Building Relationships Abroad

By Aimee Squires, Foster Undergraduate who participated in an exchange with WHU in Vallendar, Germany

Looking back on my time abroad, it’s hard to put into words how this experience helped shape me. Spending 4 months on exchange in Vallendar, Germany gave me so much more than I could have ever imagined from a school of 1,200 people and a town of 8,000 – quite a big change from UW. I would recommend that everyone study abroad, but I will say an exchange at WHU is very different from an exchange in a big city! The school provides all exchange students with such an incredible community and we spent the first couple of weeks at various events to get to know other exchange students and local students. With 100 exchange students, also known as ‘tauschies’, and no more than 7 coming from any single school, everyone is looking to develop friendships and meet new people. Everyone in the program was willing to put themselves out there to create these relationships, especially when most people lived on their own. However, by the end of our semester I was so lucky to have formed such close relationships with so many people. In all honesty, I have made better friends over the last four months that I have in my entire life. Living in a small town and traveling almost every weekend, there is an interesting balance between always having something to do and learning how to make your own fun, which the program helps with too! One big thing I learned while abroad is the true importance of feeling at home and feeling a sense of coziness, for lack of a better word. Noticing that this feeling was so centered around the people I was with made me realize that I actually don’t like staying in one place as long as I have people with me that make me feel at home and that’s really what this program brought to me.