On Jan. 30 from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m a special interest meeting was held in the Orangerie beside Binford for the Munich study abroad program. As people filed into the Orangerie, the air was filled with excited chatter as the students who studied abroad in Munich during the fall semester prepared presentations.
As students found their seats, Chair of the Modern Language Studies Department Dave Limburg offered attendees pretzels, chocolates and homemade “Spezi,” a soft drink of German origin that is a mix of Cola and orange soda. The treats were a well-received introduction to the Bavarian culture and foods soon to be introduced to the crowd.
During the presentations, the students shared their various experiences, including one student’s host father, whom the group lovingly referred to as ‘Opa’, the German word for grandpa.
“We all had amazing host families” said junior Anthony Carr, pointing to a picture of the various families who were gracious enough to house the program’s students during their stay. “They were all so nice, and then Opa was hilarious.”
Regarding housing, Limburg announced that things were changing a bit, and that students going to Munich for the three-week semester would be staying in places such as hostels. Students studying in Munich for the 12-week semester will still be living with host families.
The presenters then switch to their next slides, introducing the fun day-to-day life they had in Germany. Many students took advantage of Munich’s centralized location in Europe to travel across the continent. Senior Finn Shepard traveled both inside and outside of Germany’s borders.
“I went to Berlin, which I liked a lot,” Shepard said. “It was interesting to compare it to Munich in terms of accents and cultural mannerisms. Some of us also visited Amsterdam, which was also nice, especially with all of the canals. It was my first time seeing that type of city layout.”
On top of travel, Munich alumni also made sure to let interested students know that while drinking is common – and encouraged – in Bavaria, it isn’t required.
“Just because the legal drinking age is lower than here doesn’t mean you have to go out and get drunk. People there definitely enjoy their beer, but it’s important to do so responsibly,” said Study Abroad Assistant Director Robert Van Pelt.
According to Van Pelt, there are some things students should know and keep in mind regarding the program. The Study Abroad Office, which is still actively working on balancing all of their programs, is currently looking at the possibility of students having to pay for flight costs, but tuition for the program will remain the same as it has for other programs.
This information is still liable to change, and Limburg promised to keep students up-to-date on such news. Students also receive a meal stipend in lieu of the on-campus meal plans and Grill Cash.
Van Pelt also went into detail about students who may need a passport. The Study Abroad team is working with the Center of Intercultural Exchange and Education to offer free passports to students in need.
“Aside from having the regular forms and identifications necessary to apply, the only catch for these (passports) is that you must not have ever had a passport before,” said Van Pelt. “If you’ve never had a passport before in your life, and you have the right stuff to get one, you can come to our office and we’ll help you begin the application process, with the charge covered thanks to the Passport Caravan.”
As of Jan. 30, approximately half of the 100 passport offers were still left, according to Van Pelt.
“Once the deadline approaches, we’ll gather everyone who’s applied and head on down to the office to get everything sent in,” said Van Pelt. “After a number of weeks, you’ll have a brand new passport in your mailbox.”
Shepard emphasized the language-building skills and independence he built in Munich.
“I spent 19 years in the same house, just travelling pretty much in the continental U.S., with a few trips to other countries in this same hemisphere,” Shepard said. “For me, my time in Germany was also a way for me to be independent and kind of establish a life for myself with my host family in my host town.”