Berlin was huge. We spent three days there, and I still feel like I barely scratched the surface. Here are some of my photos, with a post about my impressions to follow soon!
It’s been quite a while since my last update, and I apologize, but I have been busy adjusting, making friends, studying, traveling, all that jazz.
You haven’t missed much – in a nutshell, I am absolutely in love with this country, and specifically, Marburg.
This tiny town is a place I’ve made into my home. I’ve never felt so at ease, even despite knowing limited German (I’m working on it!) I know where everything is, and just when I feel as if I’ve seen all it has to offer, it surprises me again and again.
The first six weeks in Marburg, I took an intensive German language class as well as a German culture, politics and history course. Language acquisition seems to come pretty naturally to me. Spanish was easy to pick up because of its similarities to Tagalog, but I have no real background in German. I expected a huge challenge, and don’t get me wrong, it has been challenging, but that’s been part of the excitement – learning day by day, and being able to understand more and more of the world around me.
This week, I started my regular semester courses. I’m taking a German conversation course, a Shakespeare course and a linguistics course. Since my program runs from February-June, and the German semester runs from April-September, we make up for the lost credit hours in weekly tutorials. My German conversation class meets twice a week for two hours. “Page to Screen: Adaptations of Shakespeare’s Plays” meets for 2 hours in seminar (regular class with German students), and an additional 4 hours of tutorial (meeting with the professor and other students from my program), where we go over the content of the seminar and address any questions. My linguistics class is a block seminar, which means that the regular class (with the German students) is held for 4 hours on only 4 Mondays during the semester. The bulk of the course is taught in tutorial, which meets for 3 hours every week. Weird, I know.
For everyone at home wondering, I’M FINE! I’ve made friends from the midwest, Canada, New England and even San Diego – and that’s just counting the people from my program. I’ve been lucky to meet German students who are more than welcoming to us Yankees and offer help in any way they can.
Now, the juicy stuff: TRAVEL! So far, I’ve been to Wiesbaden, Gießen, Berlin and Porto. My next trips will be to Dresden, Hamburg, Zadar and hopefully one or two more cities before I go home in June! These will each be getting their own blog post, so stay tuned! Thank you for going on this journey with me, and I promise I’ll be more diligent about posting 🙂 Now, enjoy some of my favorite pictures of this wonderful little town!
München, or Munich for you uncultured folk (lol), is located in the southern German state of Bavaria. Everything you think you know about Germany is pretty much isolated to here. The dirndl, lederhosen, pretzels, sausages, Oktoberfest celebrations, braided beer maidens, etc. – all in Bavaria.
My sister and I spent two nights in Munich before our parents joined us so they could escort me to my campus in Marburg, Hessen. Munich was my gateway to the country I’m now calling home for the next few months, and in my opinion, a great place to start. Growing up and living in metropolitan areas (Los Angeles, San Diego) did not prepare me for the small town setting I’ve found myself in now, but more on that later. So, with Munich being one of the larger cities in Germany, I felt more at ease with getting accustomed to the language, food and people.
On our first night in Munich, we found ourselves at a restaurant serving an iconic late night food – currywurst. It’s basically pommes frites served with sausages in a curry sauce. I wish I had photos to show you, but I was really hungry. Use your imagination.
My first foray into German cuisine was a success. The next night, we went to Hofbräuhaus, a beer hall and landmark in Munich. Our parents hadn’t seen us in weeks, so we went all out on the beers and food. I finally got to try real schnitzel, which in this case was breaded veal fried and served with potato salad and cranberries.
At some point in the night, we made friends with a few locals who tried to buy my sister as a wife, had more than enough beer and ended up at our AirBnB absolutely STARVING. Much to my dismay, delivery after midnight isn’t a thing here. It’s probably the fact that Europeans are health-conscious. (Europe really has it all figured it out man.)
Munich was a blast. The German rail systems are flawless and easier to navigate than most other systems in the world (or so I hear.) After a solid 4 days, it was time to head west to Marburg, where I would be living for the next five months. Munich, I’ll most definitely be back. If not for the pretzels, then absolutely for the weissbier.
Thanks for reading & see you next time!
i hope you all had a fun-filled holiday and new year. i have very exciting news today! my sister, jessica, and i have just booked our flights and trains for the two and a half weeks we are spending together in europe next month!
we found some great hacker fares on Kayak for the flights, and booked through RailEurope for the Thalys trains. i’m so excited to have concrete plans (finally!), but it still feels so surreal! here’s our itinerary:
in case you’re not a visual spreadsheet-loving psychopath like me, here’s our itinerary again, but with less going on:
we also got matching patagonia backpacks (because we are extra, don’t ask) and i bought a 35mm film slr camera to document my trip. a lot of people seem genuinely worried that my sister (aka sis) and i (aka peanut) are backpacking through europe together, but i assure you, she will make it home…i cannot guarantee that i won’t fall in love with deutschland and stay forever.
just kidding, mom! i’ll be back to finish my degree, but who knows after graduation??? lol
there are 33 DAYS LEFT UNTIL WE LEAVE FOR LONDON, and i cannot wrap my head around it. i promise much more scintillating content in the coming weeks, such as how to pack everything you would need for five months in europe into a 28L backpack and carry on-sized luggage (spoiler alert: it probably cannot be done, but i digress), or how to encourage your sister that she doesn’t really need to bring those extra 16 pairs of shoes “just in case.”
don’t forget that i will also be publishing content for the SDSU Be International Blog starting in February! i’ll announce it all here, of course.
until next time & thanks for reading!
