Sometimes in life, the biggest disappointments can lead to life’s biggest successes. That was the case for Michigan State University graduate Vicky Scott who, as an MSU student, received the unfortunate news that she didn’t make the final round of interviews for a competitive internship with GM.
Devastated, Scott was forced to change directions and ended up following her mother’s advice by applying to MSU’s German Language and Culture in Mayen Program.
“It turned out from what I thought was, at the time, probably the worst thing ever, to be the best thing ever,” Scott said.
The summer study abroad program led her to change her major from Business to German and led her to her husband, David Scott, who also was part of the German Language and Culture in Mayen Program in 1985.
A German major, David Scott hoped the program would give him the opportunity to study the language in an organic way, outside the traditional classroom setting. But what he took away was not only a greater understanding of the culture and the language but also the love of his life.
The Mayen study abroad program, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2023, places students with host families in Mayen, Germany. Students attend classes with MSU faculty during the week and can travel around Germany and Europe on the weekends.
We had to go thousands of miles away to find each other…We were at the same level in German, but never crossed paths. When people talk about fate, I used to think ‘there’s no such thing.’ But there definitely is.”Vicky Scott, 1987 MSU graduate
“A lot of the group would decide, ‘Hey, let’s go to Paris this weekend,’ or we’d go to other places in Germany and travel overnight, get there in the morning, and hang around in youth hostels and stuff,” David Scott said. “Then one day we went to an organ concert at the big Cologne Cathedral, and there was this lovely young lady sitting all by herself and I went and sat by her.”
That lovely young lady was Vicky Scott. The pair immediately hit it off and, in between classes and studying, managed to travel across Germany, to Austria, Rome, and other European locations.
They married the following summer and will celebrate their 37th wedding anniversary this year.
The couple later discovered they shared a series of unlikely coincidences on MSU’s campus. Prior to their meeting in Mayen, David lived in Hubbard Hall and Vicky lived in Akers.
“We lived in adjacent dorms,” Vicky Scott said. “Back in the day, I don’t know if they still do, but we used to yell insults at each other, from one dorm to the other. That was a big thing. We probably yelled at each other before meeting.”
Also, when Vicky Scott was inducted into the Tower Guard, the men’s Glee Club performed the MSU fight song and the alma mater. At the time, David Scott was a discord in the Glee Club.
“Even if I hadn’t met my wife there, it was still a great experience. I’m really glad to see the program is still going strong.”David Scott, 1987 MSU graduate
“Somewhere, my mother has a picture of me where the men’s Glee Club is off to the side and behind us, and David is in the picture,” Vicky Scott said. “We didn’t know each other then. We had to go thousands of miles away to find each other. We took German at the same time, but we never had classes together. We were at the same level in German, but never crossed paths. When people talk about fate, I used to think ‘there’s no such thing.’ But there definitely is.”
David and Vicky Scott both graduated from Michigan State University in 1987 with Bachelor of Arts degrees in German and are happy to see the Mayen program has continued over the years. The program brought them together, but it also provided them with a valuable foreign language education, teaching them more than they’d learned in most classrooms.
“Even if I hadn’t met my wife there, it was still a great experience,” David Scott said. “I’m really glad to see the program is still going strong.”
And growing strong it is. The German Language and Culture in Mayen Program is one of the longest-running study abroad programs offered by MSU.
Over its 50-year history, the program has influenced the lives and careers of hundreds of students, giving them unique insights into the German language and culture through faculty-led instruction and the total immersion of living with host families. Likewise, the presence of American students in this small German city has created a powerful bond between the students and Mayen residents — a bond that has continued to grow with each passing year.
Every summer, several host families welcome students into their homes, some of whom have continued to do so for many years.
In honor of its 50th anniversary, a special anniversary alumni trip to Mayen is planned for June 2023. To receive more information about the trip, fill out and submit the 50th Anniversary Alumni Trip Request Form. Also, a fundraising campaign was launched to support student scholarships for the program. The scholarships will help ensure that students have access to all the incredible experiences offered by the Mayen program, with the goal of making it more affordable so that any interested student can benefit from this life-changing experience.