Ms. Alonso from the Universidad de Guadalajara, Mexico, was a CGSP participant for two consecutive semesters.
Hello, my name is Jaquelin Alonso. I am 22 years old and come from Guadalajara, Mexico.
I have chosen the University of Cologne (UoC) for a study abroad because at my university in Mexico we receive a lot of students from Cologne and they told me about the interculturality of the city and that it is a nice spot for students.
I was interested in learning German and therefore the UoC, as it has a partnership agreement with my home university, was the best option for me to come here.
When I got accepted at the UoC I was told that I had two options, to study either at the Faculty for Management, Economics and Social Sciences or to participate in the Cologne Global Study Program (CGSP). I preferred the CGSP because of its diverse focuses, such as history, economics and culture. In Mexico I study international relations, thus the wide range and diversity of the courses offered by the CGSP seemed to complement my studies in a profitable way.
One of my favorite classes was Comparative Environmental Law, which consisted of many interesting academic main focuses. There were also offered classes on the cold war and the division of Germany in the context of the political division of the world. I had class-mates from many other countries, as for example from Latin-America, China and also from Germany. This fact gave the opportunity to complement the classes in matters of opinions and positions.
I also liked the excursions offered by the CGSP, for example the trip to the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium. The other excursion I liked was the trip to Bonn to the United Nations. It was great to gain the possibility to go there and to link the content of the lectures with the excursions. We also have seen the historical places, where Helmut Kohl and Angela Merkel started their political career. The excursions were great to establish social relations to the other students as well as to the lecturers. The lecturers stressed the participation of all students, no matter from which culture they came from. There were quiet and shy students, but the CGSP-lecturers were interested in tearing down those psychological barriers.
The team which is working for the CGSP is very frank and helps you with everything regarding the stay and study in Cologne. The team always brings along a possibility to fix everything, even if you think that everything is going to be chaotic.
When I arrived to Cologne, little by little I started to meet people and to find friends. The people in the streets are always concerned with helping you, even if you do not speak well German. My course schedule allowed to travel and to see a lot of different parts of Germany, besides of Cologne.
The wintertime was really nice. There were many little Christmas markets and people drinking “Glühwein” all over the town. In comparison to other German cities, Cologne is very open-minded and intercultural. People from Cologne try to integrate you into society and you do not feel excluded. The Germans may be more reserved, but in my experience they were really friendly and tried to help me in every situation.
A big advantage is the student semester ticket which permits you to use the entire public transport services within North Rhine-Westphalia. You can go to see the castles in Düsseldorf, in Brühl and in Bonn, for example. You can travel to the Belgian and the Dutch frontier without supplementary payment.
All in all the CGSP is a good program where you gain introductory knowledge about Europe in various fields, for example European politics or European history. Depending on the courses you chose. I had the impression that the other students, although they might have courses of study which are not strongly connected to the CGSP, really enjoyed this program. If you succeed in the CGSP you get a special certificate in the end which proves that you gained basic knowledge in contemporary European studies .
Ms. Rath is a fully enrolled student at the UoC and participated in the course "Institutions of the EU" through Studium Integrale.
Dear Eva, please tell us why you chose a class on Contemporary European Studies as part of the Studium Integrale:
I chose one of this classes because I am very interested in the EU and wanted to gain deeper knowledge about their Institutions and rules. Germany is part of the EU and in my opinion, we all should know more about the EU, because it is our future as a part of Europe. The EU supports a desirable lifestyle for the next generation with its uniqueness, tolerance and various cultures.
Did your participation in the course change your perception of the EU in any way?
Yes, it defnitely did. The EU and its processes are sometimes hard to understand for non-politic students. This course was very helpful in dividing the institutions of the EU and understanding their tasks. We also talked critically about the advantages and disadvantages, which was important to build an independent opinion about the EU.
Before participation, did you have any misconceptions about the EU that the course helped to dispell?
In today's media, there are a lot of misconceptions about the EU to fnd. To research and analyse the EU by myself I could not only gain greater knowledge but also
understand the rules and motives of the EU institutions. It really helped me to get an objective view and dispell some popular misconceptions.
Do you feel that the classes invited you as an EU-citizen to deeper understand the core values of the EU, maybe even spark a stronger identification?
I always felt like an EU- citizen and supported the values of the EU, but the course helped me to understand the history and present status of the EU even more. It also
made me think about the future of the EU and how we can be part of it and inguence it in our favour.
Please feel free to share any additional comments or feedback regarding the course/the program as a whole:
The course was a great experience and I got to know a lot of very interesting students with dicerent nationalities. The exchange in this course was highly interesting and I was also able to see the EU from an outside perspective.
Ms. Newman, student of the University of Rochester, New York, USA, was a CGSP particpant for one semester.
My name is Jessica Newman and I am an exchange student from the United States. I studied at the University of Rochester in New York. Not in New York City, a little further north, a little more snow. I am part of the CGSP here in Cologne.
After becoming an exchange student here at the university, I heard about the Cologne Global Study Program and decided to take advantage of it. One of my reasons for doing so is that I feel that coming from the United States, we are taught this vision of American exceptionalism; we come from the greatest country in the world, we have the best education system, the best business. While the United States is a great country, I also think that the Cologne Global Study Program is such a great opportunity to learn about Europe, European institutions, and the positive programs here, as well as a chance to get to learn alongside students from all over the world.
With the Cologne Global Study Program, I am taking classes about European history, learning about European social institutions, and learning how these institutions are creating progress here in Germany. We learn about the European Union and its functions, the different institutions, their goals and visions. Through this process, I have gained a lot of insight into what makes Europe work and what makes it a great place to live in. Through these experiences, I have been able to look at myself and my own experiences in my home country and recognize areas where we are thriving, areas where we can improve, and areas where Europe and the United States might be able to work together. I think that is a reason why the program is enriching. It has made me a more open minded, knowledgeable, and thoughtful student, able to think outside of my little “American bubble”.
In addition to being simply very happy with what the Cologne Global Study Program offers, I wanted to study abroad for the opportunity to improve my language skills. I took German for two years at a university level as well as studied classical voice. German is very important for classical singing and opera and I wanted to continue the work I had already begun with the language. I believe that the only way you might really become fluent or come close to fluency is if you travel to the country where the language is spoken and immerse yourself in it – keep practicing! The Cologne Global Study Program also offers the opportunity to enroll in German courses. In addition, the CGSP allows me to study with peers from all around the world. Some of my friends are from China, or Japan, or Mexico, or Brazil, Bulgaria, Germany – someone from every corner of the world. I think it is a life changing and once in a lifetime opportunity to be surrounded by this global community at the university. I also think that is what makes this university to special: you walk the Albertus Magnus Platz and you hear German, you hear Chinese, and then you hear Spanish. The diversity of the community is really special and unique and I do not think that that exists at any other university. I love that I speak English in my CGSP classes, and then I speak German with my German friends or in my German classes, and then I have a Spanish roommate and I speak Spanish with her. This sort of intercultural opportunity and the chance to learn about people from all over the world and their cultures is really special and the diversity of the university helps support that.