Alumni Spotlight: Otema Yirenkyi


Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program because I had never done a Study Abroad program before, and I badly wanted to participate in one at least once in my college life. So, I searched through my school’s website and found the CIEE Summer Global Internship Program. It was a great way to have a learning experience and a summer vacation all in one.

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

The CIEE staff were super helpful prior to the start of the trip and even during. We had online pre-departure sessions that tried to give us a fair idea of what to expect in Berlin. My Study Abroad advisor at home always encouraged me to go all out in my application process, and this help was vital in my selection for the program.

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

I am very grateful for this opportunity firstly because I am the odd one out. All the students in my program are students from the US, and I’m not. Point blank, the program was for students studying in the US, and at the time of applying, I didn’t know so I honestly applied anyway and got accepted.

When I found out, I’d already been accepted, and so I continued with the application process while letting them know I studied in Ghana. Moral of the story: don’t be afraid to try new things even when you’re not 100% sure of it. I loved telling people I was from Ghana and correcting the plenty of stereotypes they had about Ghana and Africa.

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

My program consisted of an internship and online leadership course which was linked to my internship. My work as a social media managing intern was flexible, and most of my work was done from home except when I had to go in on certain days to meet my boss. When I wasn’t working or submitting assignments, I was going out to eat and chill with the friends I met here. I was also doing touristy stuff on our weekly Berlin tours organized by CIEE.

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

I was kind of nervous about going to a city on my own where I had no friends and family. However, it was a challenge I had set up for myself, and that’s how I psyched my mind for it. I also didn’t know how I would react to people who are totally different from me in terms of culture and traditions.

Reading about Germany and having an open mind helped me greet new experiences whole-heartedly. Coming to Berlin has made me learn to accept people who are different from me without judging anyone. This was even made easier because Berlin is very cosmopolitan, and I felt even more welcome too.

What were your favorite things about Berlin?

In Berlin, I ate Egyptian food, Italian food, Thai food, Korean food, Indonesian food, Argentinian food, just to mention a few. I was in one city but it was like I had been around the world in just a span of two months.

Side note: I love that I came to Berlin and made friends who pushed me to be more adventurous. I travelled outside of Berlin to Hamburg and Prague, and it was beautiful. If you get the chance… do explore!