Matthias Göring at Costal Carolina University, Conway, USA

I finally did what I've always wanted to do. I spent one semester abroad in the US and studied at our partner university in South Carolina.

You might wonder why in the world did this guy decide to study in the US? What can this country offer to a student from Europe? What is so special about the US, a country governed by President George W. Bush, a country that has a governor who used to be an action movie star? You can legally acquire your driver's license at the age of sixteen years but drinking is prohibited until you are twenty-one. Thoughts like these might be on your minds when thinking of the United States of America.

But let me tell you a little bit about my experiences and the United States how I perceived them. Alright, this is how it all started: In 2003, I participated in the Summer School Project which is a joint cooperation between RheinAhrCampus, FH Bonn-Rhein-Sieg, and Coastal Carolina University, SC, USA.

For those who aren't familiar with the details, let me shortly tell you what the Summer School Project is about. As a first step, American students come to Germany for three weeks and attend lectures at RheinAhrCampus and FH Bonn-Rhein-Sieg. They live in host families, either with their assigned buddies (German students that take care of them during their stay in Germany) or with internationally interested families who live close to FH Bonn-Rhein-Sieg. In their spare time, the Summer School participants go on excursions to Cologne and various other places to get to know each other.

As a second step, the German students travel to the US and attend regular classes at Coastal Carolina University ( during the first three weeks of the fall semester. The German students live on-campus in dormitories (dorms). They share their rooms with full time Coastal students. In their leisure time, they go on excursions to various places situated in SC. Among other things, they go on a one day trip to Charleston, go to Brook Green Gardens and go to the beach.

Well, to keep a long story short, since I enjoyed my first stay at Coastal so much, I decided to come back for a whole semester, which sounds easier than it really was. In order to be accepted at Coastal, I had to pass the Toefl (Test of English as a Foreign Language), figure out how to finance this semester, go to the American Consulate in Frankfurt a. M. to apply for my visa, and communicate with Mr. Parsons who is the head of the Office of International Programs at Coastal. There was plenty of work to do but thanks to the great support of the Department of Sprachen/Internationales at RheinAhrCampus, I finally made it back to Coastal in the middle of August 2004.

One year after my first visit to Coastal I arrived at Myrtle Beach Airport together with my friend, last year's Summer School participant Sascha Lehmacher. Frankly, since we already knew Coastal, and because of the fact that we already had a circle of friends there, things were a little easier for us than for somebody who is totally unaccustomed to the way things go at a US university. But still, things weren't as easy as the year before.

In contrast to the year before, I was a regular student and not just a three week visitor. I had to study hard and it took a while getting used to "the American way of studying" again. But please don't get me wrong!!! I don't wanna complain about it. To be honest, I like the American system much more than the German system. Your final grade is not just based on one single exam or one single presentation or one single paper but it is based on several differently weighted parts: Attendance, participation, written assignments, written exams, group projects and things of that nature all go into one's final grade.

I shared an apartment with an American student. We were best friends, at least for the time being at Coastal… Michael - that's the name of my roommate - and I spent a lot of time together. He even invited me to spend Thanksgiving with him and his family. That's one of the experiences that I will probably never forget. From what I found out about Thanksgiving, it is pretty much like Christmas before Christmas without Christmas presents.

Therefore, the main thing we did was eat, eat and eat. It was great getting some "real food". The Commons Food (Commons is the name of the main dining hall at Coastal) wasn't that good… But if you decide to study in the US, you shouldn't expect to live healthy, at least if you live on campus and eat the things offered in the dining facilities.

Well, there's one more thing. We also went shopping. The "After-Thanksgiving-Sale" is the best opportunity to get high quality items for a low price. My roommate, his mom and I got up at 4:30 am to make it in time to the nearby shopping mall. The Americans went nuts!!! In order to get the good deals you had to get up very early. At this special day, the mall opened earlier than normally. I didn't believe my eyes when I saw people fighting for items "on sale" at five in the morning. Anyway, Mrs. King (Michael's mom) was convinced that I couldn't leave the US without having seen this extraordinary event. I'm glad that I joined her. I got some very good deals, hehehe.

Anyway, I took five classes during my time at Coastal. I attended Introduction to World Politics, Cross-Cultural Management, Marketing, Introductory Italian, and Weight Training and Body Dynamics.

One of my favorite courses was Cross-Cultural Management, taught by Dr. Domke-Damonte. She is in charge of the International Programs between Coastal and its partner institutions. Her class was really interesting and I learned a lot about the role culture plays in society and in business situations. Her class was very time-consuming and I had to study a lot for it but I don't regret enrolling for her class at all because I always had the feeling that the things I learned would be useful for me if I want to work in an international environment and that's exactly what I want to do after my graduation!

Just to give you an idea of the workload for her class, let me specify what I had to do for her course. All together, I had to hand in eight papers, write two exams (a so-called mid-term and a final, essay questions - no multiple choice questions), and work on a group project with two American students. Active participation was also an important part of this course. As you can see, much more work than you might have expected. I forgot to mention all the reading which was a substantial part of this class, as well as most of the other courses I attended. I gotta admit that this course was mainly taken by students who were about to graduate which explains the high level.

I guess you can imagine that time passed by very quickly due to the fact that I had a marvelous time at Coastal. Finally, I would like to thank all the people who supported me before, during, and after my semester at Coastal. Thanks a million to Team Sprachen Internationales (Barbara, Andreas, and Laurence), Mr. Parsons, Dr. Darla Domke-Damonte, Michael King (the best roommate ever!!!), Jack Deal, and all the others who became very good friends during my stay in the US!!!!!

By Matthias Göring

If you got any questions concerning this report, or even better consider coming to Coastal as well, please feel free to contact me. ‘Sprachen Internationales’ will know how to contact me.