Students discuss studying abroad

Katie Roupe

Beth Irwin, junior German translation major, talks to sophomore advertising major Kristen Thompson about her study abroad experience in Germany. KATIE ROUPE | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: John Proppe

Beth Irwin, junior German translation major, had been trying all semester to get someone to go with her to Munich. When the semester was over and Irwin still hadn’t gone, she decided to travel to Munich by herself.

“Hey, I just wanted to let you know I am in Munich for the weekend,” Irwin said to her family over the phone.

“You can’t even go to a bathroom by yourself in America,” her sister replied.

But Irwin said she changed since she started her study abroad semester in Germany.

“I’ve become more open and well spoken and outgoing,” Irwin said. “It was such a cool experience. I’m so proud of myself for having done it.”

Irwin and Tyler Allchin, junior political science major, discussed their study abroad experiences with other students at an information session that was part of International Education Week.

Irwin said she decided to take courses other than the international classes spoken in English to improve her German and get to know more German students.

“The first day I had no idea what the person just said,” Irwin said. “I had no idea what was going on. But as the semester went on it was great and I learned more and more.”

The learning didn’t end in the classrooms, she said.

Students were expected to grocery shop, set up bank accounts and pay bills on their own in a foreign country.

“You pick up on stuff very quickly,” Allchin said. “It’s a community of knowledge.”

Allchin, who studied abroad in Geneva, Switzerland, said his experience enhanced his world view.

“I have a much more broad knowledge of Europe,” Allchin said. “I’m more well rounded. It’s nice to go to places you read about and put a mental image with what you are reading.”

Sophomore exploratory major Diana Houle and sophomore advertising major Kristen Thompson, the only two in attendance, said they came to the event to find how to prepare for their future study abroad semesters in Geneva. Houle and Thompson asked several questions on the cost, packing and night life.

“They (Genevans) aren’t looking to get drunk,” Allchin said. “They are looking to have a conversation and smoke two packs of cigarettes. You just have to adapt to how they live.”

Even though Irwin and Allchin tried to adapt to the overseas cultures, they both said they experienced people with preconceived ideas of Americans. Irwin said the best way to deal with stereotypical comments is to just ignore it and move on.

“You’re not a stereotype,” Irwin said. “No one is.”

Contact honors and international affairs reporter Katie Roupe at [email protected].