Study abroad trip is life-changing experience
UNL student thanked University of Nebraska donors at annual luncheon.
Posted: Tue, Jul 30, 2013
Alex Pribil wasn't the kind of guy who'd volunteer to stand at a podium and speak to people.
It'd make him uncomfortable. He'd avoid it when he could.
Yet this past spring, he gladly offered to be one of the student speakers at an annual luncheon in Lincoln for University of Nebraska donors.
Two things made that possible, he says:
- He was so grateful for the scholarship money that helped him study in Germany for seven months in 2011.
- He was so much more confident than he was before, after living and thriving on his own in Germany, and speaking in German to so many new people.
"My time abroad affected every aspect of my life for the better," he told the donors. "And I now can't even imagine not having that experience."
Alex went to Germany to study through a UNL program called "Deutsch in Deutschland," which means "German in Germany." The program was taught in only German, he says. No English. It was like getting thrown in the deep end to sink or swim.
Just signing up for classes was difficult. What took German students a few minutes took him all day. But he found his way. He got into a groove of the fast pace of Berlin. He stayed with a host family in their apartment. They spoke to him in only German. (He didn't realize his host mother could speak English until one of his American friends came to visit him in mid-June, and he heard her speaking fluently!) He traveled throughout Europe.
He's also studying French at UNL. He wants to be an international lawyer someday.
"The language skills that I've learned at UNL and through studying abroad will help me tremendously in the future, and I'll always be grateful to the generous individuals who had the thoughtfulness to establish education abroad scholarship funds."
He had to raise around $16,000 for the Germany program. His parents helped. But he still had to dip into his savings and take on two extra summer jobs.
And he applied for as many scholarships as he could.
"Waiting to hear back from a scholarship committee," he told the crowd, "was probably one of the most stressful things I've ever had to do. I would not have been able to make my dream to study abroad a reality without every bit of financial assistance I received."
One of the scholarships he received was through an estate gift from Elizabeth Grone, a Lincoln native like Alex who was a language consultant for Lincoln Public Schools. (Alex graduated from Lincoln East.)
Elizabeth died in 1979, long before Alex was born. He wishes he could have had the opportunity to meet her and to thank her in person.
But at least he could stand at the podium and tell that group of donors – members of the foundation's Burnett Society who also plan to leave gifts to the university in their estates – just how much his time abroad meant to him.
"Thank you for the opportunity to share my experience with you," he said. "And, most importantly, thank you very much for the various ways you've decided to help the university and students like me."
Global Engagement and Student Support are two top priorities of the Campaign for Nebraska. If you would like to help students like Alex study abroad, please consider giving online or contact the University of Nebraska Foundation at 800-432-3216.
Membership in The Burnett Society is open to people who've made plans to leave a gift to the University of Nebraska in their estate. For more information, contact the foundation's Tracy Edgerton at 800-432-3216.