German Students ‘Lernen’ At Transy

by Martha Stephens

First-years Kim Pescher, Matthaus Huelse and Isabell Erdtmann opt to study at Transylvania for all four years of college.They’ve traveled thousands of miles, crossed an ocean and left friends and family far behind in their native Germany, yet Isabell Erdtmann, Kim Pescher and Matthaus Huelse feel right at home at Transylvania.

Maybe it’s the people, who Erdtmann describes as warm and friendly.

Or maybe it’s the small class sizes that allow for the free exchange of ideas and cultures, as Pescher suggests.

Or maybe still it’s the vibrant surroundings, as Huelse points out: a picturesque campus in the heart of a city filled with new experiences.

Better yet, maybe it’s all three of these things – and more – that brought the young adventurers to a small liberal arts college in Kentucky with a name people are more inclined to associate with vampires than with a university.

“I visited here on a two-day trip with my family. We loved it so much that we ended up staying for a week!” Erdtmann exclaimed.

These students from Germany are all first-years and plan to attend Transy for the full four years instead of merely exchanging schools for one academic year. Looking at universities outside of their own country is not something many high school graduates do.

When asked what made her look at schools in the United States, Erdtmann replied that she did it for career reasons: “I’m interested in business and [I] wanted a school in the U.S. because this country is good for economics.”

Huelse said he wants to study science, and the universal language for science is English. Both Huelse and Pescher said that they mainly wished to see something of the world and experience new things.

They all decided on Transy in different ways. Pescher and Erdtmann are from the same area in Germany and knew each other. Pescher said that he was influenced by Erdtmann, who had visited Lexington and loved it. Huelse already knew a Transy student and felt that the school could be a good fit for him.

All three students agree that there are a number of differences between American and German colleges. Erdtmann mentioned that the majority of schools in Germany are public, with lecture-style classes containing 300 or more people. She thought that was just too many students and she didn’t like the system of choosing a major before even setting foot on a campus. Pescher mentioned that when you do choose a major, it is extremely specific, focusing only on that one subject. He said he likes the idea of a liberal arts education where he can learn outside of his main discipline.

Huelse, Erdtmann and Pescher also said that learning the English language was not a problem for them.

“I like languages; I pick them up well,” Huelse replied. Turns out, he knows five languages: German, English, Polish, Spanish and Latin.

Erdtmann said that in Germany, students must take English starting in fifth grade. “By the time we are ready for college, we already have been learning English for at least eight years. So it is not hard to actually have to use it,” Pescher explained.

When asked whether they would remain in America after graduation, the students had various answers.
Since Pescher and Huelse are both here on visas, they would have to return to Germany unless they began working here.

“I want to spend no longer than four years on each continent,” Huelse declared.

Pescher agreed: “I would really like to travel some more and see different things.”

Erdtmann, on the other hand, is a permanent resident and is unsure of what she wants to do next. “I may stay here. It really depends on my family because I do not want to always live away from them.”

“I do enjoy it here. I like how different it is and I like the people,” Pescher said. All three have expressed interest in founding an International Club for the school so that every student can have the chance to learn more about different countries.

“This is something that would be fun and interesting for everyone,” Pescher said, stating his desire to become involved.

Erdtmann enjoys college, saying she “[loves] Lexington. There is so much to do and see and the people are great!”


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