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University College Freiburg, Germany - Schreyer Honors College Program
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Andrea Frank

Andrea Frank

Paterno Fellow
Major: Psychology
Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

How did you learn about this opportunity?

I discovered this study abroad program when an email was sent to freshmen enrolled in the Schreyer Honors College. It detailed a new exchange program that would be taking place between the Schreyer Honors College and the University College Freiburg Liberal Arts and Sciences program in Freiburg, Germany. It was the first time they were running the program, but they will be continuing to run the program yearly for rising sophomores in Schreyer.

"I grew a lot as a scholar, because my traditional viewpoints were challenged, and I gained an understanding of German and other global viewpoints"

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

My experience in Germany was life-changing. I had never left the country before (besides Canada) and was nervous and scared at first. Because the program was new, it was structured to provide more flexibility for the participating students. I began taking classes in English in the Liberal Arts and Sciences program at the University College Freiburg in January. We got to choose our classes (2 classes per block, which is a half-semester). At the end of February, we took an intensive German course for four weeks. Then we had a long break, and we began the next block with 2 more classes at the end of April. Our classes concluded in the middle of June. While abroad, we had plenty of time to travel. We visited Paris and London during the first block. We took a week-long trip in March to Zurich, Innsbruck, Salzburg, Vienna, and Prague. I visited Cologne with my mother for a long weekend. We also went to the Fasnacht (Karneval) parade in the middle of the night in Basel, Switzerland. I later traveled with my parents to Basel and Lucerne in Switzerland, Colmar in France, and Neuschwanstein in Germany. For our last big trip together, the four of us on the exchange visited Brussels, Bruges, and Amsterdam. And to finish off my time in Germany, I visited Munich and Berlin. I got to see and try so many things that I will remember for a lifetime!

How did this experience impact you academically?

This study abroad program allowed me to experience a different university structure. Taking two courses at any given time may seem like an easy work load, but they take place over a month and a half. So classes are two hours at a time, and the coursework is mostly independent and expected even if it is not graded. The few things that are graded then weighed very heavily on my GPA. It was interesting to see how the German university system is much more similar to graduate school than it is to an undergraduate degree in the U.S. Additionally, I had classes with students from all over the world, which allowed me to access new view points about science, politics, ideologies, and more. I grew a lot as a scholar, because my traditional viewpoints were challenged, and I gained an understanding of German and other global viewpoints. Overall, I definitely learned self-control and time management, because the few assignments that we did have were very difficult and time consuming. I learned to sit down and start a paper for a class a month in advance, as opposed to the procrastination that is very common for many students in the US.

What are your career goals and plans?  How did this experience impact them?

I am planning to graduate with a degree in Psychology, B.S. I will be completing an undergraduate thesis and graduating as a Schreyer Scholar. I then hope to go to graduate school for either Social Psychology or Sleep Psychology, depending on the graduate programs to which I apply. I hope to travel at some point before beginning graduate school. I am interested in social psychology in a corporate setting, or possibly in getting a doctorate and becoming a professor. If I pursue a sleep psychology focus, I will most likely be a doctorate researcher. I would like to consider living in Germany someday as a part of these plans, depending upon where I end up for graduate school.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

Yes I absolutely would! This specific program is only available through Schreyer Honors College, but I fell in love with Freiburg, Germany when I was there! I would recommend any program that takes students to the University College Freiburg. They are one of Penn State's main partner universities, and they have so much to offer. It is a beautiful little college city, very green and eco-friendly, and ultimately just a great place to live.

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