The fascination with experiencing another country and culture drove Aubrey Toole, a senior biomedical sciences major from Pace, Fla., to rush to apply for a study abroad opportunity in Germany this semester.
Toole had less than two weeks to apply to study at the University of Heidelberg and was accepted into the school.
“I had to decide if this opportunity was correct for me, get recommendations from teachers, transcripts from both college and high school, and I had to write a letter in German,” Toole said. “There was one major problem, I knew only two words of German.
“I was able to find a German student studying at Troy who translated for me.”
Once Toole was accepted into the school, she still had to search for courses with credits that would transfer back to Troy before she could leave.
Toole explained how different the school system and curriculum in Germany are when compared with Troy University.
“First of all, students don’t pay much for their classes,” Toole said. “Most classes are not connected with tuition.
“Students pay a fee to an organization that helps support the university and for living expenses, but for the most part, their education is free.”
For this reason, Toole said that the classroom structure is much different and that the professors are not as connected with the students as they are at Troy.
“There are some classes that only meet once or twice for the whole semester, but you are required to do your own work outside of class,” she said.
“Students usually schedule their own exams. Exams and final papers can even be completed after the completion of the semester. The student just doesn’t receive their Scheine (grade) until later.”
The language barrier was a problem to begin with for Toole, but she found that most Germans speak a little English and find it helpful to practice their English with a native speaker.
“The younger generation and some students love to speak English,” Toole said. “It is still a challenge when I’m shopping at a grocery store or trying to find my way to a specific place.
“I want to speak their language and don’t want to rely on the comforts of English.”
Toole is taking a course in German as a foreign language to improve her ability to communicate.
Despite the difficulties with communicating, Toole said the experience has been incredible so far.
“It’s been tough,” she said. “There are days that I wish I were still in the U.S., but the experience of extending yourself, knowing more of who you are and broadening your horizons is well worth it.
“I feel as though I’ve grown quite a bit and gained a greater knowledge of who I am while I’ve been here.”