Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Rebecca Bilbro Returns from a Year in Eichstätt, Our Program Abroad for German Majors and Minors

   My year abroad in Eichstätt was one of the best experiences of my life. It was definitely different than spending time at CSB/SJU, but I loved it. The most surprising thing about my first week in Eichstätt was how accessible everything was. In Minnesota, you need a car to get around, but in Eichstätt, you can walk almost everywhere in a short amount of time. What you can't walk to is easily reached by one of the many reasonably priced buses. I was also surprised at the amount of cafes and grocery stores within walking distance. Eichstätt is a small town, but I could easily walk to at least five grocery stores and countless cafes and bakeries.
   I was lucky enough to live right next to the Marktplatz, so it was a quick walk to the bakeries and some of the shops. It was a 10 minute walk to the university and about 15 minutes to the main library, but it was a pleasant walk when the weather was nice. I shared my apartment with another international student, but I had my own bedroom. The apartment was a bit small, but it worked for us. Our kitchen didn't have an oven, but there were shared kitchens with ovens on the main floor. Overall, the living situation was quite nice.
    When the semester started, I took lots of German classes. I could have taken classes in English, but I chose to take all of them in German. There were a lot of courses that were specifically for international students, so my teachers were all understanding to the needs of non-native German speakers. I took German literature classes, a class to help with proper German pronunciation, classes to help with reading and comprehension, and even a theater class! Each class was once a week, so I had a lot of free time to work on homework, meet with friends, and enjoy the town. Since my classes were meant to help improve my German, I don't think they were as strenuous as most classes at the university were. I did get homework, but it didn't seem to be as much as what I'd get at CSB/SJU. I can't really compare the classes, though, since I've never taken classes at CSB/SJU that were meant for students who don't speak English as a first language.
   The most helpful person in Eichstätt was the woman in the international office. I did get paired up with a student who had been studying in Eichstätt for years, and while he was helpful, the woman in the international office was able to answer all of my questions about classes, forms to fill out, and more. If you're planning on spending time at the university in Eichstätt, be sure to take advantage of the help the international office offers. They provide quick and helpful answers to any question you may have. You should also take advantage of the activities and excursions put on by AK International (a student-run group for international students). I was able to travel to many places for incredibly low prices: I even got to go to Salzburg for the day for only 10€!
    During my time in Eichstätt, I was able to learn and experience so much. It would be difficult to choose just one good memory out of all of them, but I will never forget spending afternoons in my favorite cafe in the Marktplatz, drinking coffee and talking to new friends.
    Welcome home, Rebecca!