German students come to Kent State for aviation

Nicole Aikens

Two students are calling Kent State home for the spring semester, but it is very different from the 1,200-student school they are used to.

Sebastian Blumenthal and Kathleen Hermsdoerfer, German exchange students from the European Business School near Frankfurt, Germany, are studying aviation management in the aeronautics program of the College of Technology.

“At first I was like, ‘Kent, Ohio? Where is that?’ But I really like it,” Blumenthal said.

Kent State started the program in January 2009 to provide aeronautics students with international experience. Kent State student Jesse Long has been attending the European Business School since last semester and was the first Kent State student to participate in the program.

“The best thing it does for students is providing students with a global perspective on airline management,” said Isaac Nettey, associate dean of the College of Technology.

The students going to Germany work closely with Lufthansa German Airline and the students who come to Kent State work with Continental Airlines in Cleveland.

The students are also receiving a global perspective on university life.

“A lot of the American kids can’t actually imagine what life is like beyond American borders,” Blumenthal said.

Hermsdoerfer said people seem to think Germany is disconnected from the common things in the United States.

“We were asked, ‘Do you have mobile phones in Germany?’ And it was a serious question,” Hermsdoerfer said. “Sebastian said, ‘No, actually, we are living in trees.’”

Blumenthal and Hermsdoerfer quickly had to get used to two major aspects of college life in the United State: sharing a bedroom and surviving on fast food.

In Germany, they do not have dorms. All of the students live off campus in apartments. Another difference is meal plans are nonexistent in Germany.

But they are not homesick. It is common for European students to travel abroad during their school. In fact, it is mandatory in the aviation management program at the European Business School.

“It is a new experience just to see how the Americans are taught in university because our classes are totally different,” Hermsdoerfer said.

Blumenthal and Hermsdoerfer take four classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Two of those classes are with Nettey, who acts not only as a professor to the students, but as a mentor and a guide.

“What I think is nice is professors, Mr. Nettey especially, care about students outside of class,” Blumenthal said.

Hermsdoerfer said that in Germany there is more distance between students and professors. At Kent State, some professors might even invite a student to lunch, which mostly wouldn’t happen in Germany.

The exchange program sets students up for success. The interactions and experiences that come from the program make the students more marketable.

“Because of the program,” Nettey said, “(students) will be ahead, and they will be ahead because they have gained exposure to commercial aviation on an international scale.”

Contact College of Technology reporter Nicole Aikens

at [email protected].