Mein Jahr in Mannheim war mehr als ein Studium, es war eine Lebenserfahrung.
Rebeccah Dawson (Carrboro)
My study abroad experience has been educational both academically and socially. What I have valued most is the people that I have met during my stay. While the majority of my study abroad was spent exploring Mannheim, I was able to spend a great deal of my time exploring Eastern and Western Europe. Thus far, I have traveled within Germany, The Netherlands, Hungary, Ireland, and Czech Republic. I have seen some of the most beautiful cities in the world, and am so grateful to the Ekkehard Foundation for making that opportunity possible. Merely a few months before I left the United States, I had notified my home university that I would not be able to study abroad as I had planned. I found that it would be impossible to afford any of the housing within the university or any outside accommodation. Fortunately, my study abroad advisor was able to contact the Ekkehard Foundation and arrange my stay with the organization. As a result, I have had one of the greatest experiences of my entire life.
The University of Mannheim has been one of my most reliable aids during my stay in Germany. I arrived in this country completely clueless as to how to build a life in Mannheim for the next four months. My greatest worry was that I would feel like an outsider during the time of my travel. However, I was relieved to find that the University, as well as the German people, provided me a tremendous amount of comfort that allowed me to establish a home for the past four months. The Welcome Centre was ready to answer any and all questions I had throughout my stay. I was able to obtain a phone, find an affordable grocery store, and do my laundry with ease. All the small comforts of home that can be easily overlooked were accounted for and taken care of by the considerate people of Mannheim. There was no question that I had that went unanswered.
What I will miss most about my journey to Germany will undoubtedly be the incredible friendships that I have made. The exchange program has allowed me to meet people from Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, France, Africa, as well as more people from my home country. There were countless events, parties, and trips planned by the student programs at Mannheim that made my transition here nearly seamless. I was told by my home university to be prepared for home sickness during my study abroad. However, I am grateful that the kindness and thoughtfulness of my friends here have made my home sickness very slight. For instance, I had my 21st birthday last week, and was happily surprised with a surprise birthday party organized by all my closest friends here. That, and many other nights, will one to remember.
I feel confident in saying that I will return to Europe in the near future. I have nothing but gratefulness towards the German people, and I can only hope that other exchange students feel the same. I arrived in this country without any experience in the German language, and leave feeling that I can comfortably function within this culture. I experienced Oktoberfest, Wurstmarkt in Bad Dürkheim, the Berlin Wall memorial, several scenic routes in nearby towns, visits with my family in Westheim, the Christmas Markets, and countless other experiences. I am confident that I will carry this experience with me for the rest of my life.