My name is Alex Harden and I’m a fourth year studying Environmental Science. In July 2016, I began my experience abroad by attending an independent program called the Transatlantic Academy on Sustainability in both Bremen and Hamburg, Germany. Through this, I was introduced to a number of global sustainability initiatives, including Germany’s transition to renewable energies, while studying alongside German and American students. Following this, I travelled to Lampedusa, Italy, where I worked in a sea turtle research and rescue center. During my time there, I was able to study plastics in sea turtle digestive tracts, perform necropsies and x-rays, and give tours of the center to English-speaking visitors. I even had the chance to release a rehabilitated turtle into the Mediterranean! My semester-long courses began in September when I moved back to Germany and studied under IES’s Germany: Freiburg program on Environmental Studies and Sustainability. This provided me an incredible hands-on opportunity to study forest ecology on site in the Swiss Alps, sustainable city planning by studying Freiburg itself, and was introduced to Geographic Information Systems – all while taking night courses to improve my German language skills. My summer and fall abroad was as an invaluable supplement to my studies here at UVA and accelerated my ability to speak German. At the end of this year, I hope to permanently move back to Germany so I can pursue a career in the environmental field while continuing my cultural exploration as a young professional, and my experience abroad makes me confident in my ability to do so.