We interviewed a Michigan State University Alumni, Elizabeth Kelley, who had recently studied abroad to study German in Germany. She graciously allowed us to share her thoughts on studying another language in another country for those who are curious about doing the same.
Q) Why Did You Choose to Study Abroad?
I decided when I was in high school that I wanted to study abroad. My German teacher was a big advocate of it and always brought in old students who talked about their experiences abroad. Hearing them talk about the new things they learned, the challenges they went through, I knew I needed to go abroad.
Q) Why Did You Choose Germany?
After my first trip to Germany in 2007, I fell in love with the country. My grandparents both emigrated from Germany and I remember when I was about 7 years old, sitting next to my Omi, reading My First 50 Words in German. I was so excited about the aspect of learning another language, and that passion stuck with me throughout college when I decided I wanted to study German.
Q) What Did You Study in Germany?
When I was in Munich, I mostly took courses regarding the German culture and language.
Q) Do You Think Studying German in Germany Helped You Improve in the Language?
Studying German in Germany was definitely beneficial to learning the language. There is no better way to learn a language than be completely immersed in it. Constantly hearing, reading, and speaking German helped my language skills tremendously and I gained confidence in my German.
Q) Do You Think You Could Have Studied German in Another Country?
I could have studied in Austria or Switzerland (both German speaking countries), but I was so in love with Germany. Thanks to my previous visits and knowledge of the country, I knew Germany was where I belonged.
Q) What Specific German Courses Did You Take?
The majority of my classes were related to German studies. Literature, culture, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (well known German author), writing. Some of the classes I took through the University (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat Munchen) were in English. My favorite was an English literature course called Representations of Evil in Literature.
Q) Was It Worth It?
The entire experience was definitely worth it. I would do it again in a heartbeat. Not only did I get to make friends, I experienced many different aspects of the German culture. During my semester break, I spent a month working on a sheep farm with a German family. Through a volunteer program called WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms), I learned about a completely different culture. Farming was completely new to me, so I was miles away from my comfort zone.
Q) Would You Recommend It?
I continue to recommend studying abroad or just traveling in general. Everyone should experience a different culture, it's a very different experience. I grew as a person, being placed outside of my comfort zone. I gained confidence, as well as a sense of independence, by being placed in new and odd situations. Now, I'm constantly in the mood to travel somewhere new.
Q) What Are You Doing to Further Employ Your German Study?
I continue to read and study German books and read articles to keep up to date with current events. I keep up with friends and family who live in Germany. At the moment, I'm looking for a job where I can utilize my German skills.