Matthew Asada Berlin

Turning Your Study Abroad Experience into a Career

Matthew Asada, University of Pennsylvania '02

My BCGS study abroad experience paved the way for my return the following summer to work as an EMGIP fellow in the German parliament and my graduate studies at the London School of Economics in European Politics.

My 2001 Spring Semester abroad with the Berlin Consortium for German Studies (BCGS) was an invaluable part of my undergraduate education and diplomatic journey.

BCGS provides its students with a great support network to facilitate the transition from an American to a German education system: an organized home stay, language classes, a cultural immersion program, mentoring and tutoring resources, and a program office complete with modern teaching and learning facilities. While based at the Free University, students are able to attend courses at any of the three universities in Berlin; I took my courses at the Humboldt University. Reading, writing and speaking in German about Prussian architecture, German literature, democratic theory and Cold War history alongside German students was challenging; however, immensely rewarding. I especially enjoyed the opportunity to conduct primary research in German on a topic, the German response to Sputnik, which would serve as the basis for my senior thesis.

My BCGS study abroad experience paved the way for my return the following summer to work as an EMGIP fellow in the German parliament and my graduate studies at the London School of Economics in European Politics.

I credit my experiences in Germany as one of the reasons for my acceptance to the United States Foreign Service. I began my career in Lahore, Pakistan and my second assignment was as a Consular Officer in Munich, Germany, where I re-launched the Non-immigrant Visa Unit after more than a decade’s absence. I took my Lederhosen with me the next summer to Kunduz, Afghanistan, where I served as a Provincial Reconstruction Team Officer with the German Bundeswehr and Foreign Office.