Mary Lauren P’s Story

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“From talking with Germans who lived in Berlin during the Cold War to hearing the stories of Syrian refugees living in Berlin, each new thing I learned etched itself into my mind.”

“Von Gesprächen mit Deutschen, die während des Kalten Krieges in Berlin gewohnt haben, bis hin zu Geschichten über syrische Flüchtlinge, die in Berlin wohnen, jedes neue Wissen, das ich gelernt habe, ist mir eingeprägt.”

During college, I have been fortunate enough to study abroad twice. The first time I spent a month in Berlin and a week in Munich. This program proved much simpler than my later study abroad experience. For my second experience, I took part in a year-long exchange with Freie Universität Berlin. This required much more preparation and work during the exchange than my previous program abroad. It truly gave me the feeling of moving to another country. Doing so allowed for me to learn how to be independent without help from family or friends. Becoming an adult is hard enough, but becoming an adult while living in another country where you do not know anyone is crazy. Living in Berlin gave me access to up close accounts of important topics in my field of International Relations. The incredible professors, friends, and individuals I met there have changed the way I look at so many things in life. From talking with Germans who lived in Berlin during the Cold War to hearing the stories of Syrian refugees living in Berlin, each new thing I learned etched itself into my mind.      
Studying abroad has allowed me to attend world-class universities while paying the tuition of my home university. I have met friends from around the globe who have provided me different ideas and views on certain matters. Each dollar that I invested into the exchange showed me great return in knowledge and experience. It has been one of the most meaningful and most difficult things I have ever done. I would encourage everyone to step outside their comfort zone and take a look at something different than what they expose themselves to on a daily basis. It may not be easy, but it is an essential part of becoming a more aware citizen of any country.