by Julius Ott, International Law LL.M. student
Entering the journey of a year in an unknown country was quite a leap in the dark. The excitement of exploring a new culture was at first exhilarating, but as my flight date crept closer the anxiety of uncertainty became greater and greater. What would it be like to study in a foreign language? Was my English good enough to follow in class? What would the other students be like? Would I be able to integrate myself? How would the American culture influence me? What would it be like to experience the US election? And so on...
On my first day at Stetson I affirmed that my fears were not justified. I was greeted warm-heartedly by the employees of the International Office in a manner that only Americans know how to do. Soon I met my fellow exchange students and could assure myself that we shared the same anxieties concerning the exchange program and country. This made all of us bond very fast and helped us along the journey.
Within the first couple weeks of class my English improved rapidly—the fear of not being able to follow in class turned out to be absolutely unjustified. All the professors were very fond of us international students and we were able to not only integrate ourselves, but also represent our views in every manner we saw fit. I was also able to improve my English and increase my knowledge concerning the American legal system. The study atmosphere created in class was far less tense than what I had experienced within my studies in Germany. It seemed to me that every American is very welcoming, easygoing and patient.
Of course the exchange program wasn’t limited to only academic activities. Although the program is very demanding, especially the preparation and reading for class, there was free time that I enjoyed spending at the beach. I started playing volleyball with my new friends and soon it became a regular joint activity. We spent evenings at O’Maddy’s, and soon we were affiliated regulars.
Furthermore, I was able to travel to many other cities within Florida and the US, like Miami, St. Augustine, Washington, D.C., Boston, New York, L.A., and San Francisco, just to name a few. I was even able to go Skiing in Canada, a dream come true for me. After my time at Stetson I’m planning to travel within the Americas further, including Peru, Cuba, South Carolina, Kentucky, and Illinois.
Reflecting on my past year, I can say that my leap in the dark was definitely not as big of a leap as it seemed at first. I was able to grow in an academic manner as well as personal. Now I am ready for further travels and can’t wait to be back in Germany with my family and friends to share my amazing experiences with them. Although I didn’t grow too fond of the American cuisine, I will sure miss the Mexican food that is vastly available within Florida.
Topics: Insider, International Law