Alumni Spotlight: Keyla Higa

Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program because it works well with my majors and IES works with my university, which means grade transfers is automatic and takes shorter time in process. When I searched for different programs and class offerings, I thought that IES had a pretty good options and the classes are interesting. Those classes gave me new perspective and greater understanding about the history and culture of Germany especially Berlin.

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

IES has this pre-departure information that covers basic information and expectations for academics and daily life. They pretty much organize everything including accommodations. IES sent a survey for students related to housing as we will be paired with a host family. Students must organize their flight to and from the city on their own, as we have different schedules.

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

Going abroad is a time where you can learn more about yourself, what you like and what you don't like. Studying abroad is all about exploring and trying new things, go beyond your comfort zone. I think keeping an open mind is really important. If I can do it again, I will have a list of places I want to go, before arriving in Berlin, and try to check it off while abroad. I thought I have a lot of time to search and explore, but time passes so quickly when we enjoy.

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

I take classes four out of the five working days, which means I have a three-day weekend. I managed to have morning classes, so I can spend the rest of the day exploring the city and doing homework. I would do independent travels on some weekends or go places with my host family like picnic or going to the zoo.

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

The program I took was a language program which makes it my biggest fear. My goal was to be able to apply the language and speak better, but at the same time I am also scared to speak with other native speakers. But I just try to speak German as much as I can and I also practice with my host family. Practice really makes it perfect.