Allie Schaefer, Peer Advisor
In the summer of 2014 I packed my bags for a CSU-sponsored study program in Heidelberg, Germany. I had no German vocab other than “fuβball” and “bier.” I immersed myself in German culture. Studying at SRH Hochschule Heidelberg gave me a unique classroom experience. My classes were all taught in English but my professors were from all over the world. Each of the professors’ nationalities brought something new and exciting to the classroom. The professor from London would often stroll in late and have us work through the textbook, while the German professor was always punctual and had us work in groups. While my professors may have catered to us as classes were taught in English, the city of Heidelberg definitely did not. Learning German was one of the most difficult but also rewarding experiences I have had. The German people are so friendly and helpful when they sense you are trying to speak their language. The cultural highlight during my time in Germany was watching and celebrating with them their win of the 2014 World Cup. Never have I seen so many people weep for joy over a soccer/fuβball game! They were very passionate and joyful!
For my next study abroad experience, I chose to go from a small city in Germany to one of the largest cities in the world, London! My experience in England was so different from my experience in Germany but it was every bit as amazing. I decided to go through an affiliated program, International Studies Abroad, for my second study session. While it presented its own challenges, it also provided me a wonderful opportunity to meet people from all across the United States. I was nervous about living in a major city but I quickly found the city to be as big and as culturally diverse as you want it to be. London is divided into several different cultural hubs, allowing any person from any background to find where they feel they fit in best and are most comfortable. I attended the University of Westminster which was located in the heart of the city, right next to the BBC headquarters. Since it was located in the heart of London, the campus buildings and campus culture was different from anything I had previously experienced. The classes I attended had very little group work but focused more on discussions and debates. London quickly became my favorite city in the world! London’s vast cultural diversity led to my experience being filled with exposure to amazing ethnic dining delights, surprisingly competitive weekly Welsh pick-up soccer games and incredible, culturally diverse, international friends. There is nothing you can learn in a classroom that compares to the life lessons you learn when you are physically immersed and experiencing daily life in a different country.