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What to expect from class during a summer intensive language study abroad program

When I thought about doing the Intensive German Language Program in Leipzig Germany, I only imagined my classes would be all day every day with lots of homework and assignments. I imagined a rigorous class schedule and little free time. Obviously, I still signed up because learning the language was so important to me and I loved the idea of living in Germany for a month, but as for expectations, I thought I would be in a classroom every day during the week.  However, once I got here, I learned things were much different.

First of all, we started out the program in Berlin, Germany. We got to explore and learn all about the city and its history, do some “tourist activities,” get used to the new language we would be speaking every day, and get familiar with how the public transportation in Germany worked. This first part of the program helped me to get a feel for life in Germany, but still allowed us to learn more about the history and culture, through a slightly less academic lens.

Once classes began upon our arrival in Leipzig, I learned that what I anticipated was very different from the reality of classes. For instance, on our first day of class we had speaking class and then got a tour of the city. Another example was when we had class all morning, but then got an option for an afternoon activity for afternoon classes. The options included going canoeing, going for a nature walk, and more. I had chosen canoeing and got to canoe through the canal near our apartment. This past week, we had options for tours of different historical aspects of the city. Lastly, on the days when we have class until the afternoon, we typically have to work on our projects. For the project in a group assignment,we got to choose from a few choices. They would require us to go out into Leipzig, explore and talk to people. My group’s project is for the topic “Grünes Leipzig” (Green Leipzig) in which we are focusing on the parks and environmental aspects of the city. Therefore, this week we spent our afternoon in a park to learn more about it. This project really gets us out into the community and gets us to practice our speaking skills as well.

Canoes lined up on the river
A photo from when we went canoeing.

In addition to regular class days, we also get to go on “excursions.” On Monday, we visited Erfurt, Germany. We had a tour of the city, learned about its history, and then got free time to walk around and explore. We had the opportunity to go shopping, go to one of the museums, just walk around, and to go up to the top of a fortress and get a great view of the city. Erfurt was definitely one of the prettiest places we’ve visited.

The skyline of Erfurt, Germany.

On Saturday, we had an excursion to Dresden, Germany. We walked around the “Neustadt” (new city) and then went to the “Altstadt” (old city). Many of these buildings had been destroyed so the ones we saw were the rebuilt versions, but they were still amazing to look at and they kept the original style from before they were destroyed. For our tour of Dresden, each person in the group had been assigned one building or part of the city to research and then talk about when we saw it. It was one of the most interesting tours I’ve been on and I loved how interactive it was since we were the ones giving it. We also had free time in Dresden to explore some of the buildings and museums.

A view of some historical buildings in Dresden, Germany.

Although there will be an exam at the end of the course, and there is an intensive aspect to the program, I love how much we get to go out and explore the city. Even our assignments allow us to really get out and explore, like our first one being to take a picture of some part of the city that shows the everyday life in Leipzig and write and talk about it. I love how we have gotten to be involved and have the time to see all aspects of the city, on top of still having classes that allow us to work on our German skills! It has made this program so much more fun!

Learn how you can study abroad in Leipzig!

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