I did not have long to prepare before I left for Germany. I was returning home from an internship and knew I would only have 5 days to pack. It would be at least 5 months before I would have a chance to be home again, so I needed to be sure that I would have all the necessities. The physical packing wasn’t so much a problem as was mentally preparing to leave. I am an out-of-state student, so moving away wasn’t new to me, but Germany was much farther and more foreign than UA.
I had decided before I began studying at the University that I would spend my entire 3rd year in Germany. I didn’t really think about my decision to pursue this opportunity to much, studying abroad was just something I knew that I wanted to do, and this was an excellent way to do it. I knew that it would be not only a great cultural experience, but I would also be able to earn some credits towards my degree. I knew that it would require a lot of work, but I was glad to be able to break up the monotony of a 4-year degree.
A large part of my preparation was learning the language in order to take any courses I wanted. I would study for a semester and then try to find an internship in the country. The language learning was probably the most intensive part, as I had to pass a language exam before I could go. I have been actively learning German for almost 3 years now and I still learn new words and phrases every day. However, no amount of learning can prepare you for interacting with native speakers in their hometown.