On December 23rd, I returned back home to the U.S. the same day. It felt great to be home! I was lucky that I still had funds in my SEPTA Key for the 2 hour train ride and remembered how to navigate the SEPTA Regional Rail’s schedule and maps. If not, I would be stuck at the airport longer than usual trying to figure out how to get home…with my mother and aunt who came to “pick me up” with no plans ahead on how to get back home using the trains. I like to think that my time in Germany using public transportation almost everyday helped me greatly improve my navigating skills- of course, I’ll still get lost. Me? Knowing directions without GPS? I must’ve hit my head!
When I arrived home, my grandma thought I was gone for a month! Obviously, she knows I’ve been away for a couple months, but it felt fast to her. I am glad to see that she is doing well amidst the pandemic. And speaking of the pandemic, many family members and friends were wary of my health because of the Omicron variant. Other than possibly catching a cold as I do every winter, I’m doing very well, and I plan to get my booster shot, and flu shot early January before my classes at Drexel start. I really hope the situation gets better.
I had a lot of unpacking to do- making sure documents that I need to keep are in order, all technology are working, putting away clothes, and wrapping gifts before Christmas! Something from Germany that I brought over was some Glühwein, or rather, Kinderpunsch, so everyone can drink it and get a taste of what a Christmas Market might smell like in Germany. I’m already low on Kinderpunsch. I guess that means everyone likes it!
There were also plants that I tried to bring into the U.S., but that process can be very confusing. I made sure to clean the plants so that there would be no sign of soil and pest, just bareroot. The only thing missing were the plant certificates, and it would be way too late to acquire them. I received the plants from a friend who asked me to care for them since no one else would, but it was a week before departure. When you enter the U.S., remember to declare what you have! You can get into big trouble and face a hefty fine if you are not honest.
It’s January 3rd (back to classes already, huh?) as I’m writing my last blog entry about my experience abroad Germany, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program, and the support of my family, advisors, and professors! Even with so many events and plans being cancelled, I am extremely thankful…getting the opportunity to travel kept my spirits up as I continued my studies, met new people, indulged in some of Germany’s culture, and getting involved in events and organizations, ones that were left at least.
With the Gilman Scholarship, I was able to feel comfortable with my expenses, receiving just enough with some spare funding! I actually thought I needed more, but that was probably my “on-budget” mind thinking. I was anxious, especially when I do not have a stable way to earn income, and thought I would have to ask my family to support me abroad. There was no major troubles that I needed to call assistance for, but the International SOS was helpful in alerting me of possible strikes/protests and other disruptions. Those events occurred often while I was in Germany!
The University of Mannheim isn’t the only university that you can attend in the state, and I highly encourage other students to study in Germany or somewhere in Europe. It’s very affordable, and there will be courses that you will enjoy learning about. I certainly enjoyed mine! In most cases, classes are offered in English. If I had forgotten to mention, I am only studying at the University of Mannheim for a semester because it is catered towards business and sociology whereas in my major, sociology only makes up about a quarter or so of my required degree- but what an abundance of business and sociology courses!
As long you know how to keep track of your budget, students planning to study abroad should take the opportunity to apply for the Gilman Scholarship. And when you are done with your program? I think you will feel proud of yourself for taking the opportunity to try a new experience and to grow as a person. There are other opportunities waiting for you!
And now, the story ends here. The journey was crazy, from preparing flights and legal documents, to learning how to read public transport schedules and adapting to work from a different time zone. In the future, I plan to write more blogs like these, about my traveling experience in Europe and Asia. That’s why I called it Tales Abroad Ost (on the original blog site)…Ost is east, and Europe and Asia on the map is east of the U.S.! The U.S. is still home to me, but I hope to revisit Germany again, and other countries to continue learning more about their culture and history! The adventure continues in the future…Aufwiedersehen!
Image by Darkmoon_Art on Pixabay
A Message from the Office of Global Engagement:
The safety and security of Drexel students is a priority for the University. As part of the efforts to support Drexel students that are studying abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of Global Engagement has conducted a rigorous review of programming and provided additional support to participating students with customized pre-departure orientations and regular check-ins during the required self-isolation period and the term.