Fulbright Academic Grant, 2013–2014
At first, I’d chosen to go to Germany mainly to establish international contacts within a country having a strong scientific presence in physical chemistry. But even though I have accomplished that, the most important thing I’ve taken away—please bear with me here—is personal growth.
Admittedly, the first months were hard. I didn’t know any German when I first came. There were also many bureaucratic matters, settled with hand gestures and dubious translation. Most of all, though, I am a quiet person. I admired but had difficulty adapting to German culture, where individuals tend to be more honest and straightforward about even negative opinions. However, as I learned more German and tried communicating to people on a day to day basis, I discovered ways to say things more simply and clearly. (In German, for instance, you can convey an entirely new idea by putting multiple words together, and I was trying to apply a similar idea to English.) I’m still not that talkative, but at the very least I’ve found myself a bit more articulate and less afraid to say something contrary. I honestly don’t think that I would have developed in this manner if I hadn’t come to Germany.
All in all, I am very glad I came to study here. I’ve made friends, enjoyed the pervasive public transportation, and finally truly realized just how important knowing foreign languages is for accessing the world around us.