​​Diversity is often a word we here used today but do not fully understand or embrace as students and young professionals. When I first started my undergraduate degree at Central in the fall of 2010 I would never have thought that I would be doing almost half of my bachelor’s on the other side of the world in a completely new and exciting culture while making some of the best friends and even new family. 

During my first spring semester I enrolled in German 102 thanks to my two previous years of German in high school. However, little did I know that I was laying the foundation for my experiences abroad in Germany while proactively setting me apart from my fellow peers as an individual with a unique set of skills. Upon my successful completion of German 102 I thought my time of studying German and learning about Germany in general was over since I had no plans to further my studies of German. The following semester I talked with a fellow peer who mentioned study abroad and said that I could still apply even though I was late. I later signed up for study abroad and visited Germany for my first time on a personal vacation and immediately fell in love with Germany. 

My first study abroad experience was a love-hate relationship. I did not at all enjoy the classes since I was extremely behind in German and found it difficult just to finish my homework let alone communicate every day and all day with my German host family. However, my host family helped me push myself with weekly vocab quizzes, practicing speeches that I would have to present, and simply expanding my everyday German vocabulary equaling the “love side” to this experience. I still maintain contact with my host family and I visit them every time I go to Germany and always enjoy seeing them! 

After a semester abroad I returned to Central with mixed feelings about the Verband program and if I could “keep up”. I continued my studies in German at Central, applied, and was so gratefully awarded a scholarship. So, I returned to Germany with personal goals, expectations of myself, and what I would like to achieve while being an international student. While abroad I pushed myself even harder by giving extra credit presentations, oral presentations, traveling, meeting new people, and volunteering and what I personally learned from all of my experiences have only furthered my pursuit of knowledge and living outside of my comfort zone. In addition to all this I was also able to take the German language exam and pass, which only helped to improve my resume and show to employers that I am truly a unique individual. 

In conclusion studying abroad has opened countless doors for me as I enter the workplace and has already furthered and advanced my career in the Air Force Reserves as I can now apply for special missions that require foreign language knowledge. I will never forget all of the people I met along the way and how they have shaped me into who I am today. So, thank you once again CMU for helping me to leave my stamp on the world and impacting the lives of the others! Take care.
~Ben Prout