Alex Abramowitz ’15, an economics and politics double-major, has been selected to participate in the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals (CBYX) fellowship program. Funded by the United States Congress and German Bundestag, CBYX is a cultural immersion program in which 75 American and 75 German young professionals spend one year studying, interning, and living with hosts in each others’ countries.
Abramowitz says he applied for this fellowship because he was drawn to the idea of learning about and working in economics and politics in a different country. “Germany is a particularly interesting country to be able to do this in, as it has a complex recent history. It is also a major European Union power, one of the U.S.’ strongest allies, and the home of the European Central Bank,” he says.
American CBYX fellows spend the first eight weeks of the program studying German at the Carl Duisberg Centrum (CDC) language school in Cologne, Radolfzell, or Saarbrücken. Abramowitz, who has no prior experience with the German language, says this intensive language training phase was another reason he chose to apply to the program.
“I realized over the past year that I want to learn another language. I think that knowing more than one language is a good way to better understand the world,” he says. “Once I found out I was accepted [into the program], I borrowed a couple books from the German department and started to work on an online program. Starting from scratch has me both excited and a little bit nervous, but mostly excited.”
After the intensive language training phase, Abramowitz will relocate to his permanent placement location where he will be expected to cultivate a deep understanding of German daily life and culture from educational, professional, and linguistic standpoints. He will do this by living with a German host family or in a shared apartment or student dormitory; taking courses (taught primarily in German) at a university or Hochschule; and interning at a German-speaking company or organization directly related to his career field.
Abramowitz says he doesn’t yet know his permanent placement location, but he hopes to be living with a German host family in a city that aligns with his research and career interests. “With any luck, this will be a place where I'll be able to study economics and European politics, as well as secure an internship related to economic policy, government affairs, or energy and the environment,” he says. “I believe climate change and inequality are the two biggest challenges that humanity faces right now. These are extremely difficult and complex problems that have and will continue to affect lives every day, which makes them pretty interesting to study. My dream is to do work that makes meaningful progress on fighting both of these.”
Abramowitz credits the go-getting, high-achieving attitude many people in the Oberlin community exude with motivating him to “try harder and do better,” both in terms of this fellowship and his future career. “Oberlin taught me that you need to be willing to put yourself out there and that there's no reason you can't. I think just being around brilliant people for four years at Oberlin has made me a more confident and capable person.”