Why American Studies in Germany?

These are some of the most common questions I’m asked, particularly why I’m studying American Studies in Germany!

Q: Why did you move to Germany?

I moved to Heidelberg, Germany to pursue my MA in American Studies, with a specific focus on US-German and US-EU relations. The program is through the Heidelberg University

Q: Why Heidelberg? How long is your program?

I chose Heidelberg because of the university’s reputation in the international community. It is one of the 50 best universities in the entire world. Furthermore the university is ranked within Germany as one of the top 3 universities. Having been founded in 1386, it is the oldest university in Germany and the 3rd oldest university in the Holy Roman Empire.

Former students include:

  • 55 Nobel Laureates
  • Helmut Kohl – former Chancellor of Germany
  • Karl Jaspers – philosopher
  • Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel – philosopher
  • William Backhouse Astor, Sr. – businessman
  • George Bancroft – founded the US Naval Academy
  • …and the list continues

My program is 3 semesters long. I spend the first 2 semesters taking classes and the last semester I spend writing my thesis!

Q: Why would you study American Studies in Germany?

Honestly, this is probably the most common question I receive. Yes, it doesn’t make sense initially to study “American Studies” in another country. However, I want to work in international relations and I feel that it is important for me to receive a well-rounded, dynamic viewpoint of the United States, especially if I want to focus on the USA’s relationship with Germany and other European Union countries!

Q: What kind of classes are you taking?

I take 6 academic classes along with Introduction to American Studies, an Interdisciplinary Seminar, Colloquium, and Academic Writing. I choose 3 academic subjects to “specialize” in during the course of the program.

Q: What does your academic schedule look like? Why do you have such weird breaks?

My classes each meet once a week for 2 hours. I meet for an additional 2 hours for the 3 subjects I decide to specialize in during the course of my program.

The semester schedule is much different in Germany than in the USA. Semesters are October-February and April-July with an equal break between both semesters.

American Studies in Germany via Wayfaring With WagnerQ: How did you hear about this program?

This is a perfect example of fate intervening in life! This past spring I was really struggling/debating what I wanted to do in the next couple of years. I took an LSAT practice course but my heart wasn’t set on pursuing law school. Additionally I love reading, debating, and learning! The day after Spring Break (March 21st) I had to turn in my midterm for my political science class in the history department. The class was cross-listed and the professor worked in the History Department. As I was turning in my paper, I spotted a sign outside a professor’s office advertising this program. Ironically the professor who was advertising this program was a professor whose class I really wanted to take but couldn’t fit it into my schedule. I immediately emailed her and we set up an appointment. After talking with her, I KNEW I had to do this program. I called my parents and told them that this program was “meant to be.”

However, I had a minor issue. The application was due April 1st and I didn’t start applying until March 23rd! Luckily, I had an up-to-date resume and found 2 amazing individuals to write me a letter of recommendation in a super short amount of time. My Big in my sorority, Kathryn, and my little sister, Loren, both spent lots of time editing, re-editing, etc. my personal statement. Ironically, the day that I found out I was accepted into the program (and received a full-tuition scholarship!) was the day that my final in my political science was due. Talk about going full circle!

So, that’s how I ended up in Heidelberg, Germany! After this Master’s Program I’m thinking of pursuing a PhD in Political Science (and eventually becoming a college professor) but I’m open to any opportunities that might come my way in the next 18 months!

Q: How long do you plan on staying in Europe? Do you think you’ll come back to the USA?

As of right now, I’ll be in Europe until Summer 2015. After finishing my thesis in February 2015, I’ll be moving to Croatia for 3 months to intern at the US Embassy in Zagreb. I’m hoping to also intern for the US State Department in Summer 2015. My goal is to complete my PhD in Political Science at a university in Berlin (an additional 3 years). However, I might not be able to start that until September 2016 due to timing issues/deadlines.

Ahhh, the never-ending question on when I plan to return to the USA. I absolutely love traveling and find that suitcase life perfect for me at this stage in my life. I have no outside commitments and really don’t feel ready to settle down yet. I plan to keep traveling for as long as possible. I know I’ll eventually get a yearning to return to the USA, but why rush it? And who knows, maybe I’ll find a European man, fall in love, and never return. Carpe Diem!

Additional questions? Feel free to leave a comment or write me an email at jordanbeckwagner@gmail.com

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    • Hi Sharlie! What a cute blog you have! The quality of the German university system is pretty much the same as the USA university system (I see you’re from Canada and I’m sure it is about equivalent as well!). I go to the University of Heidelberg which is really well-known internationally…so the reputation and academics are top-notch. I actually find the level of difficulty less than a USA university because of how the semesters and weekly classes are set up. Having said that, I don’t think the academic level is any less. Email me at jordanbeckwagner@gmail.com and I’ll write you back a longer response! I’d love to help you any way I can :)

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