German exchange student conquers Allegheny


Hageneier in Pittsburgh over Fall break.

Lisa Hageneier poses for the traditional student photo by the Allegheny College sign, a must-do for all international students during their time here.

When I first applied to come to Allegheny about a year ago I was more than excited to hop across the big pond and experience life in America. I would describe myself as adventurous, curious and probably a little crazy and my decision to come over here was probably slightly influenced by the good food, all the cool places I could go to and of course the shopping opportunities.

Everything happens so fast you have no time to turn around and go back. After I was accepted I had to quit my job, find a person who would live in my apartment while I’m gone, find insurance that covers everything, move my stuff out of my apartment and back into my mum’s house (trying hard not to kill her during the four weeks I had to spent there).

Finally the day arrived when I got to leave Germany and start my adventure. Saying goodbye is never fun. A lot of tears, hugs, more tears, kisses and even more tears. I felt unbelievably sad but I was also really excited to finally meet all the people at Allegheny I had emailed all summer. Tax and duty-free shopping kind of distracted me from any negative feelings; it emptied my wallet but warmed my heart. Once I was through the security control at the airport everything changed.

I boarded the airplane, found my seat and opened my little pillow, a blanket and the nice little present which included earplugs, headphones and a sleeping mask. Finding my favorite TV show on the airplane’s entertainment program made me really happy, but it was also a sharp reminder of everything I was leaving behind for the next four months.

I sat down and cried even more. Why am I doing this? Why am I leaving all the people I love behind? Why was I given the seat next to the toilet and why am I even going to the U.S.? I don’t even like this country – the people are overweight and way too patriotic (in my emotional state I could not see past stereotypes). I convinced myself that this semester was going to be the end and I would never get a chance to return to Germany. About 13 hours later I arrived at Allegheny… and found my happy place.

In the two months I’ve spent at the college so far I’ve learned a lot. Having a name and not being just a number makes me more than happy. Having teachers I can talk to whenever I need to and who reply to emails within hours instead of weeks makes things so easy for me.

There are days when I come home and just curl up in my bed, exhausted, and others when I received good critique and I shout at my roommates “give me two weeks and I’ll be the president of the college!”

I can’t believe in 80 days I’ll be gone and flying back to Germany. I don’t know how time has passed so quickly! Sure I miss my family and my boyfriend a lot (I only write this because I know he is reading this) but I’ve met amazing people in Meadville and I don’t want to think about the day I have to leave. Especially the two amazing women living in my apartment. They are not just my roommates but my girlfriends, my party people, my family! We do not only share an apartment but also joy, happiness, stressful study nights and sometimes also sadness. I cannot imagine having to go back yet. Once a Gator – always a Gator!