Horns meet World. World meet Autumn Cox-Sweet. Autumn is a fourth year International Relations and Global Studies major. She studied abroad the spring of her sophomore year at the Europa-Universitaet-Viadrina in Germany. Autumn spent a year living and working in Germany before coming to UT. She studied abroad there to become truly fluent in the language and better understand the differences in culture that remain between former East and West Germany. Here is what she had to say about her trip.
I arrived in Berlin on a Tuesday in late March. I spent two nights with a friend in Berlin and then took the train to Frankfurt (Oder) early in the morning that Thursday. The train wasn’t running on its usual schedule so I had to take the train after the one I had planned on. I was unable to tell Alex, the German student who had agreed to pick me up, that I was late so I was a little unsure of what to do when I finally arrived. Thankfully there was wifi in the train station and Alex was able to come back and pick me up since the city is not very big.
After picking me up, Alex took me to register with the city council. We then went back to the train station to pick up some students from Columbia; went to register with the student housing office ‘Studentenwerk’; and were all dropped off at our apartments for the night. I had rented sheets, a pillow, a blanket, a plate and some silverware from the Studentenwerk, so all I needed was food and wifi. I then went to the grocery store across the street, and Alex was able to bring me a wifi router that his friend was selling later that night. The next morning, Alex picked me up, along with the Colombian students, and took us to the bank to open German bank accounts for the purpose of paying rent. We then went to the university to get matriculated, and back to the Studentenwerk to turn in our bank information. I met more exchange students at the bank and during the matriculation process. So by the time orientation began the next Monday, I had already made several friends.
Orientation was a blur because there were so many new things to learn and people to meet. It was really great because I was with all of the other exchange students all day, for five days. There were around 200 of us from all parts of the world. I met people from Mexico, Columbia, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, France, Spain, Taiwan and many others. I also met the two groups of friends that I would spent most of my time with for the next four months, on the first day. It was so easy to meet people during that time, because everyone had chosen to come here without knowing anyone and were so excited to meet knew people and have adventures.
Classes started the next week and I began to settle into a routine. For the first two months, I only had two classes which only met once a week. I had lots of free time to explore the city with my new friends and to discover the Polish city on the other side of the Oder River. There were a lot of fun events put on by the language school and the student organization called Interstudis, so there was always something exciting to do. I was also able to find opportunities to volunteer to help Syrian refugees who were staying in the city. One of my friends, Martina, also invited me to a bible study at the local Catholic church so I was able to connect to the local German and Polish community through that. I also had lots of time to visit friends in Berlin who I had met during my gap year, prior to coming to UT.
There are so many more stories I could tell about my experience. I loved my time in Frankfurt (Oder) and learned so much about myself, others, and the world around me. For more about my experiences in Germany, during and prior to study abroad, please check out my other posts here.
if you enjoyed reading about Autumn’s trip, check out the program she went on here. Come check out our blog next week to see where our Horns pop us next!