“Wo ist das?”
(Where is that?)
Fulbright Scholar Sarah Wagner of Trier, Germany, was asked this question a lot – in German – by family and friends when she told them where she was going for school.
They had heard of New York and Los Angeles because of the movies. But not Omaha, Neb.
Sarah herself didn’t know what to expect as she left her homeland to study for a year at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
She had heard the stereotypes – “There is indeed a lot of corn,” she says – but her experience at Nebraska surprised her.
“The biggest surprise was how welcoming the campus and Omaha community was,” she says. “I did not expect to be greeted with such open arms and interest, to be honest.”
In Germany, she says, the relationship between a professor and a student is hierarchical and formal.
But the kindness of the staff and faculty at UNO was surprising. At UNO, her professors were supportive and stopped to talk to her in the halls.
“This created a very good atmosphere in class and on campus – something Germany could learn from.”
The political science major says a critical factor that influenced her to study in the master’s program at UNO was its Center for Afghanistan Studies – a center that is focused solely on research and education related to Afghanistan. It’s considered the top center of its kind in the country.
“The selection of political science classes offered at UNO was very appealing since it covered a broad range of topics,” she says.
In the future, Sarah wants to work in a job with NATO or the German Foreign Service. She wants to help in the interactions between the United States and Germany.
During her year in Omaha, Sarah attended rodeos. She watched bull riding, roping and barrel racing – something that she had only seen on TV.
“I have always enjoyed country music,” she says. “So the chance to go to a real life rodeo was something I could not pass up on, especially because it was followed by a country concert.”
Sarah cheered from the stands for the Maverick hockey team. She ate her first Runza.
The Fulbright scholarship, she says, was the only way she could afford to live in the United States for almost a year. She returned to Germany this past May.
And she made many Nebraska friends along the way.
“I had thought of the American Heartland as another cliché,” she says. “Yet I found people in Omaha incredibly caring, supporting and always ready to help.
“Before you know it, you will find it very difficult to leave a beautiful place like Nebraska.”
Global engagement is one of the top priorities of the Campaign for Nebraska. Besides sending Nebraska students to study abroad, global engagement also means helping the best and brightest foreign students like Sarah come to Nebraska, which enhances the educational experiences of all students. If you’d like to contribute to this effort, please consider giving online or contact the University of Nebraska Foundation at 800-432-3216.