Our Peer Mentors are updating the blog with their student’s answers to a few of the on-trip reflection questions! Click on the trip’s tab that you are interested in and read through student thoughts.
WOW! None of us can believe we only have two full days left in Berlin. This week has flown by! We began with an on flight preparation question asking students if they were nervous for anything and also what they were particularly excited to do in Berlin. If any of them were nervous about the language barrier they are not anymore! We have picked up on the essential German vocabulary… our favorite word: fünf (five). Needless to say, all the Germans are probably wondering why we keep having conversations only using the word for five! Once we arrived in the city we immediately threw ourselves into German culture by crossing from East Berlin into West Berlin under the Brandenburg gate and then perusing the Mauerpark Flea Market. (Hint: if you asked for a souvenir this might be where it came from!) The hostel we are staying in for the week, Bax Pax, is an authentic German style hostel complete with electronic music playing in the lobby 24/7. Nothing to get your day started better than European coffee and a nice beat. The Deutsches Museum consumed our entire Monday morning. We couldn’t get enough Berlin history. There was even a section complete with photographs and documents about the German euthanasia program, which was a major topic in the class leading up to the trip. That afternoon we took on the persona of real Humboldt- Universitat (http://www.hu-berlin.de/?set_language=en) student dining in Messa Nord (the cafeteria) and then attending a lecture with professor Lutz Stiener. His lecture touched on cultural differences between Germans and Americans as well as a general overview of culture shock and cultural awareness for future study abroad and travel. It was so beneficial having the opportunity to listen to Dr. Stiener speak so early in the week because everything he taught us we have been using this week! Monday night for dinner our group split into their project groups to strategize and plan their tweets. Part of their free time to explore Berlin requires them to take photographs of certain monuments and objects and then tweet them at our main twitter @CofCfyeabroad using the hashtag #berlin2014. This not only gives a focus on what sorts of things to go and see, but also enables each group to see what each other are doing. The tweets are due by the end of Friday so check in then to see what the students have been up to! We could go on and on about all the things we have done so far, like visit Sachsenhausen prison camp, take a tour of the Berlin Underground, and walk the East Side Gallery (the longest free standing piece of the Berlin Wall left in the city!). As this post comes to a close, (because who wants to be on the internet when you can be exploring the city?) we will leave you with a few pictures!
The UK class is the first group to start their travels! The peer mentor’s will be leading the group to the Charleston airport to meet up with the faculty advisors. (Their first test of the trip!) From there they have a connecting flight out of Newark Int’l to Manchester UK. The time change is 5 hours between the East coast and the UK, so they will take off at 7:25pm and not arrive until 7:30am. Luckily for this group, once arriving they have a comfortable 2 hour train ride to Nottingham. Naps will be in order. The first night of the trip is a crowd pleaser: an afternoon football match at City Ground! Community Director Graham Moran will lead a discussion about his club’s community involvement and then it will be time for kick off. (check out this link to learn more about Nottingham Forest. http://www.nottinghamforest.co.uk/) The last two years CofC students have gone on this trip their picture has been featured in that match’s program. Fingers crossed for 2014. Come on you reds! We’re all looking forward to hearing the student’s reactions to the fans and atmosphere at this stadium. This is a very old and historic club, established in 1865, with loyal and dedicated fans. The Forest players wear red uniforms and so one of the chants the crow yells is “Come on you reds!” I think our UK group will be able to catch onto that one, but maybe not some of the more complicated songs the fans will all sing in unison. After the game dinner will be held back at the hotel with a special guest. You’ll have to check back in to hear student reactions to this once in a life time experience. Not to ruin the surprise.. but here is a picture from last year’s dinner. This first day in the UK is sure to get the trip off to a great start!
This week marks our student’s last week of classes! Our instructors and peer mentors have been sharing their travel wisdom with the freshmen students.
Belrin: Dr. Korey, who thinks of himself as a “Berliner”, has led students on both spring break trips as well as month long summer programs to the city. The first shock of the trip is telling the class we have somewhat of a reverse curfew. On Sunday, the day we arrive, no one is allowed to go to sleep before 6pm! We’re hoping this will help our jet lagg since we have a full week of activities awaiting us. One of the highlights of the trip that everyone is excited about is meeting with a German professor, Dr. Lutz Steiner, who will lead us in an intercultural learning seminar at Humboldt Universitat. We also had a crash course on how to navigate the metro system which they call the U-Bahn and S-Bahn. Our students will receive a week long pass which will allow them to explore the city. This will be helpful since this year we are experimenting with the Twitter “scavenger hunt!” We have three groups and a list of fun “German” places and things to go and find. The groups have to take a picture and then come up with a witty 140 characters to describe the experience. Make sure to follow the @CofCfyeabroad twitter page to stay updated with the hunt.
