Brittany Earle - 2015 Program Participant

What inspired you to go abroad?

I learned German in high school and that made me want to see the country. I also have a German background from my Dad’s family.

Why did you choose USAC?

I chose a summer session through USAC because I didn't want to be away for a full semester and USAC offered shorter times that were affordable for me. The smaller city of Lueneburg was also attractive for me.

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Munich Cathedral, Germany
In Munich

What was your favorite part about Germany?

My favorite part about Germany was the trains. My city's public transportation isn't the best, so I really enjoyed the trains and train stations. Lueneburg, my host city, was great because it was big enough to find things to do, but also felt like a smaller town at the same time.

What made your experience abroad unique?

I'd say the unique thing about my experience abroad was my host family and making the trip work with the little money I had available. My host family owned horses, and I love horses! It was great to be around animals a few times. They also were pretty busy. I'm not a super social person so it actually worked out well. I was surprised when I had enough money to cover the expenses for the program and my food. I budgeted well enough to spend my last few Euros on my last day.

How did local staff support you throughout your program?

The USAC staff was always helpful. They encouraged and gave us easy ways to meet Germans, and also gave us some culture lessons. They were also helpful for me when I had to drop a class.

What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?

If I could do something differently I would plan way ahead and save as well as apply to scholarships. Although I did enjoy a few outings, I was on a tight budget.

What surprised you most about Germany?

Even though I had heard about the transportation in Germany, I was really impressed with the punctuality of the trains and buses. The biggest surprise though was the humidity and the rain; I really had no idea about the weather there.

Girl swimming in the Alpsee in Germany
Swimming in the Alpsee near Fussen

Describe a typical day in the life of your program.

During the week I would eat breakfast and do homework, and then walk to campus to eat lunch with friends in the cafeteria. After that, I had an evening class so I would do other homework or walk around town to pass time.

What did you enjoy doing in your free time?

In my free time I would wander the city or find a park. I even found a forested area near the river for walking.

What did you like best about your accommodation?

I had a host family that had two teenage daughters. They were all very nice and even had a separate living area that I could have used for any of my family that visited.

How difficult was it to communicate with locals?

Communicating with locals in my town, and even other towns I visited, was super easy. Whenever my friends and I needed directions or something else we could just ask someone and we would get help. What I actually had to do when first getting to the train station was ask for help to get to my town. Everyone I had to talk to was friendly.

What was the hardest part about studying abroad?

The hardest part about studying abroad for me was of course being away from family, and also my dog!

What is one thing you wish you would have known before studying abroad in Germany?

I wish I would have done more research on how money transactions are handled in Germany. It's pretty common to use cash and the typical debit and credit cards had chips in them. I always used my card back home so I tried it a few times while in Germany and had issues with it (just because it didn't have a chip).

Tourist in Germany
Exploring a town

Do you have any packing tips for individuals headed to Germany?

For those headed to Germany I would recommend bringing an umbrella and rain coat (or buy them there). Also, packing light will be helpful when you return home and try to fit all of your new stuff in your bag.

What is your best piece of advice for students preparing to study abroad?

Know that it is important to have an open mind about everything, including food, people, shopping, etc.

What do you feel the biggest benefit of studying abroad is?

The biggest benefit of my study abroad was having to step out of my comfort zone. I didn't have my family or a tour group to lean on for help; I was on my own a lot of the time. That just helped me be more confident in communicating with a language barrier and in unfamiliar places.

Now that you're home, how has your time abroad impacted your life?

I am always excited to encourage others to go abroad and I can see how it impacts others and how it could potentially impact those who have never been.

Would you recommend USAC to others? Why?

I would definitely recommend USAC. They have plenty of host countries and are affordable. They even offer payment plans. It was also great to have a host family for such a short amount of time.

If you could study abroad again, where would you go?

If I were to study abroad again I would like to go to Costa Rica for the weather, landscape, and culture.