Study abroad is a life-changing experience, and our program alumni are living proof that the decisions you make abroad can influence where life takes you after graduation. We love hearing from our alumni about how their time abroad has shaped their lives, so we reconnected with some alumni to chat about their study abroad experiences and where they are now. Keep reading to hear from Megan, a USAC Lüneburg alumna.
Megan, a law student currently living in Eugene, Ore., majored in English Literature and minored in the German language. Her language minor led her to study abroad in Lüneburg, Germany in 2014 before graduating and moving back to Germany to serve as a guest researcher with the Fulbright Program.
Why did you decide to study abroad? Why did you choose your program?
As a freshman, I enrolled in German to satisfy a language requirement. I loved the classes, and after taking the four semesters offered by my university, I didn’t want to lose any of the progress I had made. As I was looking into programs in Germany, I was drawn in by the pictures of Lüneburg — it is unbelievably beautiful — and I knew it was the program for me.
How did study abroad fit into your academic and professional goals?
My time in Lüneburg had a huge impact on my academic and professional goals. In one of my USAC classes, we studied German history, which included a walking tour of sites around town that were significant during the Holocaust and World War II. Later that day, an area near the Altstadt was actually closed while authorities diffused an old American bomb dating from that era, and I remember thinking about how strange it was that the history I learned about in class still had such an impact on modern German life.
When I returned to Reno, Nev., I kept studying German with my professor and took an interest in Holocaust literature. As graduation approached, I applied for a Fulbright Fellowship to study with a Holocaust literature institute in Giessen, Germany, writing about my experiences that day in Lüneburg. I’m sure that, without that personal experience in Germany, I would not have received the Fulbright.
When did you graduate? What are you doing now?
After graduating in 2016, I moved to Giessen, Germany to study as a Fulbright Scholar from 2017-18. There, I was a guest researcher with the Arbeitsstelle Holocaustliteratur, where I attended classes on German and Holocaust literature (all taught in German) and researched the intersection of Holocaust theatre and testimonial literature.
When I returned home, I attended the University of Oregon, School of Law, and graduated this year. I am currently studying for the Oregon Bar Exam.
Looking back, how did study abroad play a role in getting you to where you are now?
Study abroad played a major role in getting me here. In addition to the experiences I’ve already talked about, studying abroad made me a more confident traveler and introduced me to some amazing people. Even today, I still visit with friends that I made in Lüneburg.
Why do you think international education is important?
International education made me a more confident and understanding person, and I think that is generally true of anyone who experiences studying abroad. I expect that, as I enter the legal field, both of these traits will be critical as I learn to be compassionate with clients while advocating on their behalf.
What was your favorite class you took while studying abroad?
My German language courses! I loved learning from native German speakers and engaging with other students who were also really invested in learning the language.
Do you plan on returning to your host city? If not, where do you plan on traveling next?
While I was living in Giessen, I made a trip up to Lüneburg and it was just as magical as I remembered. I ate Apfelstrudel by the Ilmenau river.
Is there any advice you would give to students interested in studying abroad?
Absolutely study abroad. When you’re there, make an effort to meet locals by joining clubs, attending events, or just striking up a conversation at the bar.