Ever wonder what it’s like to be an international student at Chapman? The Center for Global Education recently caught up with German international student, Max Weirauch ’22, to hear about his experiences.
When did you move from Germany to the United States?
I moved to San Francisco in 2017, during the second semester of my junior year of high school. It was a hard transition at first, especially academically- I was taking several AP classes, and the teachers had much different expectations of me than my teachers in Germany. There was more homework and papers than I expected. In addition, you are not allowed to use any mobile devices or computers in Germany, but here you can take your laptop anywhere, so that was different as well.
What about your transition to Chapman University? How was that experience?
I love being at Chapman. I found that there are tons of different ways to find friends and get connected to people, whether that be through clubs and organizations, residence life, your hall, or the professional staff in your building. By putting in some work and talking to people, I was able to quickly become part of the Chapman community. Through this involvement, I am going to be a Resident Advisor next year, as well as received a leadership award for Outstanding First Year student.
Speaking of clubs, I hear you started a German club on campus. What inspired you to do that?
The first week of school, I went to the club fair to where all the cultural clubs were, and found out that there was no German club. I thought Chapman needed a German club, so I decided to start one myself. I wasn’t taking any German classes that semester and didn’t really know any other German students, so I went to the professors and got their help. It took about a month to do all the administrative work, but by October the club was up and running! Everyone, from the faculty to the student organizations office, was really helpful to me in getting the club started. The club currently has between 40 and 50 active members. We have three primary pillars that we focus on. The first is helping students in the classroom, whether that be weekly study sessions or tips about professors. We also host social events with the intent of showing people the German language and culture- we did a trip to Oktoberfest as one of our activities. Finally, we try and help with professional development, and how German can play a role in that. I’d say that the first year of the club has been a huge success, and we even won this year’s “Outstanding New Organization” award!
Have you ever felt homesick? How do you stay connected with your family in Germany?
I really haven’t experienced too much homesickness. I’ve spent holidays while I’m here with friends from the area and that has helped a lot. I also FaceTime my family often to check in and talk with them.
Finally, what is some advice you have for other international students on campus?
Definitely reach out to your resources! There are so many people around that can help you, whether that be the staff at the library who can help with papers, or the resident director in your building that can connect you to residence events. Get involved as soon as possible and don’t be scared! No one else knows anyone when they start college either. Embrace your international background, people will want to meet you and hear your story. Finally, take advantage of office hours. All professors offer them and very few people actually use them. Sometimes international students can be at a disadvantage in the classroom just because they don’t know what the expectations are, so use office hours as an opportunity to connect with the professors, get help with grammar, etc.
Max was the emcee at Global Fest in November 2018 as part of International Education Week. Thank you so much Max for sharing your experiences!