28/10/2014, by CLAS
Onesies, adjective endings and the Bremer Stadtmusikanten: my summer at a German university
Emily O’Malley, Year 2 German (Beginners) and History, was one of the four Nottingham students who were granted a scholarship by the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) to attend a summer course at a German university last year. (The internal deadline for this year’s application round is 12 November – please get in touch with Sascha Stollhans if you’re interested.) Read more about Emily’s experience here:
This summer I spent a month in Bremen, North Germany after receiving a DAAD scholarship to study at a Hochschule there. The money paid for my entire course and I would definitely recommend the process to anyone considering applying for funding. Naturally the first few days were incredibly daunting but after the first week it was easy to settle in and enjoy my time in Germany.
One of the main things contributing to my excellent time there was the people I met. I had never encountered such a wide range of people from around the globe – and in all one place! It really opened my eyes and the culture differences were fun to explore. For example trying to explain the concept of a onesie in German to a Moroccan was an interesting experience! To be honest making the new friends did more for my language skills than anything inside the classroom. Yes the grammar work was helpful, and reading literature was useful, but the challenge of communication was made more enjoyable with my peers – we all struggled with the language, but this meant we all helped each other whenever we got stuck. To a certain extent it took away the fear of making hundreds of errors when speaking. Of course I made lots of mistakes (and still do) but the experience made me realise that in day to day life putting your opinion across should not be held back by the inability to remember the correct adjective endings for a word.
Hochschule Bremen also put on some great trips around Germany which cemented these friendships and allowed us to explore more of the country. We had city trips to Hamburg and Hannover, as well as a day in Groningen (the Netherlands), played mini Golf in the dark and went on a traditional North German Wattwanderung. There were also events held within Bremen and its surrounding areas, including a club tour, karaoke night and trips to local museums and art galleries. This meant that although the hours of study may have been intense at times they were punctuated by lots of fun activities which made it feel more like a holiday than merely studying abroad.
Overall my time in Bremen was an incredible boost to my confidence and enthusiasm for studying German. The experiences of being immersed in the culture and building friendships with people of other nations in another language has really excited me for my upcoming year abroad. When before I might have looked on third year with fear, now I can’t wait for it to arrive!