With sights of blossoming flowers, brilliant sunshine, and students on each and every corner of Beury Beach, one knows the end of Temple’s spring semester is in sight. But as my schedule fills with project deadlines and finals, I find myself occupied with thoughts of life beyond this busy term. My mind wanders from thermodynamics to the works of Bach, Mendelssohn, and Wagner. As I finish a model for computer aided design, I contemplate the legacy of communism in Western Europe. And though many may think of internships, beaches, and road trips as we finish this academic year, I must admit that I spend my finals days of this semester with different thoughts altogether. When I think of summer, I dream of Leipzig.
If any summer of mine throughout undergraduate study was going to be distinctively German, this is surely the one! Though I eagerly await my departure for Temple’s Intensive German Language program in Leipzig, my participation on this trip was by no means expected. Upon beginning my junior year last fall, I anticipated studying anything but German language in future study abroad. But as the year progressed and my post-graduation plans came into shape, studying German in Leipzig became the one and only way to spend my summer. Now, with Introduction to German I behind me, I wait for my departure to continental Europe with great enthusiasm. My experiences studying abroad in Derry, Northern Ireland in Summer 2017 were more fantastic than I could have ever imagined, and I have even higher hopes of a unique and enriching experience from studying German in the former heart of East Germany.
While my hopes for this trip are high, so too are the stakes. Studying Irish culture in English required little to no linguistic adjustment at all; in fact, it was rather interesting to note the variety of dialects and cultural differences associated with a common language. But now, with a culturally immersive program in a relatively new language on the horizon, I find myself in the crossroads between great success and utter failure.
The difficulty of learning basic German was expected, but I enjoy the challenge and did well in my first German course. Be that as it may, I can only hope that the skills learned at the end of my first semester of German provide enough background to fully immerse myself in Leipzig. In the worst case scenario, I struggle throughout most of the program and enjoy it less than desired. Alternatively, my novice language level may be exactly what I needed to get the most out of this experience. The whole point of immersion is to fully absorb all that I can about “being German” this summer, whether that be in respect to language, culture, food, dress, and etc. With these thoughts in mind, what better place is there to go for improving my basic German than Germany itself?
When all is said and done, it is this final question that I cannot wait to answer.