Friends, family, and loved ones,
Welcome to my blog! Its main purpose is to keep you all updated on my journey not only when I study abroad in Germany next fall, but also the steps I’m taking along the way. I also hope to be able to lend a helping hand to anyone who stumbles upon this page and has questions about studying abroad.
I am currently in my sophomore year at San Diego State University and, as many of you may know, I am studying journalism with an emphasis in public relations and double minoring in international studies and English. As an international studies minor, I am required to complete a cross-cultural comparison on a chosen topic and, in order to do so, I am required to study abroad. However, in my case, “required” isn’t quite the word I would choose.
I have always been fascinated by the different cultures, the diverse people, and the beautiful wonders of this world. My number one goal in life is to travel to as many places as I can, and my study abroad experience is one of the first steps in doing so. I have gotten many questions in the last few months about my study abroad experience and in this post, I will do my best to answer some of them.
Honestly, there isn’t one perfect answer that I have for this question, but it seems to be the one I get asked the most. I’m drawn to Germany’s rich culture, traditions, and (inarguably) dark history, as well as the country’s self-imposed penance for events such as the Holocaust and the existence of the Berlin Wall. As one of today’s leading world superpowers, Germany’s infrastructure, economy, and vast technological advances indicate that it is truly a phoenix risen from the ashes. Aside from the country’s gorgeous landscapes and nearly flawless public transit systems, I chose Germany as the perfect country to conduct research in due to its cultural similarities and differences as compared to the United States. Munich’s annual Oktoberfest may or may not have also factored into my decision.
“When are you going?”
If I am accepted into the program I am applying to, I will be studying in Germany from August 2016 – December 2016. More likely than not, I will stay in Europe and country hop for as long as I can before I have to come back to finish up my junior year at State in mid-January 2017.
“What’s your research project on?”
My research project is going to be a cross-cultural comparison of social media’s effects on relations between businesses/brands and consumers. In layman’s terms, I’m going to be studying whether or not, and how, social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Yelp have the capacity to affect spending habits, brand loyalty, and attract new customers in college-age students in the United States and, you guessed it, Germany.
“Where are you studying?”
If all goes according to plan, I will be studying at Philipps-Universität Marburg (University of Marburg), about an hour outside of Frankfurt. This university has been around since the 1500’s and boasts alumni such as the Grimm brothers, who penned some of our most cherished fairy tales.
“What is the application process like?”
Through SDSU, there are many different programs to choose from (not surprisingly, we ranked as one of the top 25 universities in the nation for study abroad). I am applying through a program known as the International Student Exchange Program, ISEP. More specifically, I’m applying to the ISEP-Direct IUSP program. I have completed one part of the application process through SDSU and I am in the process of completing the other part. The ISEP application requires a letter of recommendation from one of the professors within my major, a personal statement, and an evaluation from the on-campus study abroad coordinator.
“Will you even be going to class while you’re abroad?”
Oh, how my parents doubt me. (Just kidding, kind of) The IUSP program I mentioned above is a program developed by the university and ISEP. It’s designed specifically to allow students to study in Germany for one semester and not worry about falling behind once they return to the U.S. (German first semester typically runs October-February while spring semester in the U.S. starts in January). For the first six weeks of the program, I will be taking only intensive German language courses as sort of an orientation period and after that time, I will be able to choose two elective classes to take in conjunction with the language courses. I would love to study English literature from a German perspective, as well as learn about criminal justice on that side of the world.
“Where else will you be going?”
Flying between countries in Europe costs around $40-$50 depending on where you’re going. While studying abroad, I plan on visiting some of the world’s fashion, art, food, and historical capitals. I would love to take a weekend trip to Berlin, spend Christmas in Paris, watch New Year’s Eve fireworks in Amsterdam, window shop in Milan, enjoy authentic pasta in Rome, learn how to ski in the Alps, taste chocolate in Belgium, frolic in the gardens of Versailles, peruse galleries in Madrid, and pay my respects at Auschwitz.
That’s all I have for now, so thank you for taking the time to read this! If you haven’t already, take a look at my “about me” page! I can’t wait to begin sharing stories with you, discuss my experiences abroad, and, indeed, welcome everyone to see Europe through my eyes.