Bound for Berlin! How I'm Preparing for Study Abroad

josef kiesenhofer headshot
Josef Kiesenhofer
August 25, 2023
Image depicting a forest of evergreen trees with the sun casting a golden glow on the treetops.

My study abroad training montage would feature a lot of footage of me placating the Duolingo owl. By day, I’m click-clacking away on my computer doing accounting work for my summer internship. By night, it’s all about knocking out my daily language-learning streak to fight back against the passive-aggressive notifications thrown by that habit-setting bird. Don’t get me wrong, I am a major fan of the app. Not only do I see myself progressively growing my vocabulary that I will one day use day-to-day in Berlin (figuring out my coffee order in German was a major win), but the daily, consistent use of the app continues to grow my excitement and more for this incredible abroad experience. By day 365 of my streak (I'm at 350 right now), I will find myself on an entirely different continent reaping the rewards of that language-learning habit.

Not only am I picking up new words every day to spite the Duolingo owl, but I’m also trying to passively switch my brain into “German mode.” No, I’m not showing up to work clad in Lederhosen yet. I did, however, switch my cell phone to German, thus presenting me with the daily challenges of figuring out what on earth the mobile games on my phone are trying to get me to accomplish (Candy Crush in German is now delightful AND educational). Now I am getting comfortable with understanding temperature in Celsius and navigating everyday tasks with more German on my mind.

Beyond the language preparation, this is also my first time figuring out many nuances of adult life that I haven’t thought to touch yet. Passport offices? Consulates? Prescriptions abroad? Foreign exchange fees? I’m getting a Kopfschmerzen. Despite the challenges of diving into these numerous logistical components of study abroad, I am extremely fortunate to be able to lean on such incredible resources as my home university, my parents, and, of course, IES Abroad Berlin! By making a list of my pre-departure housekeeping items and slowly checking boxes, I feel as though I’m slowly grabbing onto more balloons that will eventually float me over the Atlantic to my new temporary home.

One thing about me: I’m a planner. Let me tell you, I will budget and make itineraries detailed and thorough so that, if you’re traveling with me, feel comfortable knowing I have the 411 on the destination, lodging, transportation, cuisine, best bathrooms, insider tips…you get the picture. Considering this, I’m thumbing through a travel book on Berlin to curate my many “dream weekends” in Berlin. From the Museumsinsel to Schloss Charlottenburg, I want to see it all (and I intend to do so by tapping into my master planner abilities).

Finally, I’m preparing to study abroad by taking the time to enjoy what I’m leaving. I’m extremely grateful to be taking part in a remote internship for the summer because that means more family time! Although we are all excited to see me off, this will be the longest time I have been away from my family, and the toll of that is certainly not to be underestimated. My dad is teaching me to cook, and my mom and I are seeing as many summer blockbusters as we can. I feel a bit tight in my chest even now as I visualize the day that I’ll board the plane, yet my family has been so supportive of my desire to study abroad, and I know they will be cheering me on as I begin my journey. While hanging out in the living room with your family may not be the first thing someone thinks of when they say, “study abroad prep,” it is certainly important to me to soak up all the quality time I can.

P.S. I’m also getting my fill of buffalo wings and Cheez-Its, as I’ve heard those are scarce in Germany and they are some fav foods of mine :)

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Josef Kiesenhofer

Howdy folks! My name is Josef Kiesenhofer, and I'm a passionate accounting, German, and Spanish student excited to explore the world. I love all things blue and embroidering on clothes. I sometimes have a broadcast radio DJ show, too!

2023 Fall
Home University:
Tulane University of Louisiana
German Language
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