My name is Danielle Parker and I am an education major studying at the University of Mannheim in Mannheim, Germany. At the University of Mannheim, I am currently taking psychology classes because they do not offer education classes and I really wanted to go to this school. Mannheim is in the south of Germany, just south of Frankfurt. This city is known to be an international city because of the University and how many international students go there, so finding people that speak English was not hard at all. The hardest thing is to find people to speak German so I can practice instead of trying to make it easier on me and speaking to me in my native language. There have been so many situations where I have tried to speak in German but I pronounce a few things wrong so other respond to me in English. It is such a nice gesture but it has made it a little harder to practice my German skills.
My favorite garden so far in Germany. Schwetzingen Schlossgarten
|Hans begging me to get him off this ledge!|
When I first arrived in Mannheim, it was not love at first sight. Previous international students advised me not to have any expectations because most likely, we will end up disappointed. I, unfortunately, failed to take their advice. I had extremely high expectations about Mannheim and Germany in general. This is my first time out of the U.S so I was expecting nothing less that phenomenal. So, when I arrived I was a little disappointed. I was dealing with the cultural shock, getting lost multiple times, and the disappointment of not living on cloud 9 like I expected. I am not ashamed to say this, but I broke down a couple times my first week. By my second week, I was in love. I began meeting friends and I started seeing Mannheim as the interesting city that it is. I have been here since January and I feel like this is home. The city center of Mannheim is called the quadrat. All of the addresses inside of the quadrat go in alphabetical and numerical order, which makes it easier to navigate through the city. For example, the international office is located at L 1,1 and my bank is located at M1,1; so, when looking for the bank, I know I just need to walk down one block because M comes after L. I find this system especially interesting and helpful because it made it easier for me to find my way around faster.
|My closest international friends that I’ve made here so far|
I was kind of late to the idea of traveling within Europe so many of my friends had a head start in that area. I arrived in January and I did not start travelling until March. However, when I did start travelling I mainly stayed within Germany and saw as much of it as possible. I chose to study in Germany because I wanted to see Germany, and that is exactly what I did.
|Please notice the lovely bird at the top of the statue. Amsterdam, Netherlands|
A lot of my friends would also go out and party a lot and that was not my typical form of entertainment. So on multiple occasions, I decided to stay in. I preferred to stay in my apartment or hanging with my new close friends that I made from China and Taiwan. I remember I had a friend tell me that I was wasting my international experience by not travelling and going out as much as others were. That comment really stuck with me because I was so excited about studying abroad and to hear that I am wasting my experience really took a toll on me. However, I quickly got over that and remembered that the entire point of studying abroad is that you are studying in another country. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO GO OUT EVERY WEEKEND AND TRAVEL EVERYWHERE TO ENJOY YOUR EXPERIENCE! That is the number one advice that I want to pass on to future study abroad students. Do not let someone else put their goals on you. Set your own goals for your study abroad experience and stick to them. You do not have the same personality and values as everyone else so it is expected for you to have different goals than them. Do what makes you happy during your experience, not someone else.
|Anne Frank House|
I also suggest that whatever you choose to do, take tons of pictures. Whether you travel all over the world, or occasionally have a drink with your international friends, you are going to want to remember this experience. Take pictures! It may seem weird at first and totally touristy, but who cares?
|Miniature Wunderland Hamburg, Germany|
When you look back, you are going to be thankful that you did it. Lastly, make friends and form bonds. I have met so many people that just have the most amazing personalities. I have learned about other cultures from them and have grown to appreciate our differences even more. My international friends have really opened my eyes to how amazing and cool other cultures are. I have also learned how to say I love you in four different languages and I will carry that knowledge with me for the rest of my life.
|Bad Herrenalb, Germany|
Before my experience, I was just interested in Germany and its culture; now, I love Germany! I love the language, their transportation system, the nature, the fast pace speed of the Hauptbahnhof (central train station), and everything else. Living here has made me more independent and culturally aware of everything around me. It’s been such an amazing opportunity to study here and I wish I could just stay forever!
|University of Mannheim|
University of Mannheim