with family and friends back home since they had not experienced what I experienced. But you can always stay reconnected with friends you met while abroad who do understand what you went through.
“If I could do it over, I would...”
Travel more! In Europe travelling is quite cheap and easy. I wish I would have spent more of my free weekends exploring the continent. I also wish I would have chosen the housing option where I was placed with German students as a way to feel more integrated into the culture and language.
What do you know now that you didn’t know before you went abroad? Some days you will feel on top of the world, and others you’ll feel really sad for no reason. Just make sure you have a good support system both at home but also in your host country. Being with others who understand what you’re going through is the best cure to a tough time. Also, if you get sick, which you most likely will, please go to the doctor! I neglected my health for awhile and that just made everything worse.
What do you wish someone had told you before you left? You will feel things you’ve never felt before. This is normal. You are not alone, everyone who studies abroad feels these things. Sometimes they’re good feelings, sometimes they’re not. Just don’t keep these feelings to yourself. In fact, I bonded really well with my study abroad friends because of the rollercoaster of emotions you feel when studying abroad. But all in all, the good feelings by far outweighed the bad, it’s just that sometimes you can get overwhelmed and that’s totally ok! Just take it day by day. You will look back at all of the wonderful memories you made and feel very nostalgic.
What was your greatest challenge? Balancing my priorities. You are studying abroad, make sure you still set aside time for your studies. Eventually, I was able to find my groove with balancing friends, school, homework, travel, extracurriculars, and making sure to contact my family at home (don’t forget this)!
Discuss: “Going abroad vs. staying on campus.”
GO ABROAD! When else in your life will you have the opportunity to go abroad for months at a time while also immersing yourself in the student life of a foreign nation? I don’t know what else there is to say. You will gain so much from the experience.
What fact about your host country do you think people would be surprised to learn? Most Germans know a good amount of English. If they know you don’t speak their language very well, they will be more than happy to converse with you in your native tongue. This also goes along with the fact that Germans are very nice people! There’s the strereotype that Germans are cold, direct people but from what I experienced, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
How did you find scholarships for study abroad? I found scholarships through browsing the Overseas scholarship page! You should be able to find at least a few scholarships that you are eligible to apply for.
Would you recommend other students pursue any specific scholarship opportunities? Yes of course. I would definitely recommend checking out program-specific scholarships and provider scholarships if you are doing a co-sponsored program. Also the Hutton International Experiences Program grant; don’t worry if you aren’t a Hutton Student, you can still apply! Just make sure to check the eligibility requirements.