Luisa Walter, from Germany, studies at Northwest College in Wyoming
Luisa Walter, 20, has lived in the United States since August 2015. She was born and raised in Limbach-Oberfrohna, a town in East Germany. She is a participant of the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals (CBYX), a fellowship that brought her to Wyoming. A part-time student at Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming, Luisa Walter has worked and studied as a graphic designer in Germany. She now works as a young ambassador for CBYX. Her assignment is to foster the cultural exchange between Germany and the United States. Luisa Walter is one of 75 German fellows who live in the U.S. for one year, while 75 Americans have the same opportunity in Germany.
Marc Lamberger, 24, from Munich, worked and studied at Northwest College for one year and he also participated in the same fellowship. Together they had an interview about different forms of education, a new experience, cultural shocks, opportunities and challenges when you move back to your home country.
Marc: Luisa, you have lived in northern Wyoming for three months. Do you already own a pair of cowboy boots and a cowboy hat?
Luisa: In the first week after I arrived in Wyoming I bought my first cowboy hat. It was also the first time I had seen a rodeo show in Cody, Wyoming–the rodeo capital of the world. It was a lot of fun! I don’t have cowboy boots yet, but it’s definitely on my shopping list.
Marc: What was the toughest thing for you after you left Germany? Did you have a culture shock in Wyoming?
Luisa: I'm not sure if I can say anything specific that was hard for me. Of course, I have had ups and downs. In September, I had the flu for five days. It was really depressing because in those times you miss your family and the people at home who care about you the most. Sometimes I struggle with the food. [laughs]
Marc: In Germany, you had an apprenticeship in graphic design. Now, you are studying graphic design in the United States of America. Can you explain the difference of education?
Luisa: For my first semester at Northwest College, I decided to concentrate more on the fine arts. I wanted to improve my skills in this field because I am not yet sure which specific creative arts I would like to work in the future. Nevertheless, I have two jobs on campus where I can work as graphic designer, and I think I’m doing my job well so far. I am gaining some graphic design experience at the Northwest Trail, our student newspaper, as well. The newspaper is sometimes challenging, because newspaper design is much different than work I’ve done before. However, it is still fun to work with the other students for one project.
Marc: What new things have you learned?
Luisa: I am taking one class called “Art Portfolio.” In this course we learn how to contribute to the labor market as a designer. This is one of the most important classes that I am taking because it is teaching me how to be confident with my own artwork, which is leading me to grow as an artist. Also, I have already noticed personal growth within myself. I already feel more confident. I also think American optimism is influencing my personality. Which is definitely a good thing!
Marc: Do you enjoy studying in the U.S. and living in the dormitories?
Luisa: I am enjoying studying. I always enjoyed studying at school in Germany and one of my plans for the future was to go to an art and design university back home and push myself forward. I was always an ‘A’ student at school, but the first test here was a disaster. The language is still challenging! However, I am trying hard to push myself, practice and do my best at classes. I must always keep in my mind that this year is an experience.
Marc: How important is such an exchange for young adults?
Luisa: For me as an artist and graphic designer, this year could definitely change my job prospects in Germany and my opportunities when I apply for universities. Gaining experience in another country is something that will always be respected and even if it doesn’t change my career opportunities in a significant way, I will never regret this year. One of my most important goals for me this year is personal growth. That alone is a huge advantage. What do you think about that?
Marc: I totally agree. When I came to the United States, I was very ambitious. Now I would say: I was too ambitious, almost infatuated with some of my goals. It was a huge step for me in calming down, enjoying life and hanging out with friends. Life is not just about studying and working hard, it's also about having fun. Americans are really good with both of those, but studying abroad was definitely a door opener for my future in Germany.
Luisa: In which way?
Marc: It opened doors with journalism and with coaching soccer. I'm grateful for my journalism instructor, Rob Breeding, and Rob Hill, the head soccer coach for Northwest College, for the opportunities that they gave me at Northwest College. I still work with media while also taking online courses next in sports management. I also have the opportunity to coach young goalkeepers at a soccer school for a professional club. Being on the pitch and in the classroom every day has paid off. I wouldn't have so many great new jobs and opportunities without studying and working in the United States. It was important to me to start new projects when I return to Germany, to use the American experience and help other people to grow.
Luisa: You're back in Germany as of three months. Are you happy to be home or do you miss the United States?
Marc: A little bit of both! I'm definitely happy to see my family and friends, but many things have changed in one year. I was very lucky to have made so many friends in the United States in Wyoming, Montana, Utah, California and Oregon. I am currently focusing on my assignments in Germany, but it is my big goal to come back to the United States in a few years – at least for holidays. But, why not for a longer period of time? Hopefully I get lucky with the ‘Green Card Lottery.’
Are you interested in studying for a year in Germany? CBYX offers this possibility to 75 people from the United States every year. The scholarship is for people who are between 18 and 24-years-old and have a high school diploma or equivalent. They also should have completed general coursework in a targeted internship field. Previous knowledge of the German language is preferred, but is not required. All participants of CBYX learn at a German language school in the first two months in Germany. More information at www.cbyx.info.
Student blogger Marc with Zoe Glasser Breeding of Montana, who studies at the University of Heidelberg. Zoe is an American participant of CBYX.
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