Molly Hancock could have enrolled at Albion College, in her words, as a “a non-athletic regular person.”
A first-year student from Midland, she didn’t play soccer her senior year at Dow High School, choosing to spend time on other activities. But that didn’t deter her from signing up for the Briton squad when she came to campus in May for new-student orientation, and she has started eight of the 11 contests she’s played in so far this season.
And she decided to take a chance on another opportunity during orientation, choosing a first-year seminar course examining important European and global transformations as illustrated in selected German films from the early 20th century through the fall of the Berlin Wall. The class included a fall break trip to the German cities of Frankfurt and Heidelberg giving students an immersion into the culture.
Going on the field trip to Germany required Hancock to miss a week of the women’s soccer season – including a pair of contests against Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association rivals – but she wasn’t going to miss the opportunity. Hancock is a biochemistry major with aspirations of a medical career, and opportunities to study abroad may not fit into her schedule later in her academic career.
“I chose (the first-year seminar),” Hancock said, noting students are given the opportunity to choose four seminars that appealed to them. “Three of the four I chose were ones where you travel.
“I thought the seminar would be interesting,” she added. “I never thought about other countries making films because Hollywood is so big here. I like learning about things you might never think of on a normal basis.”
She continued, “I was nervous about missing school, and I already miss a lot of classes for midweek soccer contests. I was sad to miss two matches, and that was probably the worst part about it and not being able to be there for the team. It was almost a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I’m going to take advantage of what I’m given.”
Hancock said she followed her teammates’ progress via live stats on the Internet at the hostel where they were staying, the only place where wi-fi was available.
Enhancing the learning in the classroom
Professor Perry Myers and his wife, Suzanne, lived in Frankfurt for more than a decade, and they provided students with an unforgettable cultural experience. Hancock noted she was impressed with the Western look of Frankfurt, the castle in Heidelberg, and the casual lifestyle of the Germans.
“They talked about how Frankfurt was destroyed during World War II and the troubles it had in the past because a lot of the German films reflected the atmosphere in the country at the time,” said Hancock, who lists Metropolis among her favorite German films. “A lot of them are depressing because of the problems Germany was having early in the 20th century and we got a real feel for that.
“I love castles and the visit to Heidelberg castle was cool because it was a departure from the cosmopolitan feel of Frankfurt,” she added. “We could actually see what Germany was like in Heidelberg. Everything is old in Germany – there are thousands of years of history – and you could really see that in Heidelberg.”
She continued, “The field trip introduced me to a new culture. Germans have a completely different style. Everybody dresses up, where we like to wear sweats here. We talked to some people about the German government, and we got to understand that while it is a democracy they are still more to the socialist side. It’s important because I don’t know any other culture.”
In fact, Hancock said she would be willing to continue learning the German language if she could fit it in her schedule. She is pursuing Spanish as a minor in addition to her other activities.
The exposure to other cultures, Hancock says, will set her apart as she builds her resume for medical school.
“You never know who you’ll work with,” Hancock said. “I have experience understanding other cultures and being respectful.”