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Study Abroad Interviews

Katie Joy Wicker

Age: 22

Degrees: Organizational Communication & Public Relations. Minor: International Studies

Prior Language Knowledge: 3 years in high school, 2 years at MSUB, and 1 semester as the Teacher's Assistant for German 101 at MSUB.

Study abroad location: Ludwigsburg, Germany

Length: April - August 2008

Why?
I wanted to study abroad since I did a short 10-day visit to Germany in high school the summer of 2004. I wanted to be immersed in the language and practice a German dialect. It's so hard to consistently practice speaking German in Billings, MT. I always thought it would be too expensive since I'm paying for college out of my own pocket, but I was able to work really hard and pull all my resources together to do it.

Would you do it again?
Most definitely!! I am planning on returning to Ludwigsburg during the fall semester of 2010, and I want to return to Germany once I graduate to continue German Biblical studies through Youth With A Mission (Y.W.A.M.).

Katie sightseeing in Germany with a friendWhat was your favorite part?
I loved attending a Communication lecture at the University and seeing how the Germans view this Social Science. I also really enjoyed traveling all around Germany on the weekends with my international friends.

What was your least favorite part?
Attending an advanced grammar class was the most painful experience in my German language career, but it was super beneficial. I was able to review what David Crisp taught us at MSUB and learn new grammatical features of the language. A lot of the new concepts went over my head, but I know that as I review them it will improve the quality of my conversational German immensely.

What was the easiest aspect of your study abroad experience?
Finding cultural food to sample, great shopping, and a variety of activities to participate in that normally you would not find in Montana, and even in America.

What was the most difficult/challenging part of studying abroad?
Planning my trip was tedious, as well as a challenge. MSUB was in transition of choosing a permanent International Studies Office Coordinator, and therefore, much of the planning process fell on the outgoing students. Additionally, I am a type A personality and had to plan every detail I could think of prior to departure. It was a three-month process that I worked on almost everyday for at least an hour while working 50+ hours, but it made the study abroad semester run smoothly for me, once I was in Germany.

Katie Joy with a friend on a hike in GermanyHow has this study abroad affected your life now?
My conversational German has improved vastly. I have tremendous confidence in carrying out an entire collegiate conversation with a complete stranger. Also, living in a foreign land has stretched me in ways that I never knew possible. I never really realized how ethnocentric I was until I "did life" each day with German, Russian, Hungarian, Italian and French students, and realized how differently we see life. I feel now that I have more understanding of the diversity across the globe, and it has made me a better person; also, it has helped me realize who I really am, what I stand for, and what minute differences I will let roll off my shoulders when such an occasion calls for it.

What advice/words of wisdom would you offer students interested in studying abroad?
My recommendation for every student in college is to consider a study abroad experience. A month, a semester or a full year, will really grow you. Really think about going abroad in your later college years. It will improve your language skills, expose you to various cultures, you will enjoy different shopping, sports, music, food, friends and I promise you, you will never forget this time of your life!

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