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carlos burse, germany, 2010-2011

Fulbright Year: 2010-2011
Country: Germany
Proposal Type: English Teaching Assistant
UGA Undergraduate Majors: German, Germanic and Slavic Languages
Graduation Date: May 2010
Hometown: Roswell, GA

During his Fulbright year in Germany, Carlos Burse says he learned just as much outside the classroom as he did inside.

“I concentrated my efforts on learning more about youth pop culture in Germany and the ‘German’ persona, a few of the things you can’t learn in the classroom,” he says. “Of course teaching, using and improving my German, and traveling were part of my year abroad as an ETA, but I most enjoyed gaining an understanding of the German people – that is what is considered typically German and how are these characteristics present in Germans of different ages and from different regions of the country.”

As is often the case with American students abroad, Carlos came to fully appreciate his home country and heard plenty of discussions – pro and con – about the United States.

“My Fulbright year made me a lot more aware of what it is to be an American,” he says. “I learned what people of other countries thought about Americans and what they expected of our country. Interestingly I also became aware of how much I take for granted, thinking that my suburban life in Georgia was the norm, nothing out of the ordinary, when in fact the life I live is extraordinary, comparatively.

“There was so much that I learned while working as an ETA in Germany, but I think that my newly discovered insights about the U.S., the perceptions about America(ns), and my life at home rank among the most noteworthy, to me at least, as I went to Germany with the expectation to teach others about America, not to learn about America myself; for me it was an interesting and unexpected surprise.”

In terms of memorable moments, Carlos says he’ll not soon forget his participation in a conference, where he spent a week with fellow students, who shared his passion for language.

“My favorite memory from my Fulbright year would have to be the Berlin Conference,” he says. “All of the American teaching assistants throughout Germany (and a few other countries in Europe) gathered in late March for a one-week conference in the heart of Berlin. Something about being around my peers, some of the most intelligent and capable scholars of German in the country, was refreshing. For once I was able to discuss my specific interests of the language without feeling like a nerd.

“It was a really comfortable and enlightening experience. I think there is something to be said about the experience of meeting and discussing with driven, like-minded individuals who have similar interests and goals to your own.”

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