My International Experience: Final Edition


Photo courtesy of Klaudia Rixmann

My experience living in Reutlingen, Germany had such a profound impact on the way I view the world. Seeing that students across the Atlantic ocean struggle with the same worries about grades, workload, opportunities, and their future allowed me to relax, in a sense. All the worries and work we put into school are simply unavoidable, but someday, it’ll all pay off.

Additionally, I developed a greater appreciation for my own school and the opportunities it provides me. Where else can students pursue their love of art while completing coursework? Where else can we learn about multiple subjects in the same class, pulling together all the ideas in inspiring projects and performances? Where else do students actually love to learn?

In Germany, I remember becoming increasingly frustrated and bored in one class that was taught by one of the most traditional teachers I had. I felt I had been sitting too long; the teacher was merely spouting the lesson to us; I couldn’t eat a snack and sit in a more comfortable position. When the teacher finally finished to give us the last ten minutes for work time, I decided to talk with him about my school. Perhaps he’d get inspired and change his ways.

I sat down by his desk and told him about what it felt like in classes at KM Perform, how the teachers taught, how snacks were okay, and how students could leave rooms to collaborate with others. I remember his expression looking as if I told him about a newly discovered planet and race of aliens. It took him a few minutes before he could ask me any questions.

“And the students don’t get out of hand? They do their work?”

“Yes, actually. We respect our teachers and our teachers respect us. Students do their work because they love to learn.”

At the words “love to learn,” I thought the teacher went into shock. He explained to me that he didn’t think it was possible for students to love learning, that’d it’d always be a chore to them. I replied saying that when students are given creative freedom, amazing things can happen. He asked for the name of my school, and if I could write it down for him. I wrote down in big, proud letters: Kettle Moraine School for Arts and Performance.

What I learned from that conversation is that I was not the only one being exposed to new ideas – so were the people around me. Through me, they got in touch with a different culture and attitude, and different way of learning.

Not only do I believe that studying abroad opens the mind of the individual traveling, but also the minds of the people that person connects with. I cannot stress enough the positive effect studying in Germany had in my life. If a student ever gets the opportunity to learn in a different country or at least vacation in one, they should seize it with excitement and make the most of it.