Kaitlyn Hill is a Junior at Transylvania University. She is a German and Sociology/Anthropology Double Major.
Where did you go? When? What did you study?
I went to Munich, Germany in the summer of 2014. I studied German Stylistics and German Lyric Poetry to earn credits toward my German major.
How did you select your education abroad program?
After talking with my study abroad advisor, I determined that I wanted to go on a summer program because of the time frame that would lower my stress about missing out on certain classes I needed for my double major or on different campus activities I’m involved in. She helped me find the KIIS Munich program, which was cheaper than any other program I’d seen and allowed me to do the two most important things on my study abroad checklist – study German language and live with a host family. It really was the perfect fit.
How does your education abroad experience impact your studies at your home university?
As a German major, there is really no class at home that can top the linguistic and cultural immersion provided by studying in Germany. I felt like I was really living the experiences that I had been learning about in a classroom for so long and understanding this country better than I ever had before. My other major is sociology/anthropology, which also deals with understanding societies and cultures. It has been really enjoyable to apply my new, inside knowledge of German culture and customs to my soc/anth classes at home.
What skills did you cultivate abroad that can be applied to your career goals and ambitions?
A major thing that I learned while abroad is that I don’t plan on living in America my whole life. There is just so much of the world to see and experience and I can’t imagine not spending at least a few years in a foreign place and trying to truly live like a local. I look forward to applying sociology/anthropology knowledge and my experience in Germany to hopefully live and work in Europe someday. I also discovered more confidence and open-mindedness while abroad that has already led me to pursue things I may not have before, such as an internship back in Germany this summer. I think studying abroad forces you – literally – out of your comfort zone and puts you in some of the most spontaneous and/or awkward situations, and it all makes you so much more adaptable and courageous in the end. These all seem like skills that are so necessary for young people to have right now in a tough job market.
What resonates most with you from your experience?
I’ve heard people talk before about being “bitten by the travel bug” and I can definitely say that is more true than ever after studying abroad. I had been out of the country before, but this was the first time since coming to college and learning all that I had learned in the first half of my college years. Having this new education and perspective on the world and all its people made my study abroad experience so powerful and (though it sounds cheesy) life-changing. I really have this desire – or even need – more than ever before to travel wherever and whenever I can. Near, far, short trip or long, on my tiny college student budget, I am constantly thinking ahead to when will be the next time I can break out my passport. Even more than that, living with a host family abroad taught me that I want to know people. Everyone is so interesting and has their own story to tell, and I want to experience their ordinary lives as they live them, to whatever extent I can. This is something that I think will be a lifelong goal of mine as I travel wherever I may.
What is the best piece of advice you can offer to a student preparing to study abroad?
Soak it all up! Be fully present in the place that you are and with the people around you and just take everything in. Truly try to immerse yourself in the culture and in the moment. Don’t worry about frequent social media updates; you will be back in America before you know it and can tell everyone about it then.
Photos and responses by Kaitlyn Hill, recorded by Courtney Smith
Courtney is an Education Abroad Peer Ambassador studying Psychology. She is a Junior at Transylvania University, and she participated in a Semester at Sea Program.