By: Natalie Engle '21
Out of all the opportunities I've had at Mount, so far, studying abroad has been one of the very best. Ever since I found out about the study abroad programs that Mount Union offers, I have wanted to go to Germany. There were certainly more than a few setbacks while I was working to come over here, but it was all worth it. I had to wait for more than three semesters to be able to study abroad in Germany, due to Covid-19, but I wouldn’t give up this opportunity for the world.
Even though I had never taken a German track before Mount, I dove straight into the language. I found German a very intuitive language to learn, and I fell in love with the language and culture I learned about. I've noticed that much of my German courses at Mount Union prepared me for many of the cultural experiences I have had as well as a great intro at breaking the language barrier. Additionally, many of my classes not related to German or Germany have helped me as well. I have spent a lot of my time in the social sciences and humanities which has benefited me in learning and understanding the political atmosphere here as well as having the opportunities to have conversations with others about both Germany and America.
Once I arrived in August, I thought I was the luckiest person in the world, especially after trying for nearly two years to come over. Now I realize each day I get to spend in Europe learning and experiencing the culture, I am luckier and luckier. The entire country of Germany is beautiful and so is the rest of Europe. One of the most fun things I have done since I arrived is traveling. I have done a fair bit of traveling within Germany so far, but I have also gone to Denmark and the Netherlands. I have plans coming up to also go to France and Austria. That, in my opinion, is one of the best parts of being in Germany. I could never have expected an experience quite like this and would never have guessed that I would get to have this opportunity.
One of my best suggestions is to just do it and study abroad. I realize that I will never have a chance again to travel like I am doing now unless I move to Europe, so I truly believe that it is so incredibly worthwhile to do this. I am meeting people from all over the world who I can talk to, learn from, and appreciate. I am learning more about myself more and more every day. If you do choose to study abroad, I suggest to just be willing to go with the flow. Do what you want to every weekend and find things that you enjoy doing at home and keep doing them once you get to your place abroad.
As with any new experience, there are challenges. I had to leave my friends and family and my fiancé and our dog at home. It has been difficult to be away from all my loved ones, but I have also learned an invaluable lesson, that I can be independent and confident. I have realized that if I can talk to the people I love; I can curb my homesickness and focus much more thoroughly on myself and making the best experience here that I possibly can. This has truly become the best opportunity of my life.