''I decided it was time to take my passion for language learning seriously, and there was no better place to start looking than in Germany.''
What made you decide a language immersion program was right for you?
I had been studying German for about five years. It started as a mandatory class in high school, but soon it developed into a passion of mine. However, living and studying in the United States did not offer many opportunities to practice my German skills in real-life situations.
After graduating, I decided it was time to take my passion for language learning seriously, and there was no better place to start looking than in Germany. I soon found that several universities and language schools existed across the country offering both short and long-term courses in language development.
In which city did you start studying and why did you choose it over all the others?
After a lot of research, I finally decided to study in Germany’s capital, Berlin, at Freie Universität Berlin. I had briefly visited the city before as a tourist and had fallen in love.
Therefore, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to go back and spend more time familiarizing myself with a city known for its rich history and expanding art scene. Plus, studying at a university, instead of a language school, gave me the peace of mind that I was going to be taught by a faculty who was experienced and dedicated.
What was the process of applying and finding accommodation?
A great benefit that came with choosing Freie Universität Berlin was that the coordinators worked alongside you through the whole process.
Any questions I had regarding the course or the application, they were sure to answer in a timely fashion. I was also offered housing through the school, either in a shared living space with other students or in a private residence with a German family.
What accommodation did you chose and what was it like?
In the end, I decided on the shared living space with other students. I’m sure the more personal experience with a German family would have also been great, but I thought it would be fun to meet other international students just like me. I’m so happy I made that choice because to this day I still speak with many of the students I met during those first few nights.
Naturally, everyone was a little shy at first, but luckily there was a common kitchen and living space, so soon everyone was talking and getting to know one another. However, you also had your own room, so if you needed some alone time, or if you were ready for bed, you could always find some privacy.
Did your German skills advance during the program?
Absolutely! We all took a placement test at the beginning of the program to ensure we were placed into the right level based on our prior knowledge of the language.
On average, each class had about fifteen other students, so everyone got individual attention from the instructor. Certainly, it was also a big plus to be living in Germany because no matter where you went, there was always an opportunity to practice the skills we learned in class.
Outside of class, what other fun things could you do in Berlin?
The program coordinators were great at providing excursions and activities for students to take part in outside of class. Examples include trips to Dresden or Leipzig, visits to the Reichstag, and street art tours. There was always so much to see and do that boredom was never an issue.
My favorite experience was a tour of the Berliner Dom, one of Berlin’s biggest churches. If you walk all the way to the top, you get a beautiful view of the whole city, so I highly recommend going on a clear, sunny day.