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Sinja Mandel at the Lawn on D in Boston. (Image credit: Ida Sunderwall)

Penmen Abroad

From Cologne To New Hampshire

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Senior Sinja Mandel is an active international student from Cologne (Köln), Germany. She majors in Business Administration in Degree in Three (Di3) program at SNHU. Mandel grew up mainly in Ingolstadt, a town near Munich.

Mandel came to the U.S. in August, 2016 to complete her double degree at SNHU. As a Business major, it was mandatory for her to spend her fifth semester abroad. “I’m the first German student studying two terms aat SNHU and I am glad I did it,” said Mandel.

She also went to Cologne Business School before coming to SNHU. The education system in her hometown is different than the education system in the U.S. “We just have two schools in Germany—elementary school is separated and middle and high schools are combined,” said Mandel.

For Mandel, the workload in the U.S. collages are higher than collages in Germany. “I’ve a lot of short papers, blackboard discussions and presentations; basically, every week I have to do something,” said senior Mandel. “In Germany I go to class for the whole semester, and barely do anything in the first half. Then usually we have a large term paper or an exam at the end which values 100 percent.”

Although overall the academic level is quite similar in both countries, Mandel prefers the U.S. education system because it is not just based on memorization. “You need to learn everything by hard work because the exam is based on reproduction,” she said.

As much as Mandel enjoys her time in the U.S., she also misses her family, friends, the German carnival and food. “It might be cliché, but Germans really love their bread. It’s so common to eat bread at least once if not twice a day. Here you usually get sandwich bread which is very soft with less flavor in comparison,” Mandel explained.

The Annual Karneval (carnival) is one of Cologne’s biggest celebrations of the year which starts on Fat Thursday and continues until Ash Wednesday. Mostly people from the South celebrate the carnival.

At the days of the carnival, Mandel dresses up in her favorite costumes, gets breakfast with her friends and goes to different areas in the city to watch various parades.

“Every day, each section of the city has its own parade, so we used to go every day to different parades,” said Mandel. “The kids are collecting a lot of candies which they throw off the wagons during the parade. I used to do that too when I was smaller. It was a blast! The best time of the year.”

Another thing she loves about her hometown is the people. “When I first moved to Cologne, I used to use Google Maps a lot to find my way around, but people immediately started offering help and directed me where I needed to go,” said Mandel.

Mandel also likes to travel and experience different parts of the world. She traveled to South Africa after her high school graduation for a volunteer work.

She suggests SNHU students to broaden their horizon and challenge themselves to meet people with different backgrounds, race and ethnicity.

“You can learn a lot by simply talking to different people. It might help you change your views on certain things,” suggested Mandel. “Maybe you are going to make really good friends with students from different parts of the world that you might want to visit someday.”