Associate Features Editor
Greta Huber is a Sophomore at Millersville University who is currently quarantining in her dorm room at The Philipps University of Marburg in Germany. She began her study abroad adventure when she arrived on Feb. 18 with not the slightest worry that she would be getting sent back a month later. “I really thought Corona was gonna blow over in two weeks. Nobody thought it was going to escalate. It didn’t even cross my mind that it was an option to get sent home.”
She decided to arrive a day early to allow herself to figure out international airports and public transportation. “I remember I got off the plane at 8 a.m. CEST and I was so lost and I called my mom at 2 a.m. EST.” Huber was worried she was going to get on the wrong train to Marburg and her mom responded with tough love as she wished her luck and hung up the phone.
“I did get on a random train, but it did take me to the right stop in the right town,” says Huber. Two trains later she arrived in Marburg, after only getting slightly lost for an hour, since her train ticket was simply all numbers.
Huber says she’s wanted to study abroad for a while now. “I’ve wanted to ever since middle school . . . I’ve always enjoyed going to Germany, I’m used to the area . . . I just really like it, it’s just always been part of the plan.”
Her love of cities and her family in Frankfurt have allowed her to find herself back in this country four other times. She especially loves visiting Munich and Germany’s capital Berlin. Huber was eager to learn more of the German language and the country’s culture through her classes abroad.
She decided to stay her first night in a hostile. It was her first time staying in a room with three other complete strangers. Coincidentally one of those strangers ended up being a girl in her same program who had just arrived as well. The next day the two of them took a bus to their new University where they hoped to be studying for the next four months. Little did they know that classes would be pushed back to April 20 and the students are currently awaiting the University’s decision to see if they will be able to take online classes and complete the rest of their semester in Marburg.
Huber and her friend were driven to their dorms by students who had arrived in Germany a few months before and gave them a tour of their new living arrangements. Huber is currently among four others all in separate rooms, who were allowed to continue their study abroad for the time being. Millersville required Huber to sign a waiver to stay that said she would “assume responsibility for her own health, well-being, and safety.” Since Huber is paying for this study abroad experience out of her own pocket, she happily agreed.
As of today, April 12, 2020, Germany currently has 125,452 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and has been increasingly taking precautions to protect its citizens from the virus as best they can. Schools have been closing all across the country and Huber explains that restaurants and bars now have strict curfews of 8 p.m. Transportation has also become more limited, and certain German states have closed their borders. Bus drivers are also letting people ride for free to avoid as much contact with others as possible and bank lines are longer than ever with everyone remaining six feet apart.
Huber describes what a typical day is like for her in Germany, “I still have online classes everyday and so I wake up, make some eggs, I have class for like an hour and a half. I sometimes go grocery shopping or go on a run or go see my friends who are in the other dorms. They don’t limit you walking around, it’s just things won’t be open at a certain time.”
While the pandemic has affected her study abroad experience, she is still making the most of it. “When I heard about this pandemic I was like okay I have to go everywhere before they shut down all the busses and trains, but we’re still having a good time,” she says.
According to Huber, many students are already planning to return to Germany next semester. “I feel like we’ve been planning this for over a year; to make a decision to come back is crazy. They’re seniors here and they’re really mad,” she says.
One month and almost four weeks later, Huber has embraced this experience with open arms. “I definitely learned how to be more independent. You learn a lot about yourself just being on your own. I feel like you really can’t get that experience any other way,” she says.
Even though Millersville and her parents did prefer Hurber to return home, she is still scheduled to fly back to the U.S. in June as previously planned. She still receives daily emails from the German embassy stating, “If I really need to go home and the virus is really bad, then the German military will help me get home,” says Huber.
At the moment Huber isn’t completely sure if she’s staying for the rest of her study abroad. The Philipps University of Marburg will decide if they’re going to be letting her take online classes starting next week. If she were to return home, Huber plans to work with Millersville to continue her education through independent studies.