I just finished the first week of my internship in Leipzig, Germany, and I feel like I’ve already learned so much. I’ve been here for about ten days and feel pretty settled in, but I’m still learning my way around. My life here looks completely different from anything in the States, from figuring out the public transportation system, attempting to speak the language, and being an almost-fully functioning adult in a foreign country.
I’m interning as a research assistant under Michigan alum and psychologist Dr. Nanna Notthoff for the next three months at Leipzig University. The research focuses on physical activity awareness and perceptions, especially among older adults. It combines my interests of psychology, research, and public health, and I really wanted a hands-on experience with psychology research. This week, I’ve been catching up on past research in the field, becoming more familiar with the research process, and I’ve even started to write parts of the next research paper! I was taken by surprise when I learned I’d be a co-author; I had relatively low expectations for my role in the research lab. In the next 11 weeks, I hope to learn as much as I can from Nanna about research, psychology, and everything involved with the process. Since I don’t have any previous research experience and I only have one year of college under my belt, this work feels pretty unfamiliar to me. Although I feel a bit out of place, I know that perseverance and reaching out for help will help me grow as a student and professional for future endeavors.
In addition to the wonderful internship opportunity, I was drawn to living in a foreign country. It’s definitely an adjustment so far, but I really love it here in Leipzig. It’s warm, inviting, and feels like home already. I’m becoming more comfortable with being uncomfortable every day, especially with the language and culture differences. Leipzig was a part of East Germany after WWII and under Soviet regime, so most people here know Russian instead of English. Although this makes communication much more difficult, I love learning about the rich history and culture of the city. I’m hoping to soak up everything here for the next eleven weeks!