Greetings from Russia. Picture: Anh Tran
Thanksgiving is not usually celebrated in Germany or in Vietnam, where I come from. My friends from Mexico also celebrate Thanksgiving but with typical Mexican culinary. While studying abroad in the U.S, I notice that it is a very important holiday, during which families gather and have a large meal together. The meal typically consists of roast turkey, mashed potato with gravy, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. It is an occasion to take a moment to give thanks and feel blessed.
This year, my Thanksgiving is a bit different as I celebrated it with students from all around the world at Dutzendteich dorm. We had the option to prepare a typical dish from our countries and share them at the party. In Germany, it was difficult to buy a big whole turkey unless it was special order. So our Thanksgiving dinner had no turkey but more than 20 dishes of different ethnicities, ranging from chicken curry, spring roll, bratwurst, pasta, etc.
We all contributed to the party in some forms, either it was cash (3 euros/ person) or paper plates, and drinks. After everyone tried out the food, we voted for the best dish. The winner could have free drinks at the bar for the whole night.
Welcome to Duke University. Photo: Hannah Riemann
Over two months ago, I was sitting at home packing my bags to go on my next big adventure: studying in the United States for a year at Duke University in North Carolina. Considering the current American political scene and the fact that I am a political science student who does not really agree with most of the political choices Americans have made lately, it was quite a jump for me. The fact that I would live in the conservative South of the United States did not really calm my fears of spending my next 10 months arguing with Americans about politics.
Now I have lived and studied at Duke University for over two months, visited great lectures, had amazing conversation and discussions with other students and professors and came to the conclusion: I really like it here.
Make America great again?
But don’t worry. I did not turn into a redneck, hillbilly, gun-owning Trump supporter. As an American friend put it when I asked him whether North Carolina belongs to the Deep South: “Yes, they were part of the Confederacy, but you are in a super liberal pocket of North Carolina in Durham. Drive 20 minutes in any direction and you will find some hillbilly …… (*insert censor beep sound here*).” It seems that I just got lucky and ended up in one of the most liberal areas of the Deep South. So far, I have not had “the pleasure” of talking with a Trump-supporter, because everyone I met here is ashamed of having him as their “president”. It is true though that as soon as you leave Durham and drive through the more rural areas of North Carolina, it is not uncommon to find Confederate flags hanging in front yards or “Make America great again” stickers on bumpers.
So many places to go to. Photo: Hannah Riemann
After applying for the exchange program of the FAU with the Duke University in North Carolina, USA, I was more than excited to find out in March, that I was accepted along with two other FAU-Students. What I did not know was all the preparation work that comes with an exchange semester, so here I will write down what hurdles I stumbled upon, so you don’t make the same mistakes.
Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork
First of all, there is all the paperwork to deal with. The program I applied for came with a DAAD-scholarship and there were all the papers I had to sign to make sure that everything with the scholarship runs smoothly, because to be honest, I could not afford paying 50,000$ to study at an American university. Most scholarships come with obligations: Students have to take a certain amount of credit points at the exchange-university and have to write several reports on how their stay is. Keep that in mind and note down the due dates, because when you sign an agreement that wants you to hand in a report six months later, it is easy to forget it.
After dealing with the first bunch of paperwork, some host-universities still want the student to apply separately. So even though I was already accepted by my home university I still had to apply directly to the American university. I had to go through the entire process and also had to ask some professors to write me letters of recommendation in English. I had to hand in more paperwork, and the process this time was even longer, because I had to send it to the States via mail and it felt like it was taking ages. So, make sure to start your paperwork as soon as possible, because it all takes longer than you’d expect.
The cast of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” from July 2017. Photo: EDS
It’s that time of year again, with fresh faces filling the halls of Kollegenhaus, professors dusting off last year’s syllabus, and stress and excitement running high over the beginning of the new semester. What better outlet for all your energy and emotions than drama? Now is the time when the university’s English Dramatic Society (EDS) holds auditions for its biannual play!
In July, you might have had the chance to see the Shakespearian classic “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” the summer semester production by EDS. This winter semester’s production will be staged in February, but auditions are on right now.
EDS plays are held at the end of each semester in the Experimentiertheater, located in the Audimax building. Rehearsals are held throughout the semester on Mondays through Thursdays from 8 to 10:30pm at Bismarckstrasse 1. If you are interested in participating this semester, get in touch with EDS right away on their Facebook page!
I spoke with Kirsten Henry, director of EDS for the last 20 plays, and former FAU Theater Studies student. She was cast in her first EDS play, “The Front Page,” while a student in 2001. Henry told me that new participants are always encouraged to come audition or support the plays in other ways behind-the-scenes, from costume-makers to set-builders to make-up artists to ticket-sellers. EDS has a loyal group of both students and non-students who come back from semester to semester, but new members are always encouraged. Henry assured me that you don’t need to be a native speaker of English to join either – all those interested in theater are welcome.