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Points of Departure: Like a Family

Michelle Gammill, Michelle Pruchniewski, and Jessica Shih

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In the video above, three seniors tell a story of friendship that began abroad, in Dresden, Germany. Photo by Cydney Scott

Looking back on her freshman year, Michelle Pruchniewski recalls how hard it was to find her place at a big school. She was living in West Campus, but all of her science classes were in East Campus. Having grown up with brothers, she suddenly found herself living on an all-girls floor. “When you’re trying to go through freshman science classes, and you have no one to ask the simplest questions, it’s really hard,” recalls Pruchniewski (CAS’11). “I was going to transfer.”

All that changed after she decided to study abroad and enrolled in BU’s Dresden Science Program. Soon after arriving in Germany, she met and formed a tight bond with fellow science majors Michelle Gammill (CAS’11) and Jessica Shih (CAS’11). “It was really, really lucky for me that I met these two girls when I decided to study abroad,” Pruchniewski says.

The new best friends spent much of the semester traveling around Europe and cooking dinners together. “We became like a family,” Shih says. And when Pruchniewski was admitted to the hospital for several days with tonsillitis and mononucleosis, Gammill and Shih traveled an hour each way to bring her ice cream and gifts.

“I could assure my mom she did not have to fly out to Germany to take care of me, because I had my ‘German family’ doing that already,” Pruchniewski says.

The three women have remained close friends and study partners since returning to campus. After graduation, Gammill hopes to find work in a hospital laboratory and Pruchniewski plans to apply to medical school and Shih to pharmacy school. Although they hope to stay together in Boston for the immediate future, Gammill says, “It’s still up in the air for us.”

“Luckily, we all really love to travel,” says Pruchniewski. “I don’t think staying in touch is going to be an issue.”

Alan Wong can be reached at alanwong@bu.edu.

Additional editing by Chris Maggio.

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