Walking the Walk and Talking the Talk

Becky Vernachio
May 16, 2019

I am officially over the halfway point of my time here in Freiburg, and it is very bittersweet to be writing those words. I have experienced so much in my time here already and I know the next half of my adventure here is going to be equally amazing. While I have had many awesome adventures such as hiking, weekend trips planned on a whim, concerts, plays and operas, and many more, I haven’t just been traveling and exploring here in Freiburg. After all, I am studying abroad. So this week I am going to give you an inside look at my classes—which are all in German-and what it’s like to be studying a foreign language in a country where it is the native tongue.

Since I am in the Language and Area Studies program here in Freiburg I am studying the German language. The first class that I started here was my German grammar and language class. We had two weeks of intensive classes that really helped to polish up some grammar topics before we settled into a much less intense schedule of twice a week for two hours each class. As a future German teacher I find this class to be so much fun, but it isn’t without hard work. Everyone in my class has a solid handle on the German language, and the goal of this class is to really deepen and strengthen our language skills so that we are able to communicate at a near-native speaker level. We do different grammar drills, practice writing, and do presentations, but we also talk about cultural topics and different parts of the language that aren’t as easily learned in a classroom like Jugendsprache (slang used by teens) or the different dialects in Germany