First, learning another language gives you such deep insight into the culture. I learned SO MUCH ABOUT MYSELF and my own culture from being away from it for a long time. I learned better time-management (by scheduling all classes to start after at or after 11:00 am!) I learned money-management, surviving on the paltry $185 per month that my dad sent me (Thanks Dad!) And the cooking sessions that I took part in on our floor's kitchen - with Lina from Malaysia using a wooden spoon in her wok with these puffer shrimp chips that she threw into the hot oil - they popped like popcorn! And Marmoru from Japan wokking green veg in his wok using big, thick chopsticks blackened to short nubs from use; Chhaya from India starting every meal with frying garlic and onion in half oil and half butter, then she would choose chicken or whatever, and then taking out a shoebox with 10 different whole spices - whole nutmegs, cinnamon sticks, coriander seeds, turmeric, making her own curry for that moment with her grater plus mortar and pestle; Stefania and her boyfriend living in her tiny little dorm room, making pasta and homemade tomato sauce by pushing a can of roma tomatoes through this grinding strainer which took out the seeds and little bits of tomato skin ---this common food-making (I have realized in my later years) was so valuable to me. Oh yeah, and the German kids too, showing me Nutella, and Knorr soup and Quark, brewing coffee with their tiny Melitta filters and a small electric kettle.
I learned to knit from a girl in my dorm who needed help in talking and learning about Mark Twain, who I was also interested in, and I was familiar with his works, so we became best friends, and she then helped me with my German papers, too. At that time, all German girls learned knitting, crocheting, cooking skills, lots of decorative arts were taught in German schools.
And, I can't forget my wonderful, darling, long-haired, beer sipping, philosophical, canvas Army Jacket-wearing, doe-eyed poet German boyfriends, walking arm-in-arm along rainy cold streets, willing to describe the street-scenes and the people whom we passed, using such lyrical poetry. The most romantic boys I have ever known were German boys, wondering about how to take their place in the world as the post-war generation. Oh, the pros of studying abroad were MANY!