When Lorena Stockenhofen decided to spend a year abroad at the Southern Oregon University in Ashland in her third semester, her goal was to spend a year full of experiences on-site. Two years later, the student of the bachelor's programme "International Tourism Studies" started studying remotely in the USA.
The Corona pandemic has changed many students' plans - including Lorena Stockenhofen's. "When I was in school, I went on a student exchange to the United States. It was already clear to me then that I would like to live there for a longer period of time later on." For this reason, the 23-year-old decided to study International Tourism Studies at Harz University of Applied Sciences, which includes studying for two semesters at a university abroad and completing an internship abroad.
After the first few semesters in Wernigerode, it was time to apply for a visa, book a flight, pack her suitcase and take off. But things turned out differently for Lorena. Due to the pandemic, she had to start her year abroad from home: "I decided on the 'remote' version. This means that I was connected live to the students from the U.S." When asked about the time difference, the Limburg native laughed, "Because of the nine-hour time difference, I studied mostly at night. My lectures went from 5.30 p.m. to midnight. Afterwards, we often worked on group projects until 4 a.m." Despite this extraordinary situation, Stockenhofen achieved a grade point average of 4.0 and was recognized for this great academic achievement via the "President's List". This list recognizes outstanding students in the United States. They are mentioned by name and thus stand out from the crowd of students.
After two trimesters of studying remotely, the prospective tourism expert finally got to travel to the U.S. in the fall of 2021 and study on-site. "I really enjoyed this time and lived a picture-perfect college life there." Before that, Lorena was already involved in the student government meetings as an international senator. Through this, as well as group work online, she made friends even before she arrived and was able to start her everyday university life right away with familiar faces. "Of course, it was a special time to study at night from my teenage room, but for that I didn't feel like I was alone when I arrived in the U.S.," the tourism student reports. On the contrary, she already spent Thanksgiving with friends at their American family's home and in November she went camping with a group in eastern Oregon and visited the Painted Hills and Crater Lake. "Because I was only there for one trimester, I wanted to do all the recreational activities."
Back in Germany, the 23-year-old wrote her bachelor's thesis on wildlife tourism - we wonder if she was inspired by her camping trip? "I was already interested in this type of tourism in the Harz mountains. The decision to write my bachelor's thesis on this topic was made when I attended lectures on it in the U.S." This summer, she plans to travel back to the U.S. for the Graduation Ceremony and visit other parts of Oregon. "It didn't go as planned, but the bottom line is that I had a really great time and I'm grateful for the experience," beams the prospective tourism expert.