In this two part blog I will be discussing the good, the bad, and the ugly of studying abroad at Jacobs University in Bremen, Germany. *Spoiler Alert: it’s mostly ugly*
In part 1, I will tell you about why I decided to spend a semester 5,000 miles away from home. I want to tell you a story that will give you some insight into why coming to Germany was so important to me.
As an international relations major, I always intended on studying abroad, not just because my major requires it, but because I really do want to see the world and become a more global citizen. When I decided I would study abroad, I next had to pick a country. There are many factors to consider when deciding on a country: course offered, language, location, etc. For me, there was never really a question of where I would be going. Story time!
My Oma, or grandma, was from Germany. She grew up in a city called Kaiserslautern. By the time I was old enough to speak, she had developed Alzheimers and passed away when I was very young. In recent years I have begun to ask my mom and her sisters about her life in Germany during the war. She was a mix of mostly German and French (therefore not “pure” German) and had thick, dark, curly hair. They said she would have to braid her hair tight to hide her curls; this was always an important memory for me because I got my curly hair from her. When her home was invaded by the Nazi’s, she was sent to a work camp because she had an uncle who was in the SS, and helped keep her from the death camps. She spent her teenage years building bombs in a concentration camp during World War II.
After the war, she met my grandpa who was in the American army, and moved to America (See image below). They had five kids, including my mother, and spent some time living in both the US and Germany. When my aunts and uncle were growing up, my grandparents often spoke German, English and a little Spanish. My mom was the youngest by several years, so by the time she was older, everyone was primarily speaking English. My aunts never taught their kids German and my mom never learned (except for the bad words when she got in trouble) so I felt like that important part of my family history was dying. That is why I wanted to go to Germany. I was determined to learn about the life and culture and become proficient in the language so I could pass it on to my kids one day.
(My Oma and Grandpa)
Read part two for the good, the bad, and the ugly.