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Mentor Profile

Bio

mentor picture Priscilla
 
Priscilla
Graduate Student
University of California at Berkeley
I am a native of Chicago, but both my parents are West Indian immigrants who came to the U.S. in the Seventies. In 2003, I graduated from the University of Chicago with a B.A. in Comparative Literature. I decided to go to Germany... I am a native of Chicago, but both my parents are West Indian immigrants who came to the U.S. in the Seventies. In 2003, I graduated from the University of Chicago with a B.A. in Comparative Literature. I decided to go to Germany in my junior year of college, because I had been learning German since junior high, but I never really had the opportunity or the money to go there. The summer of my junior year, in 2001, I received a Foreign Language Acquisition Grant (FLAG) and I went to Düsseldorf, Germany to take part in an 8 week-long intensive language program at the Goethe Institute. Being in Germany and having the opportunity to speak the language every day made my German improve much faster than it would have in a language class in the U.S. The wonderful experiences I had that summer just made me want to stay longer and learn even more about the culture. That fall, I went to Berlin, where I took part in a year-long exchange program at Free University led by the Berlin Consortium for German Studies. After graduating from the University of Chicago in 2003, I received a Fulbright grant and returned to Germany, where I worked as a foreign language teaching assistant in Berlin for one year. I then worked as an intern for two months at the Deutsche Well in Bonn, where I translated transcripts for the radio from German into English. After my internship I returned to Berlin, because I had received a grant from the Berlin Parliament to conduct research for a year. Now I am a second-year graduate student in the German Department at the University of California at Berkeley. My research interests range from Weimar Germany, East German studies, migrant studies, youth cultures and music to film. The FLAG I received five years ago definitely helped me get where I am today. That grant made it possible for me to not only improve my German, but to gain my first impression of the country. The experiences I had that summer in Düsseldorf helped me decide that German studies is the right academic field and career path for me.

