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Chico State

Rock and Roll and the Fall of Communism

By Matt Robertson, Graduate Studies in History

Studying abroad means more than just studying, and few public institutions of higher education facilitate the experience better than Chico State. Two weeks ago in Berlin, I saw Checkpoint Charlie (where WWIII almost began) and the Brandenburg Gate, and quivered with unbridled emotion at a Holocaust museum.  But the one experience that stood out the most: seeing Russian soldiers’ autographs on the interior walls of the Reichstag after they had taken the building in 1945, effectively ending WWII in Europe. It wasn’t any special message from the soldiers, although I can read some Russian, it was who I was with that made the moment—Professor Kate Transchel.

One fine April day, I strolled by my grad advisor’s door and noticed a poster that indicated she would be teaching a class in Germany this summer on Rock and Roll and the Fall of Communism. What a topic!  So, I popped my head in, and instantly she said “Well, you HAVE to come!” I owe the amazing Dr. Transchel a debt of gratitude unlike any other. She changed my life in her Russian History class when I was an undergrad, turning me into an active, intellectually engaged adult.  I took her commandment to join her in Germany VERY seriously.  So now, not only am I a student in the class, but I am also lecturing and serving as a TA for my mentor.  Pay attention to those study abroad posters on campus!

The Chico experience is not limited to life in Chico.  The joyous reaction on my professor’s face upon seeing me in Berlin, making our adventure a reality, said it all.  If you open yourself to the experiences  available to you at Chico State, there is no telling where they will take you.  I’ve produced and directed a documentary film on Spanish soccer, I’ve traveled to Russia, and now I find myself in Germany, lecturing on The Beatles and planning trips to Paris and Prague.  The Chico Experience starts with people and your relationships with them.  CSU, Chico is the beginning—the rest is in your hands!

This is the last piece in a series of four about the Study Abroad opportunities available at Chico State year round.