International Humans of Mizzou: Illinois native and German exchange student share their experiences studying abroad

The students explained the differences between college in their respective countries and where they went to study.

”International Humans of Mizzou” is a series that began last semester. In each edition, we sit down with international students who currently study at MU, from semester-exchange students to degree-seeking students.

This semester, we’ve expanded the series to include domestic students who have studied abroad in order to share their experience studying overseas.

Morganne Yambrovich Senior, Business Administration Hometown: Oak Park, IL Originally from Oak Park, Illinois, Yambrovich grew up eight blocks from the border of Chicago. She said the various study abroad opportunities offered in her high school and encouragement from her local community inspired her to study abroad.

“I have been thinking about studying abroad in France since I was 15. I did one study abroad in high school and my host family brought me to Paris for a weekend. I had already been taking French so I knew that I wanted to go to France so I could practice my French. I am really into learning languages. I love being able to relate to people in their mother tongue.

“I went to Ipag in Nice. It was a small university. There were only about 30 students in my grade. I took a lot of business classes. It was really easy, because of the way it was scheduled. Sometimes I won’t have classes two or three days in the week, some weeks I would have classes every day. It was all over the place. And the class was pass or fail. It probably wasn’t the best exchange because a lot of the credits didn’t get transferred.

“The hard part was since all of my classes were in English, the school was very segregated between the French students who went there and exchange students. All the exchange students have all the classes together and we had no classes with any French students. I had one class with two girls and that was because they forgot to do an internship abroad so they had to do their internship home with their exchange students.

“When I left to go to France, I was very mad at America politically. I just wanted to get out and leave. I kind of idealized France in my mind. I thought in France it would be more liberal, there wouldn’t be that many problems.

“But [it] turned out each country all had their own issues. And we are all more similar than we think, culturally. The attitude issues that exist in the states also exist in England [in the] kind of mean, anti-immigrant, anti-racism issues. I realized nowhere was perfect. And I was more okay with America. Because no matter where you go there will be problems. There are issues. It made me a lot more accepting of my own country which is good.

“I missed American diner food so much, like American breakfast. You would not believe how hard it is to find breakfast in many places in Europe. There was one Starbucks in Nice which was 20 minutes walk away but I would walk there when I felt homesick. The Starbucks there tasted the same as [the Starbucks in the states]. It was like my homesick meal.

“Everyone kept thinking study abroad is perfect. But it is not. I had a lot of problems with my roommates too, which made it harder. Sometimes I felt very alone. But I think that is just what happens, because you are not going to be friends with everyone. It is just like here, you might have bad roommates, but it is harder because you are in this new country alone. And they can make you feel more alone. But you have to try to make the best out of it. I definitely loved this experience and I miss it and think about it every day.”

Franziska Stadlmayer: Graduate student, journalism (exchange) Hometown: Munich, Germany Originally from Munich, Germany, Franziska currently studies journalism at the MU School of Journalism. She emphasizes on data and radio journalism. Prior to coming to MU, She completed two exchanges in France and Spain.

“I need one more internship before receiving my certification for my master’s degree. I am doing an additional year for academia. Last semester I went to Spain and this semester I am here.

“We have the system where you can do a double degree when there is a partnership program. In Germany, I went to this journalism school where everything we learned was very practical. We learned things from television, print to online news. Additionally, we get one year of graduate school, which was tough. You have no holidays and you work more on the theory side of journalism.

“From the language side, this is my easiest exchange, language-wise, so far because English is my second language. My third language is French and my fourth is Spanish. In France and Spain it was more difficult because I wasn’t fitting into the language that well. In France and Spain when we didn’t know about something we would use English. But here, English is the first language.

“We all struggled with the same problems in journalism, like lack of credibility and ‘fake news.’ There are populisms in Europe. The media change with the internet is still going on. I think the biggest difference between the states and Germany in journalism is spoken verse. We have a very strong protection about the spoken verse in Germany. You have to send the interview to the interviewees before publication and they have to say it is okay to publish. And normally they cut things out, they change things. You discuss with them for hours. It is not really a thing here. In Germany, they can change their mind last minute saying that they never said that. Here it is like you agree to it basically and I can publish that.

“I think [the press] is given more freedom here [in the states]. In Germany, the press has more restrictions under the law which normally have more side effects on the people you are interviewing or the outlets you work for.

“What I have learned from the exchange is [that] you can live everywhere. Wherever you live, you can find nice people. You can make new friends and learn about new perspectives. It doesn’t matter what city or what country you live in. I have lived in big cities like Paris and small cities like here in Columbia and Pamplona in Southern Spain. We are not as different as we think. I see differences between Germany and Spain or Germany and America. But it is just small things. Normal people think big, basic things quite the same. I think it is kind of encouraging for the world.

“I know people in every exchange who will stick so bad to their home countries, like I really miss my pasta sauce and my bread, but you always need to be open-minded because you can leave without your pasta for six months and [when you return] you will enjoy your pasta even more. And you can only see new perspectives of your own country when you are going out from it. I get a new perspective about Germany, about Europe from this exchange. For that alone, it was absolutely perfect.”

Edited by Emily Wolf | ewolf@themaneater.com

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