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Notes from Abroad: Nikita in Germany
Nikita Kazimirov ’20 is a major in International Relations and a minor in German who is studying in Marburg, Germany.
Hello, I am Nikita Kazimirov and I am currently studying abroad for the summer semester at the Philipps-Universität Marburg in Marburg, Germany. I am seeking to pursue a major in International Relations and a minor in German Studies. I am studying here in Germany to improve my German language and speaking skills (“aussprache” in German) as part of my German Studies minor. To truly master a language and the culture behind it, it is essential to live in the country where it is dominant and I am thankful for this opportunity to study in Germany to do just that. I believe that a combination of having a background in International Relations and knowing both the German language and the culture would allow me to have a unique skill set which will allow me to land an enjoyable and well-paying job. This is not my first time abroad; in fact I was actually born in Europe so the culture is rather familiar and not shocking as it might be for people from other countries. It is also not my first time in Germany; I visited Germany in 2015 for around 3 days and was able to get to know how things are here.
The culture is similar to America in many ways, such as fashion styles and American pop music dominating the radio waves. However, what is different are the little things which are both good or sometimes inconvenient. The most inconvenient thing is having to pay a Euro to use a public restroom. That is unheard of in the USA, but quite common here. Another inconvenience is having to pay extra money to get a shopping bag at a supermarket. In the USA, we have plastic bags free of charge, but in Germany the bags are made from paper and they cost about 70 cents each. Which means I have to carry around my backpack to go grocery shopping. However, there are also many positive aspects of German society which I believe outweigh the negative ones. The biggest positive aspect is the public transportation system. In the USA, owning a car is a must and a necessity. However, in Germany, public transportation can take you almost anywhere you desire and can do so at a very cheap price. In my opinion, that’s something that we could really use in the USA. What is also nice is that the sales tax is already included in all the prices in Germany and you don’t have to guess what the sales taxes are like in the USA every time you go to a different county. The price shown on the tag is the price you pay and that is very convenient.
Overall, Germany is significantly more dense than the USA and everything here seems smaller and closer. There aren’t any large massive boulevards that would fit your typical large American Buick or Cadillac. Many cities are ancient and have narrow streets. Yet the Germans made do with this by making everything more efficient and smarter. Homes in Germany have solar panels and wind power mills throughout the countryside, and old homes are cleverly repurposed instead of being torn down. Despite things being smaller in Germany, the classrooms and Marburg Universität itself is significantly bigger than LFC. There is a saying in Marburg that “most cities have a university, Marburg itself is the a university.” Meaning that the university dominates Marburg to such an extent that the city itself is the university. I have to take a bus to get from one building to another because the various faculties are scattered around the city. That’s not something I’ve had to do at LFC before. All the courses I’ve enrolled in are also in German, which is not something I’ve ever had before. Thankfully, I am able to understand most of what is being said and I expect this experience will greatly improve my German language skills. During my time here in Germany, I was able to visit the Schwarzwald where I tried the famous black forest cake and I visited Stuttgart and Frankfurt. Both very interesting cities, especially Stuttgart with its Mercedes-Benz museum.