2021 Fall Germany Miquela Berge Preparing to go Temple Exchange

An unexpected twist

Miquela Berge explains how she shifted from online learning during her freshman year to an unexpected academic year abroad.

If someone had asked me where I would be at the end of my freshman year, preparing to study abroad in a country 4,000 miles away from Philadelphia would not have been my first response.

Like thousands of other students across the world, I spent my first two semesters at Temple in front of my laptop in my childhood bedroom. Slowly, Zoom lectures and online discussion boards became the norm. Research papers were planned, written, and revised from the comfort of my bed, and my desk soon became a cluttered mess of textbooks, notes, and coffee cups. Despite the monotony that came with everyday life, I was still excited to be a student, and one class truly kept me motivated to continue my studies even when I lacked motivation and inspiration: German.

A photo of a green hill filled with flowers and rocks overlooking a small lake and town.
Hiking through the Alps

My love for the country and its language (or, perhaps its chocolate) probably started when my uncle, who often traveled to Germany for work, would ship my mother and me authentic advent calendar Kinder eggs. Overjoyed could not describe my happiness when we would receive these sweets in the mail each winter. Since then, my fondness for German blossomed, and the language eventually became one of my favorite school subjects throughout my academic career.

Though I never expected to study abroad during the 2021 Fall semester, engaging with other passionate German majors and helpful professors encouraged me to pursue the language and culture further through an immersive experience.

A photo showing the Neuschwanstein Castle, a large, fairy-tale like castle with towers.
The Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria

When I saw that Temple offered an exchange program to the University of Hamburg, my heart was set. Not only is the university a major research institution with highly motivated students and professors, but it is located within Hamburg: one of Germany’s most international and culturally diverse cities.

Soon enough, I found myself writing an application for the exchange program, preparing essays for study abroad scholarships, and eventually, trudging through one of the most humid days of the summer in New York City, hands full of documents, to the German Embassy for my student visa application. Now, as I wait for my visa to arrive and spend my summer days watching Netflix and reading books in German, reality sets in. Although I am anxious for what awaits me on the other side, I am also just as excited.

As someone who spent less than a month on Temple’s main campus, going abroad thousands of miles away for the next academic year may seem like a complete 180. But honestly, I could not imagine taking another path. The academic, professional, and personal opportunities and developments that occur while studying abroad are truly unmatched, and I am so grateful to be able to have the chance to study in Hamburg and take advantage of the cultural and social institutions the city and university have to offer this upcoming fall.

As the date of departure nears closer, I find myself downloading budgeting apps, taking mental notes of what to pack in my suitcase, and trying to spend each minute that I can with close friends and family before I leave the old for the new and embark into the unknown.

Thank you so much for reading. I cannot wait to share more of my experiences with you throughout my study abroad journey. 

Interested in studying abroad in Hamburg? Click here!

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