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Student Profiles

Matthew at the Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany

Overseas Study Program

Freiburg,  Germany

I would encourage students to go abroad for as long as they are able to. I'm happy I decided to go for a year instead of just the semester. It was a challenge, but it was definitely the most enjoyable and influential year of my collegiate career!”

Matthew Hurley

Major: German Education

Term abroad: Academic year 2014-2015

Why did you choose this program? I chose this program because it provided the opportunity to directly enroll in a German university. I was able to take both language classes, as well as classes in other content areas, such as education and European politics and history.

Describe your favorite classes abroad. I think my favorite classes were my language-intensive classes. The teachers were all very engaging, and I could feel myself becoming more confident in my German abilities with every class period. My success within the classroom encouraged me to be more confident out socializing with my German peers.

What was the housing like on your study abroad program? I lived in an apartment provided by the program. I was housed with 3 other students, two of which were native Germans. The other guy was from China, but had been studying at the university for a few years. The common/main language of the apartment was German, so it was a great way for me to really immerse myself within the culture and language.

What advice would you like to give to future study abroad students? I would encourage students to go abroad for as long as they are able to. I'm happy I decided to go for a year instead of just the semester. It was a challenge, but it was definitely the most enjoyable and influential year of my collegiate career!

What’s your best memory from your time abroad? My best memory is definitely the time I spent making German friends within my housing complex and in classes. These people then invited me into their home to celebrate holidays, meet their family, and some of them are planning to come visit the US! These are friendships that helped me during my time abroad, and friendships that provided memories to last a lifetime!

Describe your experience with culture shock or reverse culture shock. I felt like I had prepared well for the initial culture shock, but the reverse culture shock caught me off guard. I wasn't expecting my year abroad to really make me think of Freiburg as a second home, but I definitely feel homesickness for the black forest every once in awhile. My first few weeks back were a little difficult, since I was missing all of the friends and experiences I had made/had while abroad.

“If I could do it over, I would…” .. get more involved with the community in the city. Toward the end of my experience I engaged with a German-American club, which sponsored a city-wide party. This was so much fun, and I wish I had utilized the opportunities to do these things earlier in my experience.

What was your greatest challenge? The greatest challenge for me was approaching a professor after class/during office hours. I was nervous, as an international student, that they would judge me for my language ability. All of my professors, however, were so encouraging. They were happy to have me within the classroom and wanted to provide me with every opportunity to be successful.

What fact about your host country do you think people would be surprised to learn? Germany is more than just Bratwurst and Pretzels! The culture of the county stems back a thousand years, and the people could not be nicer! Stereotypes normally stem from some sort of truth, but "German directness/stern-ness" really comes from a helpful nature of the people.

How did you find scholarships for study abroad? I received departmental funding, funding from the office of overseas study, and was able to take my aid from IU abroad with me. All of these were made apparent to me during my application process.

Would you recommend other students pursue any specific scholarship opportunities? I encourage students to apply for every single scholarship opportunity they think they might be eligible for, even if they're not sure! There are so many scholarships available!