Cultural Experience | Berlin

CT Dialogue: From Emory to Europe, A Study Abroad Interview

Build friendships that last over beer and German sausage on study abroad

Biying Fiona Li is currently a junior at Emory University majoring in Finance, Accounting, and International Studies. Fiona and I met last summer when we did Emory’s European Politics Program, which was based in Berlin for the first four weeks. For the last two weeks of the program, we travelled to Budapest, Madrid, and the Hague to speak with a number of parliament representatives and economic experts to gain a better understanding of the EU.

Even though we parted ways after the program ended, Fiona and I still manage to get together every now and then and continue to Snapchat one another on a regular basis just like we did over the summer. As someone with whom I have shared many laughs, I couldn’t think of a better person to interview about her time abroad.

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Fiona and I at Street Food Thursday in Berlin

Why did you choose to spend a summer abroad instead of a semester? 

I chose to go abroad over the summer because the program was really interesting to me and I thought I could experience a lot of new things within a short period of time. I wanted to do a summer study abroad program because it allowed me to finish my major classes as soon as possible. I also found it cool to go to Europe during the World Cup.

How did you live like a local in your study abroad city? How did you embrace the local culture in your day-to-day life?

It was great living in Berlin. I can speak elementary German because I took German 101 and 102, so it was a great chance for me to practice my German speaking skills. During the summer I tried various kinds of food, including Mexican, German, Chinese, and Vietnamese food and found some great local coffee shops to study. Since it was during the World Cup, my friends and I also went to some bars and the Brandenburger Tor to watch Germany’s first game, which was the highlight of my summer.

What was the most amazing cultural experience you had?

Going to watch the World Cup game at the Brandenburger Tor with thousands of local Germans surrounding me was definitely the coolest experience during my time in Europe.

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Watching Germany’s first game in the World Cup at Brandenburger Tor

What are the top 3 sites to see?

Berliner Dom: The exterior of the Berliner Dom is magnificent and is worth taking a lot of good pictures. Inside of the Dom, you can appreciate the grandiose decoration of the ceiling and walls. You can also go up to the roof and appreciate the view of Berlin. Normally, you have to pay to get in, but we went for free, because our summer program provided us money for cultural excursions.

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Inside the Berliner Dom

Brandenburger Tor: I recommend everyone to go, especially if there’s a big event there, such as the World Cup. It’s also free and you can go anytime!

Beer Garden: I think it’s a special experience you should have in Germany. You get to chill with your friends, order a glass of beer, and eat German sausage. It’s a great cultural and relaxing experience, but they don’t have student discounts.

How has this study abroad trip impacted on your personal growth?

I have always wanted to go to Europe and I personally grew a lot by traveling to Prague by myself. European culture is quite different from American and Chinese culture. I learned a lot by going to different museums and sightseeing. I also made a lot of friends whom I consider as my good friends at Emory.

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Fiona at the top of the astronomical clock in Prague

What is one thing you regret not doing while abroad?

I regret that I didn’t have more time to travel to more countries by myself.

Tell me a funny/memorable story while you were abroad.

I tried to speak as much German as possible with locals to practice, but they always replied to me in English. I guess my German was too bad.

Where do you want to travel next?

I really want to go to South America where the culture and the natural environment are really different from where I’ve already been.

Nina Truong

Emory University | 8 stories

Nina Truong is a senior double majoring in International Studies and Film at Emory University from Scottsdale, Arizona. Unable to resist her love for travel, she spent the past three summers studying abroad in Italy, England, and Germany. She is a self-proclaimed navigator and enjoys pretending she knows the streets of foreign cities, but really fearing for her life that she doesn’t get the group lost. When she is not worrying about directions, she is constantly on the prowl for her next meal.

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