Hey there! My name is Lorraine Engleman, and I’m extremely excited to be a participant in the IES Abroad European Union Summer program this year! I’m from Moberly, Indiana, and I study Elementary Education at Indiana University Southeast. Between classes at IUS, observing my practicum kiddos at Whitney Young Elementary, and subbing at my alma mater, school is pretty much my life, so it’s only fitting that my summer in Germany revolves around school as well!
Three days from now, I will be on my plane heading for Freiburg, Germany, which is crazy. Let me give you a little context as to why this is so crazy for me: For all of twenty years, I have lived with my parents. At our house. In Indiana. You know what’s in Indiana? Corn. All I know is corn. And when all you know is corn, leaving the cornfield is a pretty big deal. I’ve never been on a plane, I’ve never been out of the U.S., and I’ve never been away from my family for more than two nights. Scared? Nein. Terrified? Ja. But in a good way.
My study abroad story is a little unconventional. I’m not an International Studies major or anything, and I can’t speak German (you just saw all I’ve got). I don’t come from a family of worldly travelers. I’m going more for myself: to take pictures, meet people, and get out of my comfort zone exploring the country of my ancestors. I also hope to be able to bring facets of my trip into my classroom someday. There are a lot of reasons to put off a trip like this, but I’ve realized the truth is that I’ll never be less afraid, or have more time, or make more money (I’m going to be a teacher, remember?). My life will probably never arrive at that magical optimum time for travelling, so I’m just going to go for it.
So here’s the scoop: I’ll be in Germany for about eight weeks, with fieldtrips to Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cyprus, and Greece. I’ve been moved to a single apartment due to high housing demand, so no roommates like I was expecting. I’m taking two courses (which are in English, luckily): the required seminar From Marginalization to Inclusion?: The Balkans, Turkey, and the EU and my elective Orient Meets Occident: Cultures, Religions, and Identities of Turkey and the Balkans. There are eleven of us in the program coming from all across the U.S., so it will be neat to meet people who are from my country but not my state.
Right now I feel like I’m in packing limbo because I want to get stuff accomplished, but there’s only so much you can actually put in your suitcase this far in advance. Between getting a passport, ordering Euros, buying an international power converter, clearing my cards for spending abroad, figuring out a phone plan, browsing plane ticket options, composing a playlist of American classics, and various other preparations, I’ve been keeping pretty busy, though. I’ve decided I have to keep myself too busy to start worrying. I’ve already struggled with keeping my concerns at bay: What if I miss my flight? How big of an issue will it be that I can’t speak German? What if I fail my classes? How can I expect to learn my way around a new city when I get lost at Wal-Mart?
What I should probably be worried about the most is how I’m ever going to get out of debt! Although I did get a $1000 grant (thank you IES Abroad), it only makes a dent in the nearly $8000 program fee, which doesn’t even include things like the price of plane tickets, a passport, meals, etc. (If you’re considering studying abroad, I’d recommend you start saving now!) To go on this trip I’ve had to clear out every cent I’ve saved since I was twelve, and I’m uncomfortable with this new lack of a safety net. However, every time I think about the expense, my mind goes back to something my high school art teacher once said. One of my classmates was talking of turning down their choice college due to the high cost, and he said, “Listen. You will have your whole career to pay it back. And you will. So don’t let the money keep you from doing this if it’s what you really want.”
What he said has stuck with me in this situation, and he’s right, of course. This is probably going to be the most exciting thing that will ever happen to me, and you can’t put a dollar sign on memories.
Wish me luck!
P.S. To read a more in-depth account of my trip, you're more than welcome to visit my personal blog at https://lorrainesjourneytogermany.blogspot.com
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<p>Hey! My name's Lorraine, and I'm a 20-year-old junior at Indiana University Southeast. I'm an Elementary Education major and substitute teacher at North Harrison Community Schools. Check out my blog as I spend eight kid-free weeks in Freiburg, Germany!</p>