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#international: "Even if it’s scary, you can do it"

Professor Tina Loraas visited the Business School Pforzheim as guest lecturer in December 2017. She was the counterpart to Professor Nothhelfer who taught at Loraas’ home university in Auburn, Alabama, in summer.
In the Interview with Felix Fürst she tells about her passion about accounting and the different types of students she was meeting in the US and in Pforzheim.

Dr. Loraas, it’s your first time in Pforzheim and you chose the month of December. Did nobody warn you of the bad weather?
I mean, I lived in Germany before, in Giessen and Bitburg, so I knew the weather wouldn’t be great but I wasn’t expecting it this grey. The first day I was here it snowed and it looked beautiful. So, I thought ‘well, it’s not that bad’ but then it went away. But I think the worst part of it for me is that it doesn’t get light until 8.15 in the morning and then it gets dark at 16.30.

Maybe you should come again in summer?
Yes, I would like to come again! And I’ve been told that I should come in June because it’s so beautiful here in summer.

You are lecturing about accounting – to be honest, accounting is not the most popular subject among students. So, what is it that fascinates you about it?
My husband was in the Air Force and he was stationed in Bitburg. There we had small groups of classes we could take but the only choices at that time was accounting and nursing. So, I took an accounting class and I think I like it so much because it’s very organized and I like to be very organized, too. But as accounting has grown and changed it’s just much more interesting to me. I like to look at risks within companies and what we can do to help alleviate that risk. And so, I’m talking about fraud which I think is really interesting. But no, the students don’t seem that terribly interested in accounting either. Same in the US as like here: No one really likes accounting. That’s universal, that’s international.  

Speaking of internationalization, what’s your most important advice you can give to students in our today’s global world?
What I’m realizing even with me is that even if it’s scary, you can do it. People will help you. There are nice people everywhere and most people are going to be very helpful and try to help you. And so, I think it’s important to just getting out and doing different things and trying different things before you settle on a job or before you settle on where you gonna live. Especially while you’re young and you have the opportunity to study abroad, I would definitely do it, whether it’s the US or China or other European nations.
And what I’m learning, too, is that things are not the same. I lived in Germany, so I know that stores are different, traffic is different, transportation is different…

…and the weather…
…and the weather is different. But what I didn’t realize is how different the university system is, in the US versus in Germany. For example, students in the US would be so upset if their grade was one grade for a whole course. They are used to having a homework grade and participation grade and so lots of components so one mistake doesn’t cause a big problem. But here, when I suggested some intermediate grades, the students were not used to that at all.

Have you recognized other situations where German students differ from American students?
I think German students and American students are very different from each other. I think there are some really nice things I would like American students to learn from German students but I also think there are some things that German students could learn from American students. I have found that German students don’t really want to ask me questions, they just stay very quiet and reserved. That’s very nice and sometimes the American students could learn that because they ask questions all the time, but Germans don’t ask questions at all. And it seems to me so far, German students are very self-sufficient, they work independently and work by themselves whereas American students really want me to help them every single step of the way. So, I would like if there would be a middle.

You said you lived in Germany some years ago. Do you still speak some German?
Ich spreche ein bisschen Deutsch, ja. Well, I can order beer and I understand a lot of numbers, so I can pay. But no, I planned to do a better job of learning or remembering more because I knew it when I was a child. And when I come again I will try again to do better.

Auburn University (AU) was founded in 1856. With its 28.000 students and more than 1.200 lecturers it is the second largest university in Alabama and one of the two “public flagship universities” that are located in the state in the south-east of the US. Auburn University includes 13 schools and colleges in total, students can choose from among several programs such as Economics, Design and Engineering. Aside AU’s high-quality education, especially its American Football team, the “Tigers”, are very popular. One of the most famous graduates is Apple’s CEO Tim Cook.