A Year Abroad: Germany and Korea

By Meredith Kertzman '13, Web Manager

As another year in Claremont is coming to a close, some Scripps students are finishing up the entire academic year they spent abroad. The Scripps Voice had the opportunity to talk with Katie Evans (’13) to learn more about her experience spending one semester in Germany and the other in Korea.

As a foreign language major studying two languages with fewer classes available, Evans was beginning to run out of options by her second semester of sopho- more year. “I knew if I really wanted to have a thorough knowledge of German and Korean, I would have to be abroad,” she said, “Since I’m studying German and Korean, it seemed obvious to go [to Germany and Korea], although I had options for cities when it came to Germany.”

For her first semester, Evans chose to go to Germany with the IES Freiburg program, which is not approved by Scripps. “I knew I wanted to be in southern Germany, but the description of the city and the program itself sold Freiburg to me over Munich and Heidelberg. I don’t regret it!” she said.

In Freiburg, Evans lived in university housing—similar to a suite at Scripps—with German students. She had the option of taking university courses but mostly took courses tailored to IES students.

For anyone interested in studying abroad in Germany, Evans advised, “If you’ve had more than two years of German and want to go abroad, [Freiburg] is the place to go. Don’t let the petition process scare you, it’s nothing!”

Evans is currently finishing up her spring semester in Seoul, Korea through CIEE. She lives in Yonsei University housing with other international students and is taking classes directly at the university.

The decision to go to Germany first was extremely simple for Evans. “I wanted to be in Germany for the holidays which, while celebrated in Asia, aren’t nearly as prominent as in Europe,” she explained.

Evans went home for a month in between her semesters abroad, which helped her transition between the two locations. She has been living away from home since 2006, when she started going to boarding school. “My parents have the opposite of empty nest syndrome; they love being home without me or my brother. I do feel a little bad, though, because one of the first things I ask about when we Skype is my cat,” she told us.

In her year abroad, Evans has noticed a huge improvement in her language skills. “Some people I studied with completely reinvented themselves over the semester, but that didn’t happen to me,” Evans explained. However, she did note that she is less willing to put up with inappropriate behavior—such as sexist jokes—from men.

When asked what she’ll miss from her year abroad, Evans said, “I’ll miss the transportation, the food, the shopping and how easy it was to travel.” Her location in Germany was less than an hour from both France and Switzerland. In November, Evans went to Switzerland for a day to go to a profressional tennis tourna- ment. “I ended up seeing my two favorite players, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. I caught laryngitis a few days later from overusing my vocal cords, but it was definitely worth it.”

“From Korea, I’ll miss the 24-hour convenience stores and the cafés where you can play with pets for hours,” Evans said. She also raved about the ice cream cakes in Korea. Evans will turn 21 shortly after the program ends, but she plans on buying an ice cream cake to celebrate before she leaves.

When asked if she misses Scripps, Evans responded, “Yes and no. I miss my friends, my extra-curriculars—A-Team and [in]visible magazine—the beautiful dorms, and the pasta at CMC. But like any other place or experience, there are downsides.” One of these downsides is the lack of transportation in and around Claremont.

Despite the downsides, Evans is happy to be returning. “I’m excited to be a senior and return to doing club activities and seeing people I’ve missed for over a year,” she said.

If you want to know more about her experiences, make sure you give her time to talk about them! “It’s nice when people want to know about what you’ve been doing, but it’s impossible to condense a year of life into 30 seconds of small talk,” Evans explained.