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Student Reviews

Surbhi Chawla is a junior marketing major with a double minor in graphic design and women, gender, and sexuality studies at The College of New Jersey. In spring  she was fortunate enough to travel to Heidelberg, Germany through the European Study Center for one semester, and eventually took advantage of an internship opportunity in Lugano, Switzerland following the end of the program. Her interests, aside from traveling, include theatre and engaging in new cultures.

What is your favorite place in Heidelberg?
My favorite place to visit in Heidelberg was the area surrounding the main streets of Bergstrasse. There you always found small alleyways with little shops, and restaurants or cafes you could not find anywhere else. It had a very distinct European charm to it, like it was something out of a book, and I always found surprises there.

What was the most challenging part of living in Germany, and what did you do to overcome that challenge?
Coming from the New Jersey/New York area, one of the hardest things was living in a place where everything closed early, and having to plan around shops being closed in order to have basic necessities like food. In the beginning it was very hard but eventually you learn to properly budget your time, and being in a new place with different customs is a great way to do that!

What is the most interesting thing about German culture that you learned in one of your classes?
Something interesting and probably very useful to know I learned in my marketing class is that it’s actually rude to have your food sent back in Germany if you don’t like it – something that is pretty common in America.

Name one thing that you wish you had known before you came abroad?
Something I wish I knew before going abroad is always have cash on you, because unlike in the United States, most restaurants and shop owners don’t take credit/debit cards in Heidelberg.

Feel free to get in touch with me. I’m happy to answer your questions! chawlas1@tcnj.edu

Derek Bender, ESC spring semester student What is your favorite place in Heidelberg?
My favorite place in Heidelberg was along the philosopher’s trail hiking path. Once the road ends, there is a little section where you can sit down and enjoy the view of the city. I frequently went up there for an impromptu picnic, and would sometimes walk all the way up there to do some reading when I was bored.

What was the most challenging part of living in Germany, and what did you do to overcome that challenge?
Adapting to a foreign language was obviously challenging. However, I felt that budgeting was something that I was not initially prepared for. I was told about this before arriving in Heidelberg, yet I did not pay as much attention as I probably should have. So after a couple of expensive weeks, I decided to sit down, and figure out how I would budget myself, and make sure that the money available to me would last the entirety of my semester abroad.

What is the most interesting thing about German culture that you learned in one of your classes?
While studying, I took a class in European politics, and I found the culture around politics in Germany to be quite interesting. There were so many parties and opinions, and everyone always had something new to say or add to the discussions. During the warmer, second half of the semester. I would often see some tents put up around Bismarckplatz, each advocating for different stances and beliefs. Coming from the US, everything seemed so divisive, and the climate present in Germany was different from what I had seen at home.

Name one thing that you wish you had known before you came abroad?
I do wish that I knew more German before arriving, as it would have made some of the earlier weeks much easier. As the semester progressed, I picked up more words, and was able to communicate somewhat effectively in German. However, I do wish that I knew that the ESC was more of a private institution before arriving. This might be because of the fact that I did not attend classes at the SRH.

Feel free to get in touch! benderd5@tcnj.edu

Elizabeth Fernandez, ESc spring semester student
What is your favorite place in Heidelberg?
All of Haupstrasse, even though I would say all of Heidelberg is my favorite.

What was the most challenging part of living in Germany, and what did you do to overcome that challenge?
Not speaking German was the hardest challenge for me even though most people in Heidelberg spoke English. I wanted to try and learn a few phrases or words to be respectful, and by overcoming this I tried my best to learn German and I used Google translate.

What is the most interesting thing about German culture that you learned in one of your classes?
I would say that Germany’s Shakespeare was Goethe, and it interested me because he wrote Faustus, which was one of my favorite high school literature books I have read, and I learned this in my World Literature class.

Name one thing that you wish you had known before you came abroad?
To know that Germany only consists of cash.

