I have an… interesting family, and from my birth in Eureka, California to my early childhood in the Redwood forest the pristine, raw nature that surrounded me left a lasting impression on how I grew as a person i.e. having a deep respect and love for nature while having a rustic, relaxed attitude towards life in general. I would revisit my grandparents in the Redwoods near Crescent City for every summer of my childhood; however when I was five years old my mother and three brothers moved down south to the Bay Area where I stayed for the rest of my teens, including my time at San Francisco State University. That said, when I turned twenty I made the decision to study abroad after befriending many Japanese and other international students via Karate Alliance on campus, and I initially made the choice to apply to Japan.
That was the plan anyway. What really ended up happening was that after taking a long, hard look at my finances I decided that I’d study somewhere cheaper instead, and after pondering my options I remembered that I took a year of German during my freshman year of high school and loved it. As a result, I applied to the Learn German Program through CSU IP, and in August 2016 I landed in Frankfurt airport to begin my exchange in Germany. I initially went to the small town of Horb in Baden-Württemberg were I entered an intensive language course consisting of six hours of German instruction per day for six weeks at the Herman Hesse Kolleg whilst staying with a guest family. Fortunately, in hindsight, having a monolingual guest mother and virtually absent guest father was a secret, although initially awkward blessing as my German advanced enough to where I was able to take classes at the University of Tübingen with other international students.
The majority of my friends ended up not being Germans or Americans, but rather other Europeans from all over the continent. Furthermore, as I progressed in my coursework so too did my language skills until I graduated to taking even my major classes at the university with other German students. Progressing in my major also allowed me to apply for a second year abroad as well, and by the end of my two year exchange I left with three semesters of Biology degree progress, my C1 Certification in the German language, and a personal invitation by the International Office to study my Master’s at the university after I graduate. In August 2018 I returned to the Bay Area, but now who knows what the future may bring.
-- Vincent E.K Jackson