Stanford in Berlin, Winter 2015-16 Major: Human Biology College year while abroad: Junior
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS WITH GABRIEL
Why did you choose to study abroad in Berlin?
I applied Second Round on a whim initially because I needed a change of pace and saw the opportunity to stay abroad longer (due to Krupp). I ultimately decided to go forward with Berlin because wanted to connect to my family history (my father is German), experience a new place and culture, and meet new people.
What were your expectations before you went and how did those change once you arrived in Berlin?
I had expectations to make new friends and explore a new place, both of which were met to the fullest. I expected to have more trouble getting around by myself in a city with limited language skills, but did much better than I anticipated. Once I was willing to make a fool of myself and not afraid of plans going awry, I was able to learn as I went, and really get a lot more out of my experience.
What were some of the academic benefits from studying abroad in Berlin?
I learned about the impact of WWII and the development of the EU in ways that have shaped my world view and politics and in ways that could not be replicated outside of Berlin. I also, for the first time in my Stanford career, had the opportunity to get to know my teachers on a personal level and build a community with them.
What did you learn about yourself while you were studying abroad?
That I am capable of a lot more than I expected. That I am resourceful and a fast learner. That learning goes beyond a text book and I can learn a lot on my own.
What was the most challenging experience you encountered while you were abroad and what did you learn from it?
I was most challenge by my Krupp internship in the spring. The language barrier made for difficult and awkward situations, but I was able to accommodate and set myself up for success. I ended up with an amazing experience.
What was the biggest cultural adjustment you had to make?
In my experience, Germans are not as open to new people. Something my friends in Berlin (both Americans and Germans) have said that in general, Americans tend to have a lot of friends who they don’t know very well , whereas Germans tend to have fewer friends but these friendships mean more. This new sense of relationships can be difficult when you’re trying to make new friends, but I adjusted my understanding of how friendship works.
What was your favorite part of your everyday life in X?
I loved having the option to take advantage of so many things in the city on a whim – museums, shows, random walks, friends, etc.
What was the most memorable experience you had while you were in X?
Too many to count. Perhaps one of the field trips I had with politics of memory course or getting a cab in Athens to the beach with friends on a whim and jumping into the sea.
What 5 words would you use to describe your experience?
Alive, Unpredictable, Friends, Independence, City
What was your favorite food you had in Berlin?
Low key berlin had amazing pizza
What was the most valuable item you took with you on the program?
What was your favorite music/band that you discovered in Berlin?
A terrible 80s band that I forget the name of.
Every Stanford undergraduate should give serious consideration to studying overseas.
Regardless of the academic path you choose, you will be enriched by time spent in another country. Achieving cultural literacy and gaining substantive understanding of other perspectives in the world will deepen your awareness of yourself, your educational goals, and your own society. Nearly one-half of each graduating class studies abroad through one of Stanford's overseas programs.