Josh Stillman (Trinity '12)

Monday, May 14, 2012

"You always hear people say that studying abroad in college was one of the best decisions they ever made – well, in the case of Duke in Berlin, I’m happy to vouch for that claim. I went into the program without knowing any other participants and with a limited knowledge of German culture. Six weeks later, I left with a deep appreciation for the country and some of my most enduring friendships. It was a leap of faith that continues to yield dividends to this day.

But that’s just a personal takeaway. The program itself was fun, comprehensive, and superbly well-organized. Bill Donahue and the rest of the professors responsible for the trip should be commended for their hard work and enthusiasm – it was literally contagious. For them, it was so much more than work – it was a love affair, essentially, and that consuming zeal for the city and the people and the culture was a delight to behold. And it totally rubbed off on the students. I can’t recall a single other experience in college in which I was so eager to learn and participate in an academic regimen. I even went out of my way to do additional research so that my work was that much more thorough.

Of course I’m guilty of some nostalgia and hyperbole as I write this. But I can’t overemphasize how special the memories of that experience are to me. I’m still in regular contact with the friends I made, I still talk about how great the city is (just last night I explained to someone why Berlin is the best city in Europe), and I will never forget the things I learned both in and outside of the classroom. Berlin in the summertime is a wonderful place. Truly, I loved every minute of it."