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Brittany AtkinsonBrittany Atkinson
International Business, studied at Mannheim University in Germany

How It Began
Unlike many people who have the lifelong dream of going outside the country, I had never thought of studying abroad until the option was presented in my freshman Honors Proseminar course.  After hearing about other students’ wonderful experiences and getting a little taste of how exciting different cultures can be, I knew I had to study abroad right away!  I researched my options, filled out the application and found myself Germany-bound in the spring.  Never in a million years could I have dreamed how much this experience would alter my life…

In Mannheim, students live in apartments all over the city.  The great public transportation makes getting to class a breeze; both buses and street cars run close to the university and all over the city.  The living space is surprisingly spacious and comparable in price to housing at UNCG.  I really enjoyed having my own bedroom and a kitchen for cooking.  My suite-mate was another exchange student from Finland.  It was such a wonderful experience living with her and getting to learn about her culture.  I got to know several local students through the VISUM buddy program, which pairs international students with local students to help us adjust to life in Mannheim.

Since I studied abroad as a freshman, I focused mainly on general education (GEC) requirements.  Part of the exchange program at Mannheim involves a pre-session intensive language course.  It is amazing!  I went to Germany knowing how to say “ja” and “nein.” After the four-week pre-session, I could carry a basic conversation and received credit for two language courses.  As part of the pre-session, we had excursions all over Baden-Württemberg to learn more about German history and culture.  During the semester, I took courses to learn about German finance, European perspectives on American culture and some additional culture and language courses.

My Travel
Travel in most of Europe is incredibly convenient and affordable.  Using the Deutsche Bahn (German train system), I was able to travel to many cities all over Germany.  I also used my International Student Identification Card (ISIC) to get a discount price on the EUrail Pass.  The EUrail Pass grants full access to trains within 3-5 countries for a period of up to 15 days.  I used the pass for short trips or day trips to places such as Munich, Aachen, Cologne, Vienna, Milan, Geneva, Florentine, and many more.  Air travel is also very affordable.  A British carrier, RyanAir has flights for as low as $35 roundtrip.  With cheap airfare, I visited London, Istanbul, Athens and Rome.


  • Be open and adaptable to new situations.
  • Never pass up a chance to travel somewhere and experience a new culture.
  • Don’t stick with all American students – branch out and learn the culture/language.
Make a budget and stick to it! It’s easy to run out of money when you aren’t used to exchange rates and different currencies.

Page updated: 17-Feb-2009

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