Feel free to contact me with any questions at all! erfernan@student.uiwtx.edu

Alyssa Solis - ESC spring semester studentWhat is your favorite place in Heidelberg?
I would have to say my favorite place would be the banks of the Nekar River. We had many student barbeques on the river and laid out blankets soaking the sun. Some of our fellow students bought a volleyball and soccer ball and we spent the day playing on the banks of the river in town. Seeing the river and the green grass just made the experience in Heidelberg so great. It was the best place to go after a long day in class or after a test. It’s the best spot to relax and have fun!

What was the most challenging part of living in Germany, and what did you do to overcome that challenge?
The challenging part was stores closing early. Usually, I start my day a little later than others, and after classes I don’t have much time to go grocery shopping or go out to shop in the city during the week. Therefore, I make myself wake up earlier and also prepare what I need to buy in advance so that I can get the things ahead of time. And also on Sunday all stores are closed, so I would prepare the day before to get groceries and other things I need.

What is the most interesting thing about German culture that you learned in one of your classes?
Punctuality and being honest is very important in the German culture. They seem to like everything on time and also fast. It’s always important to be on time. If you’re not honest, it is a big insult to the individual. Honesty holds more meaning in the German culture, rather than the US culture in my opinion.

Name one thing that you wish you had known before you came abroad?
I wished I would have prepared better financially. I didn’t think I’d want to do as much traveling though I did. I had forgotten that in Europe free refills and free water isn’t a thing. You pay for that and also for ketchup, mayo, and mustard packets! Transportation payments are also involved which I didn’t realize how important that would be. So I would adjust my savings so that I can feel financially comfortable the next experience abroad.

Feel free to get in touch with me. I’m happy to answer your questions! acsolis@student.uiwtx.edu

My semester abroad at the European Study Center has so far been the best semester of my life. My time here has allowed me to learn through ways I have never before. I have learned how to travel, how to become more patient, how to be less reliant on cell phones, how to be more open to other people, and cliché enough; I have learned a lot about myself.

This program in Heidelberg is academically enriching, however, the classroom aspect is only a small part of the educational experience while abroad. Having a TCNJ professor at the European Study Center is extremely comfortable and allows some classes to mirror those that we are used to at home. However, the adjunct professors at the ESC are amazing as well.

Heidelberg is the perfect place to study abroad because it is a mix between the city life and also beautiful suburban/country life. In addition to that, Germany is pretty centrally located in Europe and therefore allows weekend travels to be extremely easy. Our program included trips to Berlin, Germany and Strasbourg, France. On my own I visited Amsterdam (Netherlands), Zurich (Switzerland), Munich (Germany), London (England), Dublin (Ireland), Berlin (Germany), Budapest (Hungary), Prague (Czech Republic), Barcelona (Spain), Paris (France), and even Tangier (Morocco)! I would definitely suggest this program to anybody interested in studying abroad.

Feel free to contact me with any questions at all! Leem27@tcnj.edu

My original plan was to study over summer, for a shorter amount of time, as an entire semester abroad seemed intimidating to me; however, an entire semester abroad turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made.  The nearly four months in Heidelberg, Germany, provides the cost effectiveness and cultural immersion that could not be achieved in a shorter program. What’s more, the time I spent in Europe was made much better by staying at the ESC.  The helpfulness of the staff, the friendships made in the due to the dorm-style living, the excursions and the location of the ESC made the transition from the States to Europe much easier and ensured that my time spent here was not wasted.

The experiences that one has while studying abroad cannot be replicated by staying at one’s home university.  You will hear again and again how people have grown as individuals in ways they could not have foreseen, and that is no different for me. When I heard from previous study abroad students that they had grown as a person, I thought it was a cliché claim made to seem more cultured and socially intelligent. Now that I experienced it for myself, I can assure you that that is not the case.
If you are looking to do something that you have not done before, or if you are looking to achieve a level of independence that you have not achieved before, then studying abroad is for you. The people you meet and the things that you do will be in your heart and mind for your whole life.

