Global Studies profiles of AMS students:
The Global Stride program
allows to apply their stipends
toward study-abroad costs or intensive language programs.
As part of the Global Stride scholarship, the fellows interviewed
and profiled international students in the college’s graduate
program in American Studies, to help familiarize them with
people who have made cultural transitions.
The Gate is publishing
their profiles in an occasional series.
Adrienne Horne'14, Global Stride Fellow
Hanna Goetze GR, American
Studies Diploma program
Once upon a time, Hanna Goetze,
a graduate student in the American Studies Diploma Program,
was enjoying the scenic views and rolling hills in her small
village of Sarbuettel, Germany. She appreciated the varying
landscape, the cow farms speckling the country side, and
the natural beauty of the willow trees. And whenever the
welcomed seclusion became confining isolation, Hanna and
her mother could make the one-hour drive to Hamburg and enjoy
a day of shopping and concerts.
Now, on a brisk morning
in Northampton, Massachusetts, Hanna finds herself sitting
on the cool stone steps of Smith’s
Neilson Library. Hanna
has spent the past few months writing papers,
bonding with fellow students, and
further acquainting herself with Smith.
Channeling a blend of European
chic and American trends, she fits perfectly with
Not until her German accent bubbles
a quick, “Hello,
I’m Hanna!” would one suspect she was from anywhere
other than Northampton.
“I thought it would be a good
way to deepen my knowledge and explore different things that
I could not take in Germany,” Hanna says of her decision
to enroll in Smith's American Studies Program, which encourages
foreign students to apply for an exchange semester here.
In Germany, Hanna explains, there are many required courses
in set disciplines. But here “you can mix it up. You can
take film classes or something—or
politics. It’s different, so that’s what I wanted to do.”
The atmosphere in American classrooms “is
very different from Germany,” Hanna
more encouraged to say something in class and participate.
In Germany, you can just sit there and chill and just wait
until it’s all over." She laughs, then adds, "here you have
to say something.”
As a result, people
feel less self-conscious, and it's easier to
speak up in class, she says—not what she
expected at an American institution. “I thought
it might be more...not ‘uptight,’ but...that you have
to say super-smart things. It’s really not
that way.” She laughs again.
Hanna finds that there is more pressure in terms of workload. “I
think here, your studies consume you more, but not in a bad
way.” In Germany,
she was accustomed to the European norm of taking four
or five classes that each met once a week. Here, she finds
that she is “constantly” reading and
Also, there are differences
in the level of student involvement on campus. Hanna
has noticed that most people at Smith are involved in one
or more social activity. In Germany, she notes, there are
very few extra-curricular activities and social lives are
kept separate from the university.
Life in America is
also much different from that in Germany, she says a bit
kind of, like, cultureless.” She quickly adds, "I don’t
mean that [in a bad way]! But because it’s so young
it doesn’t really have a long history. It’s kind of like:
Okay, people came over here, we had to do something with
the land, so we just put up some houses and established some
know? And in Germany, there’s definitely
more historic background.”
Certainly, there are many differences
between Germany and America, the University of Hamburg and
Smith. But like any other college student in the world,
Hanna has been thinking a lot about the future. She
hopes that the American Studies Diploma Program will not
only improve her language and understanding of American culture,
but also open her up to the world of networking with Smithies.
After she returns home and finishes
her studies in Germany, she is required to complete an internship
as part of her degree, and she is considering interior
design or film. “When I’m done with
everything, I have to pick a job,” Hanna laughs. She has
no idea yet what that might be. "We'll see," she says, ready
for any and every adventure.