WHOA – Lucius Mitchell

August 04, 2022

Greetings reader, my name is Lucius. I’m a global economics major, and I studied this last summer in Berlin, through UCEAP’s Berlin Summer program at Free University Berlin (FUB). Founded in 1948, FUB is one of Germany’s most renowned universities and maintains a prominent reputation internationally.

Preparing to study abroad is an involved and time-consuming process. As a transfer student, preparation was especially daunting because of the omnipresent constraint that time imposed. Still, studying abroad was an enriching experience, and experiencing a different mode of life while simultaneously making progress with my studies was rewarding. 

Language presented a barrier to an extent that I did not fully anticipate. Though many people in Berlin, a city with a large international presence, could speak and understand English, some could not. I often had to rely on my knowledge of the German language in my day-to-day life abroad. My wonderful host family, and I, for example, communicated exclusively in German. Not being able to readily communicate in my native tongue was a first for me. Sometimes it was annoying not being able to immediately and eloquently convey my thoughts or understand the thoughts of others. However, being forced to communicate in my ‘target’ language was a rewarding endeavor, which only served to bolster my German language capabilities. Fortunately, I have spent years studying German, both personally and academically. Still, upon realizing just how much more I would need to rely on the German language, I redoubled my efforts to practice, which served me well. 

There were two phrases that I encountered while studying abroad, which I continue to reflect on. Both phrases strengthened my self-resilience. First, one of my professors at FUB related to me: “Keine Fehler, kein lernen.” In English, this means “no mistakes, no learning.” No one likes making mistakes. The reality, however, is that without mistakes, there can be no learning. No one is omniscient, and the fear of failure only serves to prevent meaningful progress from being had. Especially while learning a new language, mistakes are bound to occur. It is important, however, to acknowledge them and keep moving forward. The second phrase that remains with me is one I encountered on a plaque in my suite of the house of my host family. The plaque read: “Lieben heißt kämpfen.” In English, this translates to: “To love is to fight.” Life is full of twists and turns, and rarely is anything ‘set in stone.’ It is important to never forgo one’s ambitions or that which one loves, especially in the face of adversity. I regularly reflect on the two phrases that I have related above. Both phrases presented welcome advice while I was adjusting to life in Berlin. However, it’s not the case that following my time in Berlin, my propensity to make mistakes or encounter adversity dramatically reduced. Now, however, when I make mistakes or encounter adversity, I often remind myself of those two phrases I encountered while abroad. 

As a student with financial need, I was worried about how I would afford to study abroad. Fortunately, I applied to and received the Gilman scholarship, which was especially helpful in facilitating my studies abroad. With the scholarship’s generous funding, I did not have to worry about how I would pay for different aspects of my program, which greatly reduced my stress. The Gilman scholarship, which I can honestly recommend to anyone who is interested in studying abroad and receives a federal pell grant, provides beneficial support and opportunities for recipients, which distinguishes it from other types of scholarships. While abroad, I had access to exclusive networking events, and support services should I have run into any problems, and much more. As an alumni of the Gilman scholarship, I am regularly afforded beneficial opportunities, many of which are professional, or will assist me in a professional capacity.

Thank you for reading, and I hope all is well with you as you undertake this next chapter of your educational journey!

Kind regards,

Lucius