The Beginning | #1

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!

4 thoughts on “The Beginning | #1

  • May 22, 2018 at 8:57 pm
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    Elizabeth, I’m so excited for you and your time in Germany! As a note about the internship, last years’ interns were published, which is something not many undergrads can say they were a part of. Although there will be a lot to get used to, I’m looking forward to hearing about the different ways you push your boundaries in learning about research, feeling like a real adult, and living in Leipzig. I’m sure similar challenges back in the States will feel much more doable after living abroad!

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  • May 24, 2018 at 6:21 pm
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    Elizabeth,

    Happy end-of-week-one! I hope you learning lots and finding the experience to be a beneficial one.

    I could not be more excited for you to have the opportunity to be listed as a co-author and to play a larger-than-expected role in the research process – what an amazing experience to be able to speak about in the future! Since it sounds like this will be one of your first research experiences, I would challenge you to think deeply and reflect throughout the process. How different is the research process from what your initial assumptions were? Could you see yourself doing this full-time? What sorts of challenges are you running into throughout the research process that you did not consider? Taking the time to intentionally reflect on some of these questions can really help you identify what you want from future research opportunities. In addition, I’d encourage you to have a conversation with Dr. Notthoff about some of these questions and her journey as well – it may help illuminate your path moving forward!

    -Josh

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  • June 11, 2018 at 8:51 pm
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    I am so glad you are enjoying your internship and time in Leipzig! I will visit in July and look forward to seeing you there! Would it be fine to post some of your photos on our Center for European Studies Facebook site?

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    • June 11, 2018 at 9:32 pm
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      Hi Gitta! Yes of course, go ahead with posting my photos. I look forward to seeing you in July!

      Reply

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