Many students probably ask themselves why studying abroad is so important. The answer is quite simple: With a globalized world and the strong competition for jobs, students should look for special qualifications to make their resume stand out. Studying abroad for a semester or being an intern is doing exactly that.

“I mean the trivial fact about globalization is that it has made communication and transportation easy. Many companies have become global, they hire people that have a global outlook and a global experience in their resume,” says Professor Schäfer, the Associate Dean for International Academic Programs at Stony Brook University.

The International Office at SBU advertises their programs with the slogan “ Go abroad, get ahead” and there are many Universities that SBU has an exchange program with. Such partnerships also exist with German Universities. The country is often remembered for it’s dark history, but from living there my whole life I can tell you that it has so much more to offer, like the mediterranean climate, the beautiful landscape and Germany  is also “a leading economy and a leading  proponent of the EU” adds Prof. Schäfer.

For many American students it may seems hard to understand why they should leave their diverse country when they  already speak English – the global means of communication. “It is the reverse of globalization, it is a localization.

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Many American students are rather provincial. And the US is after all almost a whole continent. But it is fun to be in Europe. Public transportation makes is possible to travel in a few hours from Munich to Venice or from Hamburg to Copenhagen. All done in half a day.”

Studying abroad is not only about receiving credits but also about getting to know a foreign culture,  it is about living away from home,  trying different food, experiencing a different lifestyle and it is also about discovering yourself and maturing as a person.

Prof. Schäfer also points out that it “might seem abstract to tell a student to learn a language, but  if you travel to another country, you will learn the language”. Germany is not as different from America as you may assume.

The differences are subtle and easy to adjust to, even if you don’t speak the language because almost everyone in Germany speaks english. One major difference a student from America may find that in some cases, Germans seem uncommunicative at first but “friendship is based on experience, time and knowledge. It is acquired in a more time consuming way and therefor not instantaneous. But if it is acquired, it is a very rewarding friendship” Prof. Schäfer points out.

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While studying in Germany will not only help you acquire great friendships you also have to opportunity to attend one of Germanys historic Universities such as my home University, the Eberhard-Karls University of Tübingen. Tübingen is a nice old town with a river in the center of Baden- Württemberg. It’s University was founded in 1477 and there are about 25.000 students enrolled today. Another partnership exists with the Universty of Bonn.

Bonn is a big city at the Rhine river with it’s University founded in 1818. The third  partnership is with the University of Konstanz at the Lake Constance in Germanys most southern part with borders to France walking distance to Switzerland.

These three are the active programs with several exchange students both ways each year. Prof. Schäfer is currently working on an exchange program with a Berlin University because “Berlin has proven to be very attractive to people from all around the world.

It is suddenly hip, has lots of art, music, good universities, the government, a lot of housing possibilities and cheap food”.

Stony Brook students can also apply for an exchange with Universities in Bremen, Freiburg, Mainz and Würzburg. If going for a whole semester scares you or is too expensive, you can always go for a summer program. Many of the Universities offering semester programs provide the opportunity to attend a summer course for several weeks.

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These courses will help you learn or improve your German but  also offer other interesting subjects.

Now there should be one major question left: How can you apply? For any further information, go to the International Academic Programs located in the Melville Library in room E- 5340 or visit the homepage http://www.stonybrook.edu/studyabroad/. And remember: Going abroad DOES get you ahead.

I am still only half way through my exchange and I have met amazing people, learned exciting things, have seen beautiful cities, have improved my english but first and foremost,  I have grown as a person.

I know now what I am capable of and I am much closer to figuring out what I want than I was before. And these are features that companies look for when hiring college graduates. All I can do is encourage you to study abroad and I can promise you: It will change your life!

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