Short Story II

After so many years, I have finally made it to the country I am intrigued by so much: I can currently call Atlanta, Georgia my home!

In May 2013 it started to dawn on me that after the summer I had to start writing my MA thesis and then I would be graduating. I felt so young and inexperienced and that mostly came becauseof the fact I had not really set foot in the USA for long. What kind of American Studies expert would I be without having lived or studied there? Therefore, I started to ask around for internship or study abroad options. Most of the exchangeprograms had already closed, because the application deadline is one year before the study abroad starts. Since I wanted to apply two months beforehand, I was afraid I had started a mission impossible. At last, when I almost decided to give up, a professor told me about the exchange program between Atlanta and Heidelberg, which also came with a monthly stipend. A friend of mine in Heidelberg was on that exchange, but then from the American side, so I would already have a contact in Atlanta. I did not hesitate for long and decided to take this opportunity, it was now or never! So, I filled in all the paperwork, applied for a visa and started to look for housing. And that is where it suddenly hit me: I was going to move to The South. Images of large trucks with Confederate flag banners, ultraconservative groups clinging onto their guns and religious rights and people speaking with marbles in their mouth came to mind. Is this where someone from a ‘socialist’ country with open laws about marijuana and abortion would feel home? However, then I realized that it might be very interesting to go to a place where things would not be the same as home. When I told family and friends about moving to Atlanta nobody really had an idea what the city was like, except for a few who mentioned Gone with the Wind and Sherman’s March to the Sea. But I liked having to discover the city for myself and no one telling me where to go and what not to miss. Atlanta became my terra incognita and it was up to me to fill in the blanks on the map.

And now, more than half a year later, I can say I have done a good job filling in the map! I said to myself that I had to make the most out of the year, not just academically but also personally. It is a great challenge to be in a big American city where most of the things are done by car and I do it by bike. I try to immerse myself as much as possible in the various ‘scenes’ of Atlanta instead of being a typical international student with only other international friends. I am even accepted to the program at Georgia State University, which means I will come back in Fall 2014! I am currently taking courses in Heritage Preservation, which fits perfectly with my American Studies background. I will finish my MA thesis for Heidelberg this summer and graduate ‘inabsentia’ and then continue the preservation program at GSU. I am happy I have had the chance to study in Heidelberg and now continue in Atlanta. I am very excited for the future and what adventures it may bring!

Short Story I

MA in American Studies at the University of Heidelberg, Germany

In the fall of 2012, I started my MA in American Studies at the University of Heidelberg, Germany. After three intense but interesting years of studying in Middelburg, I was ready for a bigger adventure. Heidelberg proves to be the perfect environment for that, it has a big student population and it is easy to meet new people, but it never feels overwhelmingly big or anonymous. It is funny that with a student population of around 20,000 people, I always see familiar faces when walking through the beautiful historic citycenter. Heidelberg really looks like a fairy tale town where time has stood still. The people here even call it the ‘Glasglocke’ concept, i.e. as if someone has put a bell jar on the city. At first I was afraid that it really would be like a village, but soon enough I have discovered there is so much to do here. Of course, there are many tourist restaurants and I have frequently made guest appearances on photos taken at some of Heidelberg’s highlights. But there is also a vibrant alternative scene. Almost every Saturday, my friends and I have several options for going out. Next to that, it is good to know that Mannheim and Frankfurt are around the corner.

My department, the Heidelberg Center for American Studies, is also centered in the ‘Altstadt.’ My Master is run on a small-scale, it has fifteen students from all over the world. Due to the small size, we have become a close group. I remember vividly that after the two month break in which we had to write papers, seeing my class again felt wonderful. Even though I am used to having a rigorous education, I still experience the workload here as quite intense. I have to read alot in order to participate in the discussions. I also feel challenged by the intellectual level of my classmates, and it also drives me to learn more. In February, I started an internship at the Heidelberger Kunstverein, which is an association for the promotion of modern art. I found it important to expand my interests and to see if perhaps working in the art or museum world would be something for me. I have helped with setting up the current exhibition and I am in charge of giving English guided tours through the exposition. I really enjoy working there, and I hopeto use the experience for my future career.

All in all, I think I can convincingly say that I feel very much at home in Heidelberg. Therefore, Iwould like to express my thanks to everybody from the RSC. Without their help, I would not have been here!

All in all, I think I can convincingly say that I feel very much at home in Heidelberg. Therefore, Iwould like to express my thanks to everybody from the RSC. Without their help, I would not have been here!