Tales from Abroad: Leipzig Sep20

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Tales from Abroad: Leipzig

Summer 2016: Kylie Wilson

With a father in the Air Force, I grew up with a world map on our dinner table. Every night, Dad would quiz my siblings and I on far off cities and countries. We’d have a mad dash to move bowls of food and be the first one to find the obscure place he named. However, it wasn’t until college that I had the opportunity to visit international places – Budapest, Hungary; London, England; Berlin, Germany… the list goes on. When I heard about study abroad at ACU, I was both elated and discouraged. While I desperately wanted to participate in one of the programs, I was sure that my biochemistry, pre-med schedule would never allow a semester off. Luckily, I found a middle-ground: ACU sponsors a pre-health summer study abroad every two years. It gave me both class credit and a chance to see parts of the world I had only dreamed about. It seemed perfect.

I was in Europe a total of eight weeks; simultaneously, they seemed to go by so quickly and yet so slowly. We were based out of Leipzig, Germany, but many weekends were spent traveling: during those two months, I traveled to seven different countries and countless cities. Each weekend was a new region or country. For some reason, many of my favorite memories centUntitleder around the different meals we ate. No stew will ever rival the goulash we had the first night in Budapest; if I ever travel back to London, bangers and mash is a definite must at Mother Mash in Oxford Circus. Even the odd plates (for example, raw meat in the Netherlands, or beef drowning in a brown sauce in the Czech Republic) still easily bring back the memories. While the cathedrals and architecture seemed to run together after a while, the cuisine in each respective region seemed to embody some of the unique spirit there.

While traveling in Europe is easier than in the US, there is much more to planning than I realized. Especially in a large group, it is easy to accidentally deviate from the plan and become discouraged. Our responses to circumstances – both those we can control and those we can’t – show our true merits and vices. For me, it was hard to accept that most things do not go perfectly according to plan. God seems to have a sense of humor; He knows where we need to grow and as we pray for guidance, He provides plenty of opportunities. I messed up those opportunities as often as I succeeded, and those experiences have provided me a chance for understanding that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. It is true: living in a different culture stretches people more than they realize. And for me, that stretching has been both unsettling and exciting.

 

When not traveling, we spent the weekdays in Leipzig. A city in former East Germany, Leipzig has a rich history of scholarship and political protest. Coming back from various travels every Sunday seemed like I was coming home. As a pre-med student, I had the opportunity to shadow different physicians in both hospital and office settings; the healthcare providers could not have been any more welcoming to a group of American students. They not only explained the German healthcare system, but they also taught us practical medical knowledge. From cutting edge robotic developments to ultrasounds and vascular bypasses, they welcomed us with open arms.

This study abroad experience – the good, the bad, and the in-between – would not have been possible without a couple key players. Our professors, the Drs. Austin and the Drs. Powell, helped guide us in both our physical and educational journeys, as well as our friendships. Many thanks to the Honors college for their grant, for without them I wouldn’t have been able to go. And finally, I have so much gratitude to the people of Leipzig, who welcomed a group of loud, English-speaking Americans to their city for several weeks. Tschüss!