Academic Year 2011-2012

Mary Bechtol – Beijing, China CIEE Intensive Language

Vitals: Chinese and International Studies Double Major, German Certificate

Goals: Language, language, language!  Since I will be abroad for the academic year and am taking part in a language intensive program I hope to be (close to) fluent in Mandarin when I leave.  Also, since I’ve traveled to China before I have already been the typical crazy tourist and now am looking to live life as a Chinese college student.  Besides spending my time finding secret spots and hole-in-the-wall restaurants, I hope to be constantly learning new customs and traditions.

Motivation: The summer before my freshman year I spent six weeks abroad in Shanghai.  I had zero experience with Mandarin and lived with a host family that didn’t speak English.  We communicated using a visual dictionary and spent time after dinner teaching each other our respective languages.  The chance I got to meet this amazing family compelled me to further study China as a whole, and the fact that it is being seen more and more on the world stage only intrigues me more!

Previous overseas travel: China, Germany, Czech Republic, Italy, Austria, Mexico, Canada, England

Jessica Borniger – Freiburg, Germany

Vitals: I am double majoring in Political Science and Environmental Studies with a certificate in Global Cultures.

Goals:  My number one goal is to achieve fluency (or as close to it as possible) in the German language and really immerse myself in the culture. I have been to Germany several times to visit family but the language barrier has always caused some limitations. Through the Academic Year in Freiburg I really plan to take advantage of every opportunity that comes my way not only in Germany but also in all of Europe.

Motivation:  I have always known I was going to study abroad in Germany my junior year of college. It has never been a debatable aspect of my undergraduate career. Freiburg is one of the most sustainable cities in the world and so this program combines two of my greatest interests: German and environmental studies. Two summers ago I spent a month in Dusseldorf, Germany taking a beginner’s language class. I quickly learned this short visit was not nearly enough and am so excited to live abroad for a year.

Previous overseas travel:  Germany, France, Netherlands, England, Canada, and Mexico.

Zach Garcia – Tokyo, Japan Sophia University

Vitals: French, Japanese and Geography

Goals: I am determined to improve my proficiency in Japanese! I would like to network while in Japan to establish some connections for the future.

Motivation: I’ve been studying Japanese for some years now and I feel that the only way for me to increase my studies of Japanese is to throw myself into everything Japanese. Also, I love Japan and I feel like this is the right time in my life to transition into a Japanese lifestyle.

Previous overseas travel: Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, France, Mexico and Canada

Megan Harahan – Massey, New Zealand

Vitals: History Major (Possibly double with Communication Arts)

Goals: I most look forward for the chance to see an entire new part of the world. Not only will I be able to study in a new environment but I will be immersed in a new culture of mixed tradition and modern. I have always wanted to travel and this is my opportunity to do so. While there I hope to live the Kiwi life AND travel around that part of the world. Oh! And I hope to acquire a sweet accent by the time I return!

Motivation: A few years back my brothers went to Australia and New Zealand. They returned completely enamored with those places. Ever since I have also wanted to travel there and experience what that part of the world has to offer. When I realized that I could study there, I couldn’t see myself going any other route. It was a done deal in my mind. So I’m packing my bags and heading to the other side of the world for the opportunity of a lifetime!

Previous Overseas Travel: Costa Rica

Gary Krautkramer – Freiburg, Germany

Vitals: Linguistics, Sociology, and German Majors; TESOL Minor

Goals: Probably my main goal would be to increase my level of comprehension of the German language, first because German is one of majors, and second a good comprehension of the German language will be crucial to my success in a desired area of employment: namely, translation. Additionally, I hope to learn a lot about the differences – and similarities – between our cultures. I will be spending a lot of time getting to know the local culture in Freiburg, but I also plan to travel all over Germany, as well as do some major travelling around Europe (on bike) during my breaks. Finally, I also hope to meet a lot of wonderful new people and to make connections in the translation “industry” abroad.

