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Studied in Munich: Steven Montero

Why I decided to study abroad in Germany is an easy question to answer.

I started learning German in school and decided during my Bachelor studies that I wanted to improve my language skills. Off I went on a year-long adventure to Munich. Many of my classmates thought that was too long to be abroad, that I would miss out on so much of my American college experience.
My year in Germany turned out to be the best year of my college career -- and the cheapest.
Studying at the LMU I met incredible people with international backgrounds and passions I had never heard of before. I fell in love with what would become my second home -- something even my college campus failed to do the two years I lived there. I took courses at the university that expanded my knowledge of the city, its complex history, unique culture and commitment to art. Die Traumstadt der Deutschen -- the dream city of the Germans. If the architecture doesn’t delight you, the natural beauty will.
Munich is a vibrant, million-person village. You run into friends on the streets, in cafes, on the train. I was lucky enough to live in the Studentenstadt -- the student city -- home to more than 1,000 students at any given time and a community with restaurants, bars and even a bakery. That was only ten minutes away from the city center with the subway.

My studies at LMU were challenging but my German proficiency exploded.
With each week I was speaking more like a local. True immersion is the best way to learn a language, and Munich offers this luxury. I witnessed a different educational system and standard, which taught me how to critique yet also appreciate aspects of their American counterparts. Getting hands on within one of my majors -- twentieth century history -- materialized: A course about Jews in Hitler’s Munich, in which we went into the city archives and sifted through crates of handwritten letters, telegraphs and newspaper clippings from the Nazi era. A truly unique experience I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else.
What I can’t forget to mention is the genuine opportunity Munich and Germany provide as a springboard to the rest of Europe.
I traveled many places in my free time and during the semester break -- a two month trek down through Istanbul to Marrakech, finding my way through Paris before hopping on an early morning flight to arrive in the nick of time for my first class of the new semester. Living in Munich and that trip emboldened me. Fear of the unknown and the uncertain vanished while my planning and self-reliance improved.

The more difficult question to answer is what made me want to come back. People want a precise, one-sentence response when they prompt me. As if a year’s experience could be printed on the back of postcard. But it will never be that easy. Just as in writing this overview I had to cherry pick and generalize moments that invigorated my spirit. But I suppose an answer in the right direction is the plain reality of the matter: I came back.
I came back after earning my Bachelors with the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals program. I studied in Cologne and Hamburg and then did an internship with which would eventually lead to a job when I decided to come back yet again after that program ended. Germany is my new home, and I can’t imagine my life anywhere else for right now.
But it all began, with that easy question. Should you go?

Steven Montero studied at LMU Munich within the Lewis & Clark Year of Study in Munich Program. After his study abroad, he returned as a CBYX fellow for another year before making Germany his permanent home. Steven currently works and lives in Hamburg.

Annabell Tuerk