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Adriana Torres

About My Study Abroad Program

Major/Minor: Health Policy and Management & Medical Anthropology
Program: Freie Universität Berlin International Summer and Winter University
Location: Berlin, Germany
Term: Summer 2023


Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you select your program?
Growing up as a bilingual, I was able to see the power behind knowing another language. Coming into UNC I made the decision to learn a new language because I wanted to expand my network and horizons. And as a child of immigrants, it had become my lifelong dream to travel to Europe. Choosing a program was very easy for me because I had studied German for the past two years at UNC, so I intentionally searched for a program in Germany. I really wanted to practice my German and immerse myself in its culture. The FUBiS program had exactly what I wanted, a program in Germany, with German professors, and with other international students.


What did you learn about yourself?
Through this experience, I realized how strong my American roots are and how they have shaped me to be the person that I am. Of course there were some cultural differences being in Germany such as no A/C and no free drinking water. However, their different lifestyle, such as no work on Sundays made me realize how hard-working and dedicated I am. Their system allowed me to compare and analyze myself. This experience was very important to me because I was able to see myself grow out of my comfort zone with others. This experience made me realize how strong and adaptable I am and that I am willing to be vulnerable.


What is one of your favorite memories from your program?
One of my favorite memories from the program was waiting with my friends to have McDonalds for the Fourth of July in Germany. After facing uncertainties due to culture, my friends and I realized how important it was to have an American staple on such an important date. There were multiple moments in which we were tempted to have McDonalds the German way. However, we did not give in and waited until the Fourth of July. Being able to have something similar to home, while speaking about its differences was so rewarding.


What advice do you have for future study abroad students?
Yes, problems and uncertainties will occur whether you expect them or not. My biggest advice is to stay calm and rely on your friends, peers, and resources (anything that brings you peace). One of my biggest challenges was having service in the dorms. It was very difficult to communicate with my family back home and made me doubt whether Germany was a good place to be in. Despite this challenge, I used that time instead to bond with my friends and became more open to the German experience. My advice is to use the situation for your benefit, to grow and expand as a person, whether that means bonding with others or spending time alone.


How do you identify?
Student of color, First Generation College Student, Scholarship Recipient, Rural County Resident, $5,000 Summer Study Abroad Fellowship Recipient