Alumni Spotlight: Victoria Patrock


Victoria Patrock is a junior at the University of Tulsa majoring in Finance and on a Pre-Med track. She is a Global Scholar and has traveled extensively in Europe.

Why did you choose this program?

Having studied in Berlin before, I knew I wanted to return one day so I jumped at the opportunity to go back. On top of that, I especially wanted to learn German; German history and culture have always fascinated me. The classes offered by CIEE Berlin perfectly matched my learning interests.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

CIEE helped me figure out what to pack and what to expect. I had to book my travel arrangements on my own.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Don't freak out when things don't go the way you planned or expected them to. What may be inconvenient or uncomfortable at first may turn out to be the best possible outcome. One of my favorite quotes is by G.K. Chesterton who says,

“An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.”

You will grow as a person when you study abroad. It's inevitable, so be open and flexible to the change when it happens. Try journaling about your daily experiences to track how you grow as a person.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

In my summer course, we were in class for three to four days a week. Each class session was three hours. We discussed assigned readings and explored the city on site visits.

There were other programmed events during the week, but most of them were optional. As a participant in this program, you will have plenty of time and freedom to explore the city as little or as much as you want.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear was not being able to communicate and get around the city. But in Berlin, that is virtually impossible. A majority of the population speaks some degree of English.

As to getting around the city, Berlin's public transportation system, the BVG, is easy to understand and navigate. Granted, it takes a few tries to get used to it, but once you do, you'll be a pro.

What was your biggest frustration? What was your biggest joy?

I missed my plane from Berlin to London because I miscalculated the amount of time it would take me to get to the airport via public transport. When I realized I wasn't going to make the flight, I cried for five minutes and then made an executive decision to be an adult. I walked up to the airline booth, paid the change fee, and booked myself for the next flight to London.

My biggest joy was getting to see President Obama and Chancellor Merkel speak at Kirchentag, or Church Day. This year's celebration was especially big because this year marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. The lines to get in were unbelievable. Two friends and I waited for hours and then ran all around Tiergarten trying to get into the main area, and I actually ended up losing them in the crowd. But it was so worth it.

Seeing two world leaders speak about the importance of unity at the Brandenburg Gate while surrounded by thousands of Germans is something I will never forget.