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Cat Fergesen

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Cat Fergesen at the Spree River in Berlin

Cat Fergesen - Stanford in Berlin

Major: Computer Science
Minor: Archaeology
College year while abroad: Junior
About the photo: Appreciating the Spree!

Questions and Answers with Cat

Why did you choose to study abroad in Berlin?

I was hoping to find the intersection between my interests in computer science, archaeology, and biology, and I heard that Germany was the best place for that. I also heard that Berlin is a hub of the experimental object theatre and puppetry scene, and I was excited to have the chance to see that in person!

What were your expectations before you went and how did those change once you arrived in Berlin?

I had very little German exposure prior to coming to Berlin, and I was worried that this would really hinder my experiences there. In reality, I felt very comfortable practicing my German in Berlin and quickly progressed in my language skills, but I also never felt overly anxious about not being understood in case I didn't have enough German to fully express myself.

What were some of the academic benefits from studying abroad in Berlin?

I would like to work in Germany or Switzerland in the future, and getting to study German while having constant daily opportunities to practice really improved my confidence and my skills as a German speaker.

What did you learn about yourself while you were studying abroad?

I learned how independent I can really be and was able to really envision myself living and working outside of the United States.

What was the most challenging experience you encountered while you were abroad and what did you learn from it?

Taking late night classes while living much further from the classroom that I would at Stanford was a huge challenge. It taught me that in the future, I need to structure my academic schedule in a way that also supports healthy sleep and eating habits.

What was the biggest cultural adjustment you had to make?

Having to be okay with elderly women in grocery stores absolutely mowing you down. No one is safe on Saturday nights in the Edeka.

What was your favorite part of your everyday life in Berlin?

I loved looking out my window every morning, seeing the city come to life, and knowing that in a few moments (if I didn't want to miss my 9:30am class) I would also be swept into their comforting hustle and bustle.

What was the most memorable experience you had while you were in Berlin?

I was in Berlin at the same time as the Theatre der Dinge festival at the Schaubüde, where I was able to catch a lot of object theatre performances that were really unique! I even got to drag many of my cohort-mates along to a few performances and enjoy some of the most out-there post-dramatische theatre that Berlin has to offer with some new friends.

What 5 words would you use to describe your experience?


What was your favorite food you had in Berlin?

Absolutely anything at all the combination sushi/pho/curry/lo mein restaurants

What was the most valuable item you took with you on the program?

My scarf! It was knit for me by my sister over a decade ago, and it kept me very warm and also was a little piece of home. I also may or may not have accidentally dropped it at Kottbusser Tor in the middle of the night, and the story that ensued was one that I will be pulling out at parties for the rest of my life.

What was your favorite music/band that you discovered in Berlin?