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Why study abroad?

Making the commitment to study abroad for an entire semester is a big decision. It’s something every student should seriously consider because the chance to live and study a whole semester overseas comes only once a lifetime. Why study abroad? Read the interview with Drayton Wingler why studying abroad was one of the best decisions he made at Carolina:

What’s your major and minor? What is your graduating class? What motivated you to go abroad?

I am a German major with minors in History an Computer Science who will be graduating with the class of 2023. I’d always wanted to go to Europe but never had the opportunity before studying abroad. I considered studying abroad for years because I always thought it would be a fun and unique experience that I’d only be able to exploit as a college student. With a bit of pushing from one of my professors, I finally decided in my junior year to study abroad. My goal was to grow more as a worldly person by finally visiting Europe.

When and where did you spend your spring semester abroad? What did you find cool about the town and country where you lived?

I spent the spring semester of my junior year, from March to August of 2022, in Stuttgart, Germany. One of the things I immediately liked about Germany was the landscape and architecture. By German standards, Stuttgart is not considered to be particularly attractive, but compared to American cities it’s much more architecturally diverse and pleasant to look at, largely due to the rich history of the area. The varied architecture made traveling throughout Germany and visiting different cities enjoyable. The extensive public transportation was also great, and it works very thanks to the population density in European cities. My favorite thing about Stuttgart was the cars: I’ve always been a huge car enthusiast and Stuttgart happens to be the home of both Mercedes-Benz and Porsche (the museums for which are definitely worth visiting).

What did you learn abroad that you could have never learned while at Carolina?

There are numerous cultural differences between Germany and the US. Getting used to these changes turned my trip into one giant learning experience. It was very interesting to see how other countries solve social problems, especially since their solutions are significantly different than what I’m used to. For example, because Germany is so very environmentally minded, I had to deal with a much more complex recycling system in my dorm, where household waste was sorted into one of six different bins. It was also really interesting to see the cultural differences I hadn’t anticipated: who knew that smoking is still popular in Europe! Culture shock was always a learning experience that made my semester abroad fascinating. I want to travel now even more.

What advice about studying abroad do you have for other GSLL students?

The best advice I can offer to anyone considering studying abroad is to put yourself out there and try to have experiences that you won’t be able to find at Carolina. While studying abroad, I had plenty of moments of doubt and homesickness when I wasn’t sure if I would complete my semester abroad. What kept me going were all the many new experiences I gained studying, living and traveling in Europe. Studying abroad was an opportunity unlike any other: I exposed myself to the unknown and learned firsthand about peoples and cultures different from those from home. I was often outside my comfort zone, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Go for a year or a semester or a summer. Go!

Studying abroad is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that no college student should pass up. Students beginning a GSLL language can skyrocket quickly into higher courses by studying the language abroad. Majors can acquire up to fifty percent – minors are limited to just twenty-five percent – of the required courses for their degree while abroad. Most importantly, any and all who study abroad will learn lessons about life – the big picture as it were – nowhere to be found on Carolina’s campus.

So what are you waiting for? Your friends will be here when you get back. And Carolina’s not going anywhere. While you’re gone, they’ll read your Facebook wall, and you can Skype with mom and dad all the time. Studying abroad, go for as long as you possibly can!

Not sure if you should study abroad? Not sure whether you should commit a whole year or semester to study abroad? Not sure what study abroad can contribute to your future professional aspirations? Consider Professor Layne’s biography, in which she tells about her decision to study the German language and eventually live and study abroad.

GSLL works closely with the Study Abroad Office to create, develop, and maintain attractive opportunities abroad for the widest possible student audience interested in one of the eight languages offered by GSLL.

Don’t speak Czech but want to study in the Czech Republic? No problem! Want to get your foreign language requirement out of the way over the summer in Berlin? No problem! Interested in continuing your degree in the natural sciences abroad? No problem! Interested in learning a Germanic language like Swedish not currently offered at Carolina? No problem!

UNC is ranked again 17th for Study Abroad in the United States by the 2018 Open Doors Survey. If you want to study abroad, UNC has resources to help you find opportunities and funding.

Chappel Study Abroad Scholarships

With the help of private support, the Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures can offer undergraduate German majors and minors small, merit-based scholarships to support the additional costs often incurred when studying abroad. Chappel Scholarships are available to students who have chosen a UNC-approved program that lasts a year, semester or summer. In order to apply for a scholarship, students must submit 1) the official application form along with 2) a copy of their transcript and 3) written proof of their completed application for a study abroad program (e.g., email confirmation from Study Abroad). Applications sent to gsllscholarship@unc.edu must be received by October 15 for support in the spring semester and March 1 for both summer and annual programs.

Carolina also strives to make studying abroad financially affordable for as many students as possible. In addition to scholarship awarded by Carolina’s Study Abroad office, there also exist third-party funding opportunities to get to Europe and Russia. One important source for students of German is the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (German Academic Exchange Service). UNC-Chapel Hill regularly has an on-campus spokesperson who can help students find the right funding opportunity for studying in the Federal Republic of Germany. DAAD is publicly funded by the German government and is focused on providing students and faculty with the resources to study, conduct research, or intern in Germany. DAAD offers scholarships for fields ranging from STEM programs to the arts. Here are just some of the funding opportunities the DAAD offers undergraduates:

    • Undergraduate Scholarships: Scholarships for 4 to 10 months of study, thesis research or an internship for students in any academic field.
    • Study Scholarship: Scholarships for graduating Seniors to complete one academic year of study or a full graduate degree program in Germany.
    • RISE – Research Internships in Science and Engineering: Summer internships with German doctoral students at universities and research institutions – no German required!
    • University Summer Course Grant: Summer courses at German universities to help build your language skills while studying anything from film to politics to engineering.
    • German Studies Research Grant: Funding for research in the US or Germany in all areas of contemporary German Studies.
    • EMGIP – Bundestag Internship: Two months at the German parliament for students who are fluent in German.

If you have any questions about these programs or how to apply, don’t hesitate to contact the GSLL Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Study Abroad Destinations

Carolina’s Study Abroad Office offers an exceptionally broad portfolio of options for all kinds of students: first-year to seniors, humanities majors to science majors, language learners to English speakers. Costs vary depending on the type of program chosen. The five main types of study abroad programs include:

    • UNC Exchange Programs
    • Direct Enrollment Programs
    • Third-Party Programs
    • Faculty-Led Programs
    • Professional School Programs

The following map includes only the first three types of programs subdivided into three linguistic regions: Indo-Germanic Western and Central Europe as well as Scandinavia, Slavic Central and East Europe as well as Russia; and Indo-Uralic speaking Europe (Finland and Hungary). For an overview of GSLL’s study abroad opportunities, download this overview. For a comprehensive list of study abroad options, see the Study Abroad portal.