I participated in the Humanities II in Berlin program over the summer and realized every person—including my parents—who has ever recommended studying abroad was steering me in the right direction.
I have always loved everything about traveling: being surrounded by foreign languages, trying new and interesting foods, experiencing cultural practices unlike my own and meeting people who offer unique life stories from international perspectives.
I’m lucky enough to have been blessed with parents who highly value travel as well; they have brought me on countless trips throughout the United States and overseas. While these family vacations always proved gratifying and have shaped who I am today, nothing could replace the experience of studying abroad this summer.
With professor of political science and international relations Robert Goeckel and professor of history N. Helena Waddy leading the trip, other class members and myself had an unparalleled educational experience through their combined knowledge. The course material covered German history that took place at the exact sites we visited and toured. Such relevance brought the substance of the course lectures to life and allowed for a dynamic scholastic journey.
Academics aside, the experience of living in Berlin for a month with 12 other Geneseo students was the experience of a lifetime. We formed indescribable bonds with one another. We all lived in a hostel together, enjoying not only class time and group excursions, but also free time. We explored the city, discovered superb hole-in-the-wall eateries and engaged in typical tourist activities in which we could not resist participating.
Although the workload was intense—it was a semester’s worth of information packed into one month while trying to explore Germany and the surrounding areas—we managed to fulfill class requirements each night upon returning to the hostel. We worked together as a group to help one another buckle-down and succeed. On the occasional night when there was a lull in assignments, we relished the Berlin nightlife, going to local bars and clubs where we would meet people from all over the world.
During the trip, we had one weekend off during which we didn’t have mandatory class time or daytrips. Some of the other course members and I decided to take advantage of this opportunity by booking a trip to Prague. The bus ride there alone helped strengthen our friendships even further, which only continued when we arrived in the Czech Republic. It was amazing to be completely on our own without the guidance of our professors as we discovered the beauty of the city.
I had always considered studying abroad one day because of all the recommendations my family and friends had made and stories they told, but I had never seriously thought about where I would travel to or when. This trip to Germany fell in my lap—I made a spur of the moment decision in the spring to apply late for any HUMN II trip that still had openings. Despite my tardy application, study abroad advisor Emily Froome was supportive and accommodating. She informed me of two programs still available and I immediately applied for the Berlin one. Froome directed me through the process and was more than obliging, answering my myriad of questions.
My last-minute decision to pursue a study abroad program proved immeasurably worthwhile. The rich history I learned about, the friendships I formed and the independence I gained on the HUMN II: Berlin trip are priceless and will stay with me forever.