German exchange student studies at CSU for six weeks

A German exchange student was on campus this summer to conduct research with a CSU professor about awareness of age-related change — that is, how adults become aware of growing older.

Because she was only at CSU for six weeks, she was eager to experience everything the campus had to offer.

Coming to CSU

Fiona Rupprecht is originally from Southern Germany and attends Heidelberg University, where she studies psycimg_3286hology. She finished her bachelor’s degree this summer and is continuing her education this fall, working toward a master’s degree in developmental and clinical psychology.

“I have always been fascinated by age and aging, and how individuals develop across their lifespan,” Rupprecht said. “Back home, I worked as a research assistant for Dr. Hans-Werner Wahl, the department chair, and wrote my bachelor’s thesis under his supervision. I worked very hard to study under Dr. Hans-Werner Wahl.”

Although Rupprecht had many research opportunities available internationally, she chose the collaborative exchange program created by Wahl, a professor at Heidelberg University, and Manfred Diehl, a professor in CSU’s Department of Human Development and Family Studies.

Diehl, a German native, has conducted research on awareness of age-related change since 2008, when he was a visiting professor at Heidelberg University. During this time he formed a strong collaboration with Wahl, and they developed a tool for measuring people’s perceptions of their age and age-related changes.

The collaboration has been funded by several grants from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, including a Humboldt Research Award given to Diehl in 2014 The Foundation promotes academic cooperation between scientists and scholars from abroad and Germany. Without this collaboration between professors, Rupprecht said, she might not have had the ability to expand on her thesis research in the U.S.

‘Intensified my knowledge’

Although the collaboration was the main impetus for attending CSU, she has also been able to learn more about the relations between enduring personality traits and awareness of one’s own aging process. This work, which will be continued expands on the ideas from her bachelor’s thesis.

As Rupprecht finished up her reimg_3261search from the summer session, she said CSU exceeded her expectations, adding that she has seen only minor differences between the two cultures.img_3260

“One of the things I really enjoyed was getting to socialize with students from other majors,” Rupprecht said. “In Germany, specifically at my university, each major has its own space, and students usually stay within their designated research spaces.”

Outside of her research, she was able to enjoy Rocky Mountain National Park, Denver, Colorado Springs, Garden of the Gods, Boulder, Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison and Old Town Fort Collins to get the true Colorado experience.

“It was my first time in the United States and won’t be my last,” Rupprecht said. “I learned a lot this summer by understanding another university, its students and the beautiful town where it is located. This experience has helped me become more self-confident and allowed me to look at different types of research.”