… eleven countries and six continents. Today we are taking up our popular series “Letters from ...” with a new group of students reporting on their experiences abroad.
Sep 24, 2019
From an island in the Indian Ocean to South America, the Middle East, Asia, Australia, and the USA: eleven students from Freie Universität Berlin, who are currently studying abroad, will continue the popular campus.leben series started four years ago, when students enchanted our readers with tales from Norway, Oman, and Mozambique – to name just three of the exciting locations. Here you can find out more about our new student reporters:
Elias Aguigah, Saint-Denis (La Réunion)
My name is Elias Aguigah and I am 20 years old. At Freie Universität I am in my fifth semester of social and cultural anthropology and political science. Since the middle of August, I have been in Réunion Island, where I am spending a semester as an ERASMUS exchange student. I am very happy to write about my semester abroad because that gives me a good opportunity to collect and think about my impressions. I am looking forward to sharing information about this unique island and life in a place that is part of Europe, but very far away.
Lilia Becker, St. Petersburg (Russia)
I am Lilia, 31 years old, a trained medical assistant and in my third semester of a master’s program in art history. Since the end of August, I have been in St. Petersburg through a direct exchange program of Freie Universität. I am here to broaden my background in art history and do research for my master’s thesis on reprisals against artists during Stalinism. I hope that my letters will contribute to giving others a more complex impression of Russia and to encourage other students to spend a semester abroad here.
Vivi Feng, Shanghai (China)
My name is Vivi Feng. I am 18 years old and have just finished the 4th semester of my biochemistry studies. I will be staying at Fudan University in Shanghai until July 2020 through a direct exchange progam at Freie Universität. I am here, not only to improve my Chinese language skills, but also to finally get to know China, my second home and my parents’ country of origin. I am looking forward to sharing my experiences in this exciting city and, in particular, to describe things from the point of view of a person with a bicultural background.
Marie Funke, Hong Kong (Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China)
My name is Marie, I am 21 years old, and in my fifth semester in a degree program in political science at Freie Universität. I will be spending the year at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in the Asian megacity of Hong Kong. I’m looking forward to studying in this diverse place full of contrasts. And I am looking forward to all the new perspectives that I expect to gain here, especially in light of the current situation of the city. In addition to my daily routine of Chinese language courses, spicy canteen meals, and tropical insects, I plan to get to know as much as possible of Hong Kong and China.
Jennifer Gaschler, Sydney (Australia)
My name is Jennifer Gaschler, I am 28 years old, and in a master’s program in theater studies at Freie Universität. I am spending my third semester “down under,” where I am doing research for my master’s thesis on “Nationalism, Migration, and Identity in Contemporary Australian Theater.” I am looking forward to diving headfirst into multicultural Sydney, and I plan to use my free time for actual diving trips to the beautiful East Coast.
Ben Heiden, Birmingham (United Kingdom)
The European flagship program Erasmus+ might set its sails toward Great Britain for the last time this year. And I get to be on board: Hi, my name is Ben. After a stressful couple of weeks finishing up my exams, I have completed my second semester in the economics bachelor’s program at Freie Universität. Now, I can look forward to my year abroad in Birmingham. As a Berlin native, I have never been away from the banks of the Spree for more than three weeks at a time in my 22 years, so I imagine it will be an exciting but also challenging experience trying to settle into another city and culture.
Julian Jestadt, Jerusalem (Israel)
My name is Julian, and I am 24 years old. In October, I’m going to Hebrew University of Jerusalem. I will continue to work on my master’s degree in philosophy while I am there for the semester. As a German, I feel that I have a responsibility to get to know Israel and the people there better and to find out more about the conflicts going on in the country. Jerusalem is the best place to do just that. During my time abroad, I want to immerse myself in the religious, political, and historical complexity of the city. I will share my experiences in writing and photographs.
Sonja Poschenrieder, Ljubljana (Slovenia)
Today, world travel is accessible to us at a young age: A 9th-grade trip to the United States; after the Abitur, Australia – but then what? Back to my roots! My grandpa was from Hinterschweinhöf in Austria. I am originally from the Allgäu region in Swabia (southern Germany). And my grandma? She’s from the former Yugoslavia. That’s what brought me to Ljubljana. I am 22 years old and in my fourth semester of the psychology degree program in Berlin. Slovenia is quite a change of scenery: mountains, the Soča River, the Mediterranean Sea, and really close to other eastern European countries. “Živijo” means “hello.” “Metelkova” is an alternative cultural center. I’ll figure out the rest while I’m there. It’s not my first time traveling alone.
Davia Rosenbaum, Cayenne (French Guiana)
I have been in French Guiana for three weeks now – and I still don’t really know what my year here is going to bring. But there is something exciting about not knowing. My name is Davia, and I am in my fifth semester at Freie Universität, working on a degree in “Language and Society” and political science. I came to Cayenne through the Erasmus exchange, so I actually know some people here already. French Guiana is not well known – I hope my letters inspire other students to find out more about Overseas France.
Elena Schulz-Ruhtenberg, Tallinn (Estonia)
There are an incredible number of extraordinary cities in Europe, and many of these “hidden champions” are right next door to us. That’s why I’m looking forward to reporting on my semester at Tallinn University. I am 20 years old and in my fifth semester of the political science program at Freie Universität Berlin. I have been in Tallinn since the end of August. Estonia is a perfect place to study political science. Political upheaval and a unique history of recovery are part of the country’s DNA. In my reporting, I want to focus on Estonia’s diverse cultural scene and its pioneering role in the world of digital technology.
Madeline Thomas, Nashville (USA)
My name is Madeline Thomas, and I am 23 years old. I am an English major at Freie Universität Berlin and am spending the third semester of my master’s degree program in the English Department at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. It is part of Freie Universität’s direct exchange with the graduate program there. Nashville is home to country music, hot weather, and very nice people! I am excited to share a few glimpses into my life as a student at this rather small private university in the southern United States.