I sing the praises of the Hessen Exchange Program almost every day. It has been such a turning point in my life that I want everyone to have the same opportunity. You may ask,“What is Hessen?” Hessen is a state in Germany, but it is also more than that: it is a place where a student can spend an affordable few weeks to a month not only learning German, but becoming a part of German culture in the west-central part of Germany. Hessen is where a student can cross the line the Berlin wall once created and see layers of history, ranging from hundreds of years ago to the recently embraced and celebrated. The Hessen short term study programs encompass the cities of Kassel, Fulda, Darmstadt, Frankfurt, Giessen, and Marburg, allowing for an abundance of choices of where to spend the summer. The available classes offer a range of topics, including engineering, health, culture and society, international business, European banking, European studies, and green energy. There is something for everyone. The Hessen exchange program is also a great way to take general education classes in a fun environment and usually include excursions as well.
As an English major, I chose to study in Kassel in the Cultural Module. Other students chose different focuses, such as Erik Solis, who studied European Law in Frankfurt, or Israa El Saudi, who took a course on culture and society in Fulda. “I traveled to Berlin expecting to see a small closed city similar to Fulda. However, what I saw was a huge city, similar to Boston, filled with vibrant colors and busy streets,” El Saudi wrote in her Jan. 20, 2020 blog post. “The people I was surrounded by were what created the memories I had there,” Solis reflects in his Aug. 9, 2019 blog post.
The experiences we all had will remain with us forever. Summer session is arriving soon, and applications are due March 15, 2020. It is the opportunity of a lifetime. Hessen is affordable with the summer session only costing $1200, including tuition, housing and excursions. I am so grateful I decided to study in Kassel. It is convenient for those of us who do not have the time to spend a full semester studying abroad. I was a full-time student who also worked 40 hours a week and had a 16 year old daughter. I made it work; I identified the hills one by one, and climbed over them.
Financing the summer semester abroad need not be a problem due to funding opportunities. Surprisingly, the summer semester is partially covered using the Pell grant because it is at least six credits. There is also the Benjamin Gilman Scholarship and Beacon Student Success Fellowship Scholarship available for students to apply to. The memories made while in Hessen will always be with me, leaving a taste of travel rooted in my taste buds. It is a great opportunity to travel to other parts of Europe using the InterCity Express Train. After my program was over I made a point to travel to Paris, spending a couple of days exploring, relaxing and basking in the beauty of such an historic European city. Then I took the train to Frankfurt, ate my last European meal, wrote a blog post and enjoyed a quiet meal of trout and reading. There is so much more than just classes and studying while staying in Hessen.
There are the friendships to be made, the expeditions to be had together, the immersion into a society that is different from one’s own, the effort to better one’s language skills, and the smells and sights of the town or city one is studying in. I will never forget the kindness of my host family and all that they showed me of their hometown of Kassel. Depending on where one chooses to study, living options are either homestay, dorm or hotel, all included with the cost of the program. Homestay offers a chance to get to know the people of the culture, and they also provide the student with breakfast and dinner. In my case, my roommate and I were embraced like family and our host mom packed us lunch and made sure we had either seltzer water or a bottle of Fanta as well. I keep in touch with them and cannot wait to visit and spend time in Kassel again.
I highly recommend looking into a short-term study abroad in Hessen if it is at all possible. It will change your life in so many ways and may even guide you in a new direction of where you may want your education to lead. I am so happy that I took one month out of my life to change it forever. Please come by the Global Programs Study Abroad Office in the Campus Center in 2100. We are here to answer any questions and guide you in your traveling studies!
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