My time studying in Duisburg… BEST Program 2017

“Over the course of the five weeks, my friends grew extremely close and felt like a family. We became a family throughout our stay and grew to love our hosts and their cities and all hope to have a reunion someday. I recommend the experience to everyone!”

 

Study abroad report

My time studying in Duisburg were some of the most well-spent five weeks of my educational career. The faculty at the Mercator School of Management were unbelievably friendly and helpful throughout the full experience and I am so grateful that I was able to meet so many amazing people through this program.

I was a little nervous about traveling to Europe alone (I had never even flown before) and navigating a foreign country where I spoke none of the local language, but the BEST staff did more than enough to make the experience pleasant and manageable. My “buddies” picked me up at the airport and helped check me into the hotel and showed me around the city of Duisburg.  For the first few days, all the “buddies” and BEST staff are available to help navigate the city and find the best places for university students to hangout and have a good time.

On our first weekend, we toured a lot of historical sites around the state of NRW, including a castle, an old cathedral, and the beautiful Landschaftspark. We visited the capital of North Rhine-Westphalia, Dusseldorf, and learned about Germany’s political and economic system, which was really informative and interesting. We had drinks in a very tall television tower, from which we could see the whole city. It was a great tourist experience.

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After classes, my friends and I would take the train to neighboring cities, trying to take in as much of the local culture as we could. One Wednesday evening, we took a train to Wuppertal and found ourselves cheering on their Bundesliga Handball time, the Blue Lions, and had a great time being a part of German sports. After the game, we took the train to Cologne to see the breathtaking cathedral in the moonlight. We drank wine that cost two euro from the train station on the stair of a world famous cathedral at midnight. It was a great time.

The next weekend, two friends and I took a bus cross-country to Munich. The city of Munich (Munchen), and the state of Bavaria in general, was vastly different from Duisburg. We had a great time touring he city for a weekend and learning about their history. The following weekend, all of the BEST students traveled to Berlin where we had a well-organized itinerary. Each day was packed full of tours of historical landmarks, cultural centers, and awesome memories. It was actually hard for the students to keep up with our wonderful program director, Nicole. It was an unforgettable experience.

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On our last weekend there, a friend and I took a flight to Madrid to practice our Spanish with some local and learn about their capital. It was a beautiful city as well and only an hour and a half flight from Dusseldorf. We enjoyed our weekend in the heat but were excited to get back to Germany.

The classes and actual academic portion of the trip was really interesting as well. German courses are organized differently than in the United States, as one exam determines the final grade. The classes had a lot of information, and although we were in class 6 hours a day, we were all able to absorb a ton of information about European economics, the EU, and the German Language. The professors were very friendly and wanted us to have the best experience possible during our stay. We also learned that Germans do not really have air conditioning and that spending a day in hot classrooms is difficult sometimes.

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Over the course of the five weeks, my friends – who were from all over the USA and never met one another before the study abroad experience began – grew extremely close and felt like a family. We became great friends with local German students, having barbecues at their apartments, attending their late-night campus parties on a Tuesday night, learning German drinking games, and playing volleyball at a beautiful lake just outside of the city. The only part of the experience I hated was saying goodbye to everyone before flying home to the United States. We became a family throughout our stay and grew to love our hosts and their cities and all hope to have a reunion someday. I recommend the experience to everyone!

 

This is written by Anthony Maticic.

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