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WSU students embrace opportunities to study abroad in Germany

Numerous opportunities await students during semester breaks. One of those opportunities is studying abroad. This year, Wayne State introduced a new annual trip that allows students interested in German to visit Germany and Austria.

Cori Peet, Ph.D., is a German assistant professor at WSU and this year’s trip advisor. Peet and Associate Professor of German Nicole Coleman, Ph.D., conceived the idea from

“What we did is we thought, ‘Oh, it would be great to take some students in the 1020 course to Munich, so they can kind of see what it would be like to live there or to explore the city, to check it out (and) ideally, encourage them to take part in a longer study abroad program,” Peet said.

Wayne State’s JYM page describes the program as “America’s oldest study abroad program in Germany.” The program is associated with Ludwig Maximilians Universität München (LMU Munich), Germany’s top-ranked research university.

Students across all disciplines are welcome to apply for JYM. However, basic German is necessary as all courses are taught in German. WSU cites “flexibility and compromise” as “the way our students always have dealt with studying at LMU Munich successfully.”

JYM can help students design a program of study by combining JYM and university courses with a research project or possibly an internship. Students from all accredited U.S. colleges and universities (juniors, seniors, and qualified second-semester sophomores) are eligible to apply.

Even though the trip was only during spring break, the itinerary was filled with activities. These included exploring cities like Munich, Dachau, and Salzburg and visiting Olympic Park, BMW World and various museums. The nine students who attended were invited to visit the JYM institute.

As with JYM, the new program is open to any student. 

“Some people are just coming for that experience, which is wonderful,” Peet said. “Others are maybe on the fence; they want to see what it’s like, and it gives them the advantage.”

Peet attended JYM 20 years ago, giving her a unique vantage point. 

“I know how the public transportation works, so everything can go more seamlessly,” Peet said. “It’s interesting to see how Munich has changed since my time in JYM 20 years ago.”

Shauna Chaffin, an undergraduate biochemistry student, embarked on the adventure to Germany. She took German in high school and continued studying the language at WSU. 

“I realized how much I had actually learned in the past, and really enjoyed continuing to learn the language,” Chaffin said. “I was really excited to be able to do that and in a planned environment.”

“You could see the similarities to towns and things here in America.” Her experience was about exploring a new country and discovering the familiar in the unfamiliar, a sentiment many students can relate to,” Chaffin said. “It was really interesting. There were so many little differences, like how much people walk there. There are so many stairs everywhere.”

Chaffin said she wants to be a psychiatrist and visiting another country allowed her to learn and interact with more people. 

“Any time someone takes time to understand and to learn new things, that’s really helpful,” Chaffin said, “People are the same everywhere you go. They understand that you’re trying to make an effort and they sense your humanity. And they’re like, ‘I’m gonna try and connect with you.’ And I feel like there are ways to connect with people and communicate.”

Tyler Zoldos, an undergraduate majoring in employment and labor relations, was hesitant at first because he did not speak German. 

“We all became like a really close cohort, and everyone was very kind,” Zoldos said.“While I was there, I learned a little German via Google Translate and Professor Peet.”

Zoldos had the fortunate opportunity to speak (in English) with a resident who works in human resources, the field he hopes to work in. 

“I was asking, ‘What are the differences in Germany?’ But it was very similar,” Zoldos said.

Zoldos recalled the reaction he received when he told people he was traveling to Germany. 

“They were kind of like, ‘Oh, Germany,’” Zoldos said.“There’s definitely a lot of dark history… but they don’t talk about the beautiful history. There’s so many other parts of their history. That is very important.”

One of Zoldos’ favorite sites was an English garden similar to Central Park in New York City.

“They actually have a river there where they surf on the river because the current is so strong,” Zoldos said. “I’ve never seen something like that.”


Eisbach Wave in The Englischer Garten. 

Zoldos suggests studying abroad to any student who has the opportunity. 

“You have to be curious. You have to really want to soak (up) all the culture… be willing to be respectful, observe and just take in the experience,” Zoldos said. “Don’t hesitate… It’s a great opportunity to practice your language and really immerse yourself.”

Andy Jeffrey is The South End’s Multimedia Editor. They can be reached at . 

Cover photo provided by Tyler Zoldos.