Responses

  1. It is most helpful to reflect on your major and which country would be most appropriate based on that. I was studying German literature and language when I decided to go abroad, so I could have chosen Germany, Austria or Switzerland. I decided to go to Germany, because I was intrigued by the history and the culture of Berlin, its capital city. The most important thing to keep in mind is that while some destinations may be more attractive or popular than others, it is best to contemplate what kind of opportunities are available to you in different countries and how they can help to advance your studies. In the end, no matter where you decide to study abroad, it will definitely be an irreplaceable experience.
    8 answers – Deciding On A Program
  2. Most universities have an individual kind of financial aid available for students who wish to go abroad. For example, the University of Chicago offers a FLAG (Foreign Language Acquisition Grant), while the University of California, Berkeley offers the FLAS (Foreign Language Acquisition Scholarship). There are also grants offered by the US government, such as the Fulbright. There may also be grants offered by the country itself. For example, the German government, as well as various German institutions and universities provide a variety of grants. Be sure to look at all of your options before you decide which grant is most appropriate for you.
    3 answers – How to pay
  3. If your university has a study abroad office, you can start there. Otherwise it is always a good idea to see whether the country has an embassy or consulate in the US. If so, you could take a look at their website, which usually offers useful information.
    3 answers – Deciding On A Program
  4. It depends on the individual student. If you have never spent much time away from home or outside of the country and you feel like you need more support, a host family would probably be the best option. Staying with a host family is a great way to be introduced to the country’s culture and if you are learning the local language, just speaking with your host family can be quite helpful. For those students who would like a little more independence, but still need some structure, a dormitory would be a good option. If, however, you need a lot more independence, living on your own would be best. But I would definitely recommend living with a roommate, because living completely on your own in a foreign country can sometimes be lonely and may make you feel a bit disconnected.
    3 answers – Housing
  5. It depends on where you go. I studied abroad in Germany, where the health insurance for students was actually very affordable. It was also great coverage. Thus, although I was covered under my mother’s health insurance in the U.S., I still decided to get additional coverage in Germany as well. Having German health insurance made routine visits to the doctor and dentist a lot less stressful because I did not have to deal with any reimbursement issues with my American health provider. But keep in mind; it is best to make sure that you have some coverage before you travel. Even if it is travel insurance with health insurance included. It is always better to be over- insured rather than under-insured.
    3 answers – Health
  6. I am currently a second-year graduate student in the German Department at the University of California, Berkeley. The three years I spent in Germany definitely influenced my decision to go to graduate school and to focus on German language and literature. While living in Germany, I connected to the culture and the people and I did not want to lose this connection. This fall I am teaching German 1 for the first time at the university and seeing my students get excited about learning German has proven to be a very rewarding part of my experience at graduate school. It is a wonderful thing to be able to share my love for German Studies with others.
    7 answers – Career
  7. One of my major concerns as a person of color was to travel somewhere, where I could be sure that there was not too much racial tension and if I was to run into any problems, there would be someone available for support. I have had a few encounters with racism and I believe it is important for students to be aware of any problems with discrimination so that they can prepare themselves and consider the best way of dealing with it. Of course you should be careful not to frighten students. After all, whether in the U.S. or abroad one may always run into racism, sexism and other kinds of discrimination. But a student should be knowledgeable of where they are going, including the political situation of the area, before they decide where they would like to study abroad.
    9 answers – For African Americans – For Asian/ Pacific Americans – For Hispanic/ Latin@ – For Native Americans
  8. Parents who are worried they may not be able to afford their child's time abroad should definitely look into the different kinds of travel grants and funding available for students. In the end, one could always take out a small loan. If parents are worried about their children having financial difficulty abroad, perhaps they should look into a location that is a bit more affordable. In every country, there may be cities that are less expensive or offer a less expensive language program than others. Parents should also look into affordable housing options. Staying with a family, sharing a place with roommates and living in a dormitory can all be quite effective when one is trying to save money.
    6 answers – Budgeting – How to pay
  9. A good way to reach underrepresented students is to use on campus informational events about studying abroad. For example you could encourage students of various backgrounds who have already studied abroad to attend such events so that they can relate their stories and offer advice to any students of color who may feel apprehensive about studying abroad.
    5 answers – For African Americans – For Asian/ Pacific Americans – For Hispanic/ Latin@ – For Native Americans
  10. I realized I wanted to study abroad during my second year of college. Luckily, it was not too late to apply and I was able to spend my third year abroad. There were many people at my college who were available to answer any questions I had about programs, financial aid and any other concerns I may have had. This definitely made a world of difference. If it were not for the support I received from the staff at my university, I may have remained convinced that I could never afford to study abroad. Things worked out well for me because I was able to get a travel grant to study intensive German during the summer, as well as take out enough of a loan to support me during my year abroad.
    6 answers – Personal
  11. Si tu universidad tiene una oficina de estudio en el extranjero (Study Abroad) y sabes que tienen un programa en el lugar adonde quieres ir, ve y habla con ellos. Si no consigues información en la oficina y/o si no tienen intercambios/programas en tu lugar de elección, puedes ir a la embajada o consulado más cercano de ese país en los Estados Unidos y sacar información ahí. La mayoría de los consulados tienen sitio de Web y contiene amplia información sobre el lugar que quisieras visitar.
    2 respuestas – Decidiéndose por un programa – Preocupaciones: antes de salir
  12. Depende del estudiante. Si él/ella no ha pasado mucho tiempo fuera de la casa de su propia familia o del país y piensa que va a querer el apoyo que le puede dar una familia anfitriona, puede ser esa la mejor opción. Vivir con una familia anfitriona es una buena manera de conocer la cultura del país y si estás allí para aprender el idioma del país, hablándolo diariamente con la familia puede ser ideal. Para los estudiantes que tal vez quieran un poco más de independencia, pero tampoco desean buscar un lugar en donde vivir, un dormitorio puede ser una buena opción. Si deseas todavía más independencia, vivir solo(a) es una buena opción. En fin, dondequiera que vivas, procura estar con un compañero(a), porque vivir solo en un país que no conoces puede hacerte sentir un poco “desconectado.”
    3 respuestas – Alojamiento
  13. Depende a donde vas a ir. Yo estudié en Alemania y puedes comprar un seguro medico internacional para Alemania. En muchos casos, tu seguro actual no te proporcionará la protección adecuada. Así que, aunque estaba cubierta por el seguro de mi madre en los Estados Unidos, decidí obtener cobertura adicional para Alemania también. Tener cobertura adecuada para Alemania ayudaba a que las visitas al doctor y al dentista fueran menos estresantes porque no necesitaba preocuparme de posibles reembolsos con mi seguro de salud americano. Pero debes acordarte de algo: siempre es mejor obtener una póliza oficial de cobertura médica internacional para estudiantes (de programas escolares en el extranjero) antes de salir de los Estados Unidos aunque en la matrícula y los costos del programa estén incluidos. Más vale tener una póliza que cubra todos los riesgos que conllevan los viajes al exterior para que disfrutes sin preocupaciones.
    2 respuestas – Salud
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