For Theresa Kiernan, a senior communications major from Bedford, N.H., the culture shock of moving from New Hampshire to Alabama simply was not enough.
“I wanted to learn and experience more than I would by staying at my university in America and to grow as a person through my world travels.”
Kiernan decided to spend her senior year abroad in Mannheim, Germany where she is studying Spanish, German, media and communications.
Over an email correspondence, Kiernan explained how her studies work at the University of Mannheim.
Her classes are made up of three part lessons with the amount of students from about a hundred students to several hundred students. Her lessons include lectures, exploratory exercises and tutorial sessions led by former students. She said that this structure is different but is a great way to “integrate many students into a course.”
If the new system is not enough excitement – the location of her classes has got her excited.
“I am staying in a small city in Germany and studying in the 2nd largest Baroque palace in Europe,” Kiernan said. “The experience so far has been unreal, I can not believe I am in Europe! I have been taking classes, meeting friends from all over the world and learning a new language.”
She said that making the adjustment to the German culture has been somewhat of a challenge, but her new experiences go way beyond the challenges.
Kiernan identified language as one of these challenges saying that before her trip she had “limited knowledge of the German language.”
“Many German students who also know English live in my apartment, and they have helped me to learn and speak more,” Kiernan said. “But it hasn’t been too hard to adjust or get what I need to in Germany, because almost everyone speaks English, so I can assimilate very easily into the culture.”
Overall, Kiernan said she would encourage other Troy students to venture out on a study abroad trip.
“This experience has opened up the world to me – literally,” Kiernan said. “It’s been amazing to meet new friends, take classes and see sights that I have only seen in movies and books. Studying abroad is a unique experience that you cannot receive elsewhere. I would highly recommend it for every student.”
When asked how she came to be a part of Troy’s study abroad program, Kiernan explained the process with ease.
“I applied with a program called the Federation of German-American Clubs and was placed at Mannheim University to study,” Kiernan said. “There was some paperwork to do with Troy and then some legal things (passport, student visa, registration) that needed to happen when I arrived in Germany, but it went smoothly thanks to the help my advisor from my study abroad program.”
To keep account of her trip, Kiernan is keeping an online blog entitled “Swan Stories,” and she invites students and teachers to follow her blog at www.swansstories.wordpress.com.