Eight months is a long time to be a young man away from home, alone in a foreign country. But for Dean Gandley, a history and political science major studying abroad in Bremen, Germany, it’s been the opportunity of a lifetime.
“This year is a great year to come to Germany for someone who studies history and politics,” said Gandley, a junior honors student at SJC Long Island. “On Oct. 31, it will be the 500th anniversary of Luther nailing his theses on the doors of the Wittenburg Cathedral, and I will be (there). Oct. 3 is German Unity Day, the day when both West and East Germany were united into one country. And this year is also the German Federal Election, so I get to see how the election is carried out in another country.”
As someone who prefers European history to American history, visiting Europe has always been a dream of his, Gandley said.
“It has always been more interesting to me to learn about the Reconquista, the (Protestant) reformation or the history of Ireland, compared to the Civil War, or general American history,” said Gandley, who also had the chance to visit Iceland this past summer with SJC’s honors program.
Because of his interests in the Protestant reformation and Germany politics, Gandley approached SJC Long Island’s Coordinator of Global Studies Linda Lubranski to discuss which universities in Germany he could attend for a semester to study these topics.
“I decided to go to the University of Bremen, located in Northern Germany,” said the 20-year-old from Rocky Point, New York. “I was able to get in contact with faculty from the university, and they were able to help me through the process of applying to the university for the winter semester, which runs from October to February.”
But Gandley decided to head to Germany in July in order to take courses to learn the language, turning his semester abroad into an eight-month journey. It’s also given him more time to appreciate the culture and people.
“Coming to Germany has introduced me to different people and cultures from around the world,” he said. “In my German language class, there are people from Tunisia, Argentina, Nigeria and other parts of the world, each with a different view of politics, economics and social policies.”
During his time in Germany, Gandley has already visited Berlin, where he was able to see a section of the Berlin Wall and other monuments — it happens to be his favorite part of his trip, so far. He noted that this may change soon, as he will be visiting Munich, and Dublin and Galway in Ireland.
“For anyone that wants to study abroad, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to do all the paperwork, and do not be afraid to go,” Gandley said.