CAS '20 Qingyang (Freya) Zhou

SA: Berlin Consortium for German Studies
PGS: Travel to Israel
GRIP: Intern in Morocco
PSA: Multiple

Programs Abroad:

  • Semester Abroad (SA): Berlin Consortium for German Studies

  • Penn Global Seminars (PGS): The Image of the City of Haifa: Literature, Architecture, Film

  • Global Research & Internship Program (GRIP): Human Rights Internship in Rabat, Morocco

  • Penn Summer Abroad (PSA): Penn-in-the-Alps, Switzerland

  • Penn Summer Abroad (PSA): Penn-in-Cannes, France

Ask me about...

  • The differences between the academic cultures of East Asia, North America, and Europe

  • Studying abroad as an ethnic minority in your host country

My Experience Abroad:

My semester abroad experiences greatly benefited my academic career at Penn. I have three majors in German, Cinema & Media Studies, and Comparative Literature. When I studied at the Freie Universität Berlin through the Berlin Consortium for German Studies (BCGS/BBN) program, I was able to take six classes in German. My German language abilities improved a lot, and I gained a more nuanced understanding of German cinema through courses on specific German film genres such as Heimatfilm, queer German cinema, and films of the former German Democratic Republic, which are not usually offered at Penn. The knowledge I gained and the culture I experienced through the BCGS program motivated me to conduct archival research in Berlin in August 2019 for my two upcoming senior theses on the portrayal of the Chinese in East German documentaries of the 1950s.

Other Highlights:

  • Before my semester abroad program started in Berlin, I took an intensive language and culture class at the Goethe Institut Göttingen. I eventually obtained the C2-level German language certificate at the end of June.

  • When in Berlin, I tried to immerse myself in the culture as much as possible. I found several language tandem partners, who are native German speakers wanting to learn Mandarin. We always practiced speaking German for one hour and then switched to Mandarin for another hour, so that we could all improve on our speaking skills for free. In addition, I went to German theaters to see German plays, operas, and ballet shows every single week, so I know all about how to get student discounts and best seats for various kinds of shows.

  • On weekends and during longer breaks, I traveled to other German cities, including Frankfurt, Wartburg (most beautiful medieval castle I’ve seen to date), Braunschweig (carnival in February), Leipzig, Bremen, Dortmund (football museum), and Potsdam (Sanssouci, summer palace of Frederick the Great). I also went to Amsterdam and Szczecin, Poland. At the end of the summer, I participated in Penn-in-the-Alps, learning geology while hiking in the Swiss and Italian Alps. Hit me up if you want travel tips in Germany!

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