Otto-Friedrich University in Bamberg by Mikaela Franco

Hallo! My name is Mikaela Franco and I am in my fourth year at College of Charleston. I am working towards an AB degree in German with an English minor, so as you can tell I love learning languages. Of all the foreign languages I’ve studied, German is my favorite. That’s why I decided to study abroad at the Otto-Friedrich University in Bamberg, Germany this summer!

I didn’t really choose the exchange program in Bamberg on my own—I just decided one day that I wanted to study abroad in Germany and I made an appointment to talk to my advisor about it. As soon as I walked into her office, she said, “We’re sending you to Bamberg, where there are fewer Americans. That way, you will use your German more and you won’t be able to get by with a lot of English!” My number one goal for my time spent abroad is improving my spoken German, so I agreed at once. I started learning the language before I was even in high school, but being homeschooled I never got a chance to practice speaking. So although my reading and writing skills are above average, my speaking skills are definitely in need of improvement. And according to most people, immersion is the best way to do this.

The other goals I have for my time in Germany are ones that most students who go abroad probably share—learning about the culture and making new friends. I am thankful for some of the contacts I’ve already made in Bamberg and hope that these will turn into lasting friendships. As far as learning about the culture, I hope to have opportunities to attend local festivals and events in the city as well as the surrounding region. I have already decided to go to Oberammergau while I’m there to see one of the famous Passion plays that have been performed there since the Black Death—that will probably be the subject of one of my later blog posts.

I have never been to Germany before, but I’ve talked to a lot of people who have already been or who are actually native Germans. There are certainly a number of cultural differences that I’ve been told about. For example, the shops over there keep much shorter hours than they do in the States, and most of them are not open on Sunday. Another difference is that when you are corresponding with German people, they don’t always reply to your emails as quickly as Americans do! Often a week or two goes by between messages. This can be frustrating if you are trying to ask them for information you really need, but on the other hand, I have found it a lot less stressful because you aren’t expected to respond right away and you have a little time to think about what you’d like to say. I am certain there are more differences that I will learn about and adjust to once I’m there, which will be very soon!

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