United Kingdom: The UK group has their last class this Wednesday! Over the weekend they held their Charleston Battery soccer fundraiser. The Charleston Battery is the semi-professional soccer team that play in the United Soccer League at Blackbaud Stadium on Daniel Island. At halftime there is a frisbee throwing competition that fans are able to participate in. The frisbees are $1 to purchase and our UK class sold them during their match against the Seattle Sounders. This money will help the students not have to pay out of pocket for scarves at the football matches they attend! This class is in for a great experience.
We’re back! This year’s peer mentors are very excited to have the opportunity to lead trips to the UK and Berlin. We wanted to provide a biography of each mentor and explain their role in making these trips a success.
Sydney Grove UK Peer Mentor:
My name is Sydney Grove, and I’m a junior at The College majoring in Historic Preservation and Community Planning, along with a minor in Psychology. I’m originally from Central, South Carolina (right next to Clemson).My on campus involvement includes serving as a campus tour guide for Charleston 40, an Orientation Intern for incoming freshmen, a Peer Facilitator for the fall semesters, as well as a Peer Mentor for Summer Preview. This is my first trip abroad and I couldn’t be more excited! I am thrilled to be more informed about England’s football culture, and I believe that this is the perfect way to experience a fast and quick trip abroad – among your peers and older peer mentors, as well. I know I would have been lost without my peer mentors my freshman year! See y’all across the pond.
David Flynn UK Peer Mentor:
Hey, my name is David and I am a junior from Spartanburg, SC. I have traveled to the Bahamas and to England. This will be my third time traveling to England but my first time as a peer mentor. The past three years I have spent in England have provided me with a new outlook on traveling and has made me want to travel more. The UK Soccer Experience is a trip that was tailor made for me. It combines my love of soccer and history into one experience. Something that I am looking forward too is getting to see England national team play at Wembley Stadium. This will be an amazing opportunity to see some of the best players in England playing on one team. To me, the most important aspect of being peer leader abroad to respectful of the students and to make the trip as enjoyable for them as possible. If the students can have fun then the trip will be enjoyable for everyone.
Maylin Hill Berlin Peer Mentor:
Hi! My name is Maylin and I am a senior from Greenville, SC, majoring in Chemistry and Spanish. I have been to 8 different countries, and every country has given me a new and different experience and perspective of the world. My biggest regret in college is not participating in a semester-long study abroad program. I have been a peer leader for three years, and this will be my second time on the Berlin trip as a peer leader. I can’t wait to see the Berlin Wall again. I love the art and poetry covering the wall, turning something ugly, cold, and dividing, into a beautiful and bold cultural connection. The most important aspect of peer leading is to be open and honest. We all have faults and struggles, and others can learn from your mistakes if you’re honest about how you have failed and what you did to fix your mistakes.
Jason Boyles Berlin Peer Mentor:
Hey my name is Jason and I am a Senior Biology major from Charlotte, NC. This will be my second trip Berlin as a peer leader/mentor. Along with FYE I work with Maylin as a leader of the Summer Preview program. I am very thankful that this trip allows me to go abroad and experience a different culture without the commitment of an entire semester. Last year was my first time traveling to Europe and I loved every minute of it. I am very excited to experience Berlin again and further explore the city.The most important part of being a peer mentor is persevering through adversity. I incredibly thankful and blessed to be a leader again to Germany. Auf Wiedersehen!
Samantha Piergross Berlin Peer Mentor:
Hi y’all! My name is Sam Piergross and I am a junior studying English and History with a minor in Communication. My hometown is Ocean City, NJ but I’ve quickly picked up on the “y’all” phenomenon of the south. My leadership roles on campus include membership coordinator of Charleston 40 tour guides, summer preview peer mentor for 2 years, formal recruitment chair of Alpha Delta Pi, as well as a first year experience abroad peer mentor for 2 years. As a freshman, I participated in the pilot UK FYE Abroad and participated in the trip last year as a peer mentor. I am fortunate enough to be able to join the Berlin group for the 2014 trip. Aside from these trips, I have been to Europe a few times visiting Italy, Spain, France, and England. I can’t wait to add Germany to the list. Auf Wiedersehen!
During the trip, student participants answered 3 questions that were developed by each trip’s respective peer mentors. By having the students answer these questions while abroad, we were able to obtain the most honest and detailed responses. Getting the student’s perspectives about the various experiences of the trip help the students to slow down and appreciate/evaluate what they have just taken part in.