Student with partner and dog at the beach

Year abroad changes life plans

Student emigrates to South America

In the summer of 2019, Friederike Sucker headed off with her two suitcases on a surfing trip to the south of France, organised by the student association “Sportfreunde”. From there, as a student on the International Tourism Studies bachelor’s degree programme she headed directly to Tenerife, where she spent a year abroad at our partner university in La Laguna. Since then, the 23-year-old has continued on with her two suitcases, as well as a new travelling companion in the shape of her adopted dog Cali!

Every dog has its day

“The university consistently expected us to show individual initiative. We had to be open and bold, go up to people and ask questions. My Spanish skills therefore improved quickly and I developed on a personal level”, the Merseburg native explains.

She also used these skills in her leisure time: the budding tourism specialist took surfing lessons and walked dogs for the animal shelter. “That’s where I fell in love with my dog Cali”, she enthuses. However, the two did not have an auspicious start: “Cali had heartworm. I could not leave her behind in the animal shelter, so I did all I could to adopt her.” And so, after just two months in Tenerife, Sucker became a dog owner.

What sounded like a perfect stay abroad quickly changed when the coronavirus pandemic hit. “Shortly before lectures came to an end, I had to decide what to do next. But one thing was clear: going back to Germany without Cali was not an option”, the student explains.

The perfect wave

Friederike therefore began her Harz University of Applied Sciences bachelor’s work placement at a finca and moved there with Cali. “It also had a perfect surfing beach. Alongside work, I spent a lot of time there”, she notes. Because Friederike has also continued her second hobby – which turned out to be fortunate! By chance, Alonso approached her while she was out on the water. He is Chilean and worked in Tenerife as a civil engineer. A chat about the perfect wave became a friendship, and ultimately a relationship.

If not now, when?

However, their fledgling happiness was soon put to the test. Alonso's visa expired, and in February 2021 he had to go back to his home country. To Sucker, things were clear: “I had nothing to lose. Either I could start to build a life for myself in Germany, or emigrate to Chile”. She travelled to join him in March – with Cali at her side, of course: “We now live together in Viña del Mar, and it was the best decision I could have made.”

In the spring of 2022 she is heading back to the Canary Islands, this time with Cali and Alonso in tow. The young couple are hoping to open a surfing start-up in Tenerife, but first the double degree student will be writing her bachelor thesis in South America. And what else could the topic be but “Surfing Tourism in Tenerife”?

Author: Anna-Lena Schou
Image author: © Friederike Sucker
Image rights: © Friederike Sucker