If you have any questions or want to talk about studying abroad or anything else, email me: barghow1@tcnj.edu.


My study abroad experience at the European Study Center has been the adventure of my lifetime. Studying abroad in a foreign country for an extended period of time has helped me grow as an individual, learn key elements about myself, and has provided me with life lessons and a new and important perspective towards life that I could not have received inside a classroom environment.

The program is culturally enriching, socially valuable, and an overall fascinating educational experience. I have always known that I would learn in a different way while abroad, but I had no idea exactly how that would occur. I have learned to be a better me simply by being a part of this program. I value the friendships I have made that will last long past this experience, and the connections I have made with the faculty and staff in Germany are some of the most comfortable and worthwhile connections I could have made while abroad. The experience I received just from living in such a marvelous place for 4 months has been the most stimulating and effective program for learning I have taken part in. I know that it will be difficult for me to leave the ESC and can definitely see myself coming back in the future.

I would recommend this program to anybody who has an interest in studying abroad. I feel as though I have gained so much as a person and I am already looking forward to using the skills I have established here back in my personal and professional life in New Jersey.

The world is a place full of opportunity and taking the time out of my four years at TCNJ and utilizing one here, I have learned that there are so many options in the world and because of the ESC my eyes and horizons have been opened exponentially. The ESC has proven to me that challenging myself and going for what I want is feasible and certainly worth any risk. The ESC is a fantastic place to study broad and one can gain more than they would even expect from this experience.

Feel free to get in touch with me directly – lamainj1@tcnj.edu

jenna-nichollWhile studying abroad in Heidelberg, I have learned that stepping out of your comfort zone, as scary as it sounds, does not necessarily mean that you are out of place. I have found that even though cultures all over the world are vastly different, you can always find your place and learn about the people and the different social aspects of living day-to-day in beautiful Heidelberg, Germany!

interview-shahStudying abroad in Heidelberg has easily been the best decision of my life so far, both personally and academically. From making unforgettable friendships with those in the European Study Center, to exploring the different realms of Europe, I have learned and grown so much as a person. Studying abroad made me appreciate other cultures and encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone. Before being here, I would never take that spontaneous weekend trip to a random city in Europe (which is really easy with Heidelberg’s prime location in Europe!). I would never try that funny looking food on the menu of some hidden away cafe. Being here has opened my mind and really impacted me in a beneficial way.

Heidelberg quickly became a place I would call “home” for the four months I was here. The charming architecture, scenic land scape, and ever-present history looming around the street corner can infatuate anyone with this city. I learned so much by taking courses here, but even more when I traveled around Germany with the ESC. Living here gave me the perfect blend of safety, academic focus, and cultural immersion I could not find anywhere else.

If you are a business major, or any major, who has the opportunity to study abroad here, I highly recommend coming. You will see yourself transform into a more open-minded, cultural, and independent person in a span of four months through every day-to-day interaction. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to study in Heidelberg, and plan to come back one day.

interview-villarealStudying abroad at the European Study Center in Heidelberg was one of the best decisions I have made, and I feel very lucky that I had this opportunity. I studied one semester and then worked as an intern the next semester. I took classes at the European Study Center as well at the SRH University. The courses were interesting and the instructors had a lot of expertise. For the internship the ESC staff first advised me to set goals of where I wanted to intern and select companies I was interested in. The staff provided training for the interviews and in the end hard work paid off – I got a great internship in project management, which fits in perfectly with my Engineering Innovation and Development major. It feels amazing to accomplish your goal!

I highly recommend The ESC to anyone that wants to have an enriching experience abroad. I was supported and guided by the ESC staff; they have been the greatest and always make sure you are doing well. I learned a lot about myself, being abroad and what I am capable of doing. There is no better combination of a city as great as Heidelberg and the ESC – I can say now I have lost my heart in Heidelberg at the ESC.