My name is Amy and I was born and raised in Orange County. It's not a bad place to be, but I have the travel bug! After I graduate I would like to be an elementary school teacher abroad. I hope traveling and learning new languages will help me achieve that.
I never thought I would study abroad because of the costs involved. I'm so glad I talked to my financial aid advisors and found out that it was possible to experience an amazing, unforgettable year abroad!
It was really hard to leave my family and friends for a year, but I needed to see the world to grow as a person.
Simple things we take for granted, like being able to use an ATM without a dictionary, are really hard at first. This is my third day in Germany, comically struggling through daily tasks with my trusty dictionary. It's these experiences that push you to learn language faster. If you can't express yourself to other people sometimes it's hard to be yourself. Being in a foreign country is a great way to take your skills to the next level because you are learning 24/7.
My study abroad experience in Germany was particularly great because of the Preparatory Language Program (PLP). Before starting at the University of Tübingen, the beginning and intermediate students go to Horb, where another IP student and I were placed with a German host family for six weeks. We attended language classes every day and have amazing memories. My family didn't speak any English, so it really took my language abilities to the next level. And we had two fresh and amazing meals from the garden daily!
Another great part about our experience in Horb was that we got to take weekend trips to surrounding German cities. We visited Stuttgart, Heidelberg, Konstance, and Ulm—for free! This photo was taken with some fellow IP students in Heidelberg, one of my favorite cities in Germany. It is unbelievably beautiful. Another cool part about Heidelberg is that I recently discovered that my grandma, who lived in Germany until her 20's, worked there for many years.
Oktoberfest is one of those events that the whole world knows about. But the real Oktoberfest is not what people think it is. For starters, it takes place mainly at the end of September, not October. Also, each region has its own separate holidays and traditions. Oktoberfest is only celebrated in Bayern.
I have to say, Volksfest, the second largest fall fest in the country, held in Stuttgart, takes the cake. It's less expensive, bigger, and less crowded! I highly recommend it.
I started my 14-month trip on May 31, when I arrived in Madrid, Spain. I spent one month studying abroad in Spain, one month travelling for leisure, then 12 months studying in Germany. When I left the U.S., it was my first ever trip out of the States. I traveled around alone until August, when I met up with the other CSU IP students in Tübingen. This is one of the first sights I saw when I got off the train—the very famous view of the Neckar river in Tübingen. I fell in love on day one.
The neighborhood I live in is called the French Quarter, my all-time favorite place to live. It is gorgeous and perfect. The center of the city is a 20-minute walk away, and it's filled with cool, tiny shops. I step off my front doorstep, and I'm in the middle of a forest. The buildings are brightly painted and flowers line the windowsills.
These are two of the cows that live downstairs. You can often spot kids riding them around the neighborhood, especially in summer.
I started swing dancing when I was seventeen years old. It's a huge part of my life and influenced my decision of where to study abroad. The great thing is there's swing dancing in many of Germany's large cities. Although I can't go several times a week I help teach classes at my University. This is also an amazing way to meet and bond with Germans.
When choosing a study abroad country, don't forget to look for your hobbies, interests, or something special you enjoy doing.
I absolutely love German architecture and sculptures. One summer day in Horb, our host family took my host sister and me to this beautiful castle. First, we went on a hike through the Schwäbisch Alps. Every lookout we passed was breathtaking. At the very end of the hike we came to a cliff and got an amazing view of this castle. Our host family saw how excited we were and drove an extra 30 minutes so that we could climb around the actual castle. There were so many stairs but it was so worth it.
When studying abroad, dorm mates are gold! They are your best source for answers to culture questions, language, and new friends. It's fun to have people your age that can help you ease into the culture. I got really lucky with my roommates. We have a chore plan that everyone abides by, we try to have roomie cooking nights regularly, and they always help me with my homework when I need it. I strongly suggest making a strong effort to get to know your roommates while abroad.
Learn more about the study abroad program in the Germany