Hello there, my name is Bioreoluwasheto Sarah Odimayo and I am an International Studies major from Texas who is currently studying the German language and political science in the beautiful city of Lüneburg, Germany. I have been in Lüneburg for a little over a week, so my initial thoughts and feelings about my program are still very fresh in my mind.
I was not very anxious about leaving the United States. This is simply because I had spent an enormous amount of time the past school year organizing and preparing myself for my summer semester in Germany. I was actually extremely excited because I saw my trip as the culmination of a year’s work; the culmination of juggling a job and school work to pay initial deposits, of obsessing over scholarship/grant applications and of conditioning myself to get into the mindset of being open to a new educational experience.
So, when it was time for me to leave and when I arrived, I felt ready to take on Germany and to have the best study experience possible. And then I stepped out of the airport terminal and realized that everything (as it should be) was almost entirely in German.
The one thing I had failed to register in my mind was the fact that I, as an intermediate German speaker, would find it extremely difficult to speak to anyone who is above the age of 8 years old. Fortunately, this initial fear slowly but surely subsided as I found my group in the airport and realized that I am in the best place and best situation possible for learning the language. Then I studied my surroundings and came to the conclusion that, besides the obvious language and maybe some ideological differences, everyday life in Germany will not be immensely different from life in the United States because the U.S and Germany are both western and modern nations. Luckily, this initial perception was mostly right.
Although it looks nothing like the big cities in Texas that I alternate between, I felt extremely “at home” as we all arrived in Lüneburg from Hamburg. This town is extremely beautiful, quirky and quaint. I had not prepared myself for the fact that I would be in awe of the medieval structures and story-book cottages that regular, non-fantasy people actually live in. I had always been sort of skeptical when people talk about “love at first sight” but now I know that it’s possible.
A week has passed and I am still very much in love with Lüneburg and with my life here. From about the second day, my fellow classmates and I have expressed the fact that we feel like we have been in Lüneburg for a very long time. This city embraced us and has made it easy for us to fully immerse ourselves into learning more about the language and German way of life. And because I feel at home here, I know that I can focus on the goals that I set for myself when I was preparing for this experience.
The obvious reason for me being here is to improve on my German language skills and earn some political science credits on the side. But I am also here to test myself. I truly believe that complacency and monotony in one’s life is extremely detrimental because it leads to apathy. And as someone who is pursuing a career in international relations and conflict resolution, apathy is not an option. My goal is to use my study abroad experience to train myself to be open-minded about differing ideological perspectives, ways of life and points-of-view. I am going to do this by simply being open to talking to anyone on any subject.
I have a feeling that even the shortest conversation with someone I would have otherwise overlooked or not been exposed to has the potential to lead to a deeper understanding of the human experience. This is what excites me the most about my study abroad program here in Germany.