Why did you pick this program?
The curriculum at my school requires us to fulfill so many credits in natural and social sciences as well as the humanities. I decided to do this by learning a language then spending a semester abroad in a country where the language was spoken. It just so happened that IES offered an environmental science-based program in Germany that allowed students to live and study in the Black Forest! It fit both my major and my dream of learning a new language.
What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?
DO IT. If there's a way, find it. Going abroad opens your eyes to the true diversity and struggles of the people in our world. Not only will you meet people who could become your new best friends, you'll make lasting memories and get to live in a new country. It's life changing in the best of ways.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
Try everything! Go to a soccer game, find the bonfire spot near Littenweiler, hike all around the city, have potlucks in each others' dorms, eat döner on the blue bridge, etc. Some of it may seem silly or out of the way, but it's definitely worth the memories.
What's your favorite story to tell about your time abroad?
Well, I did punch a guy in the face at Oktoberfest (he deserved it, in my defense). But I would have to say talking about our class trip to the Swiss Alps or Vosges Mountains. The hikes were breathtaking (literally and figuratively), the nights full of fun in our rooms, and the food was superb as usual. The accompanying pictures are the best part.
What were the classes like?
The classes were so cool! The program is set up in a 5-module system, so you take an intensive 3-week German course almost as soon as you get there. Then, you take 4 3-week modules the rest of the semester. You usually get a couple of days off over the 3-week period, and at most you're spending 3-4 hours in the classroom. For some classes, you hike every other day for class. It's weird at first, but I definitely miss focusing on just one subject.