As I boarded the plane I questioned my sanity. What had I gotten myself into? I was about to take a ten-hour flight across the Atlantic, land in a country whose language I had studied, but in which I'd never been fully immersed, and then spend six weeks living with a strange family. I wasn't sure that I really wanted to experience Germany in such a way. I struggled with doubts and fears, yet I was practically unable to control my excitement.
Looking back on my anxiety I can only laugh. My summer study at the Academie für International Bildung in Bonn, Germany is one of the most memorable times in my life. There is no better way to learn the language than to be completely surrounded by it. Not only did I get to see some of the most amazing sights, become more proficient in the language, and encounter an entirely different culture, but I also made wonderful, new friends. Though busy with class in the morning (even that proved to be fun!), there was still plenty of time for traveling, sightseeing or even just relaxing at the local swimming pool. The castles, the operas, the people, the history, and the food: there is nothing else like it! I learned more in those six weeks, both about Germany and myself, than I had ever learned in a classroom.
My hope is that everyone will take the opportunity to study abroad, whether for a full semester or just a summer term. I have benefited so much from the experience in every way! There was no need for doubts or fears; I survived and loved absolutely every minute of it!
Samantha Swanson, '02