Motivation: Ever since I returned from a two-week-long trip to Germany during my sophomore year of high school, I realized how important it would be for me to return for a much longer period, and I’ve been waiting quite a long time to do so. Germany is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen, and rich with a cultural history that resonates with me. I also have a passion for the German language, and so Germany is one of the most natural choices. I chose the Academic Year in Freiburg specifically because it is a year-long program – I want to take the time to truly live in Germany, for many reasons. First, I hope to raise my level of comprehension of the German language as high as I possibly can before finishing my undergraduate studies, because I am interested in possibly pursuing my graduate program in Germany. This program also seemed to be the best chance for me to see whether I am truly serious about doing so. Secondly – and very much related to the latter point – I will have a chance to adapt to a different kind – or form – of education, and to thus become better prepared for graduate school abroad. Finally, a year-long program really allows me the time to focus on learning about the German culture, as well as giving me the time to do some real-world studies that I am interested in doing for my honors in the (German) major program.

Previous overseas travel: Russia, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, and Germany

Lindsay Sheedy – Bologna, Italy

Vitals: Double major in Italian and art history.

Goals: My primary reason for going to Bologna is to improve and develop my Italian and essentially become fluent in the language.  Italy is also home to some of the most beautiful art in the world, which is my second academic love. The possibilities are endless!

Motivation: Bologna is a language-intensive program, which is exactly what I was looking for. I was also looking to study abroad for an entire year, so the program worked out perfectly for me!

Previous overseas travel: I have been fortunate enough to travel to Mexico, Costa Rica, Italy (2x!) and Greece. My favorite has (obviously) been Italy.  At the end of my study abroad experience, I hope to have added many more countries to this list!

Samantha Weber – Madrid, Spain

Vitals: Junior from Brown Deer, Wisconsin majoring in Spanish & Communicative Disorders

Goals: Use only Spanish as much as possible, be able to pass a bilingual competency exam for graduate school, live with some Spaniard roommates and make them love me even though I’m American, get a new wardrobe, eat as much new food as possible, make the Spanish accent my own, visit as many countries as I can, take pictures in my badger overalls in each of those counties, and come back to the States with some crazy stories (example: running with the bulls).

Motivation: My family has been taking road trips around the States since before I was born which made being the youngest of five kids a hoot when we were all crammed in the back of a conversion van on top of a weeks worth of clothes and food for all, headed to Yellowstone, Texas, the Grand Canyon, New York, or Florida. Those semi-annual trips lit a fire in me for seeing the world and years of being cooped up learning in a classroom has me itching for the type of knowledge that only comes from experience. Being as my current career path is Bilingual Speech Pathology with children, I kinda need to start working on that bilingual part, and also, call me a crazy American, but throwing myself onto a different continent, into a new culture, and using only a foreign language is my idea of fun.  I guess it’s therefore been a combination of family ideals and culture that has created this Spain-bound “gringa” with a bad Spanish accent and a burning desire for travel.

Previous overseas travel: Canada, Turks & Caicos Islands and Alaska…not abroad, but I did fly over some sea to get there! (this is a sad list that WILL BE extended throughout the next year)

Aaron Zein – London, England (Westminster)

Vitals: Junior International Studies: Global Economy Major, Certificate in European Studies


Goals: My main goals while abroad are to travel all over the UK and Europe, have tea and crumpets with the Queen, celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland, and basically immerse myself in British culture.  I’d be lying if I didn’t say I want to see as many football (soccer) games as possible too.  Overall I just want to meet as many new people as possible and have the best time ever in London.


Motivation: Fish and chips…enough said.  Being serious though I’ve wanted to live and study in a different country for as long as I can remember.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Wisconsin and the United States but what’s the fun of staying in the same place all the time?  I wanted to be able to experience things for myself rather than read about them in textbooks.  London is the most fascinating city in the world for me, and I can’t think of anything better than to live and study there for a year.


Previous Overseas Travel: Mexico

2 thoughts on “Academic Year 2011-2012”

  1. Spent spring 2004 in Florence at Villa Corsi Salviati. I have to say it was life-transforming. Best four months of my life.

  2. To those Badgers studying abroad in Europe, I highly recommend looking into an early year trip to Oktoberfest in Munich. I studied in Aix en Provence during the 2002-2003 academic year and myself and three other UW students in Aix made the last minute decision to venture to Munich. It was by far one of the most memorable trips I went on the entire year. The Essen Haus back home has nothing on the real thing…

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