Far before I stepped foot on UA’s beautiful campus, let alone knew I would be attending UA, I knew that I wanted to study abroad at least once while in college. I had heard from high school teachers and other mentors that a study abroad trip was a transformative experience, filled with unforgettable memories, and so the idea of going to another country for college credit had been on my mind for quite some time. When I got to UA, I decided to take German because it was a language I felt tied to: my hometown, Cincinnati, is steeped in German heritage; and my family has a few fluent German speakers.

During my first semester of German, my professor told us of the study abroad programs that UA’s German department offered to students. As I geared up for Thanksgiving break, I researched and settled on the fantastic UA in Germany: Language and Culture program.  The program entails four weeks in Berlin, enrolled in a German language course at the historic Humboldt University, and one week in Munich. For the duration of the program, two professors from Alabama would lead us to important sites around Berlin and Munich, telling us about the historical and cultural importance of each site. These sight-seeing adventures would act as a second “class,” focused on German history and culture.

The program sounded great, and my parents were supportive, and so I applied for it—and got accepted! This will be the first time I’ve ever left the country, so it’s quite a milestone for me. I made sure to do plenty of research on what to pack for an international trip, and what I’ve heard has been to pack light. I got a backpack which I’ll use as my suitcase (Osprey Porter 46 Liter, to be exact) and I plan on bringing five shirts, three pairs of shorts, and one pair of pants—light, but hopefully not too light! I’m making sure to see my family as much as possible before I leave. It’s a big event for me and them because I’m quite close to my family, so going to a completely new continent for more than a month will be taxing.

I’m a bit nervous, but my excitement outweighs my nervousness. I’m simply taking it one day at a time as I get closer and closer to my departure, trying to enjoy the time I have with my family and friends. I’ve thought a bit about the political tenseness that is present throughout the world, and centered in the EU, but I don’t think that this will have any effect on my trip. People are still people, no matter what the present political situation may be.

I don’t have many expectations for my trip because I want the experience to unfold naturally. Meeting plenty of people and understanding what daily life is like for Berliners and Münchner (people from Munich) are my two goals for my time in Germany. I want to hear a different perspective of the world than the one that I have, and the only way to do that is to get out there and interact with people from all over the world. I’m very lucky to have the opportunity to study abroad, and I can’t wait for my trip to start!