Throughout the spring and summer of 2015, I was living in Germany through Stanford’s study abroad program. In those six months, I was able to immerse myself in German culture, practice the language, and gain a new sense of confidence and independence.
I spent Spring Quarter in Berlin, living in a homestay with a lovely German woman in the exciting neighborhood of Kreuzberg. Every day, I would take the subway across the city to class at Stanford’s abroad campus. Unlike many other universities, Stanford does not do an exchange program with another university. Instead, students continue to take Stanford classes with Stanford professors, just in Berlin. Though, once classes were over, the city was my playground. Berlin is a bustling city, full of parks, restaurants, museums, festivals, clubs, and more. Plus, Berlin is at the very heart of Europe where dozens of other countries are just a bus or train ride away. This freedom of movement provided a much appreciated contrast to the dreaded “Stanford bubble” and most of the students took advantage of it. My fellow students and I spent almost every other weekend traveling to some new corner of Europe.
By the end of the internship, I honestly didn’t want to leave. I had found such a beautiful balance of work and relaxation not easily found at Stanford. I developed a confidence that will carry me wherever in the world I will end up. It is truly an experience that I will cherish and remember.
Now, if you too plan on going abroad, be sure to plan ahead. As an engineer, there may be an overwhelming number of requirements, but with careful planning, it can be done. I encourage any student interested to carefully research the different abroad programs available, be aware of language requirements and deadlines, and plan your schedule accordingly. I promise you will not regret it.
I became an engineer to build things. I wanted to create new products that helped solve problems. As an electrical engineer, I have been able to build things from bluetooth speakers, AC-DC converters, battery chargers, and more. And even though the labs can be frustrating at times, that a-ha moment when it all works is the best feeling in the world.
Cynthia was born in Caracas, Venezuela, but moved to the United States as a child. Now she is studying Electrical Engineering at Stanford but always tries to find time for traveling and tinkering.