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University of Minnesota

Going abroad to be better at home

December 20, 2012

STUDENT - Brian Eby.

Photo by Patrick O'Leary.

U undergrad immerses himself in Germany's health care system

Brian Eby has wanted to be doctor since he was in elementary school. Now the U honors student in genetics, cell biology, and development is spending a year studying health care in Freiburg, Germany.

He's there as a 2012-13 Katherine E. Sullivan Scholar. The prestigious undergraduate scholarship enables outstanding seniors from any U campus to spend a fifth year in another country.

Shortly before he left for Freiburg, Brian Eby talked about his hopes and plans.


Q&A with Brian Eby
Hometown: Oregon, Wisconsin

What's your career goal?
I have a personal connection to endocrinology, so that has always been an interest of mine, but I am also considering sports medicine. I plan to practice in a clinic and I am extremely interested in implementing new therapies in whichever field I choose.

Why do you want to study abroad?
It is my chance to experience German culture and travel throughout a country I have studied since I was in seventh grade. My free time will be spent interacting with people that may or may not speak my language and that have many unique experiences from my own. This trip will also allow me to travel much of Europe, getting a chance to experience the places I have learned about in school and from the media. I'm excited to visit many World War II sites such as Normandy in France and some of the concentration camps in Germany and Poland.

What do you see as your big challenge?
Integrating into a German culture. I have no foreign travel experience so I really have no idea of what to expect quite yet. I am very excited to delve into German culture though so this challenge does not seem as daunting as it could be. I think in doing this, I will learn a lot about my self in addition to this new culture.

How might this experience shape you as a doctor?
I anticipate drastic changes in America's health care and insurance systems during my lifetime. While in Germany, I plan to volunteer in their health care system, which is the world's oldest universal health care system, so that when I return I will be informed and prepared to contribute to the changes we will see in the future.

What do you most hope to get from your time abroad?
I want to come back with a broader perspective of our culture and German culture. I hope to return with more patience and even greater flexibility.

Why did you choose the University of Minnesota?
I knew I wanted to stay in Midwest and that I would thrive in a fairly large city. My tour of the U of M sold me when I realized how beautiful the campus is and the countless opportunities offered at the U of M and in the Twin Cities, both during and after college.

What's been key to your U of M student experience?
I think surrounding myself with amazing friends has been extremely important for my undergraduate years. I was in the Biohouse freshman year, where I met some inspiring and competitive people, and I think we have all driven each other to accomplish a lot inside and outside of the classroom.

What inspires you in a teacher?
My favorite professors have had a genuine interest in the material they teach and had a passion for teaching. When a professor comes to lecture with an upbeat attitude and a sense of humor, I have no problem giving them my full attention and I walk away interested and invested in the material.

What do you do outside of class?
I love to play soccer, volleyball, and just about any team sport. I have played soccer competitively in the cities and played volleyball and kickball in intramural leagues. I picked up running my freshman year and it has become an essential part of my life. I ran my first marathon in October and I plan on running a half-marathon in Germany. I enjoy reading and photography as well.

Any advice for freshmen?
Get involved early. Whether it is in a student group, research, or intramurals, get out there. Make as many friends as possible. Don't be afraid to make friends with professors either.

Tags: College of Biological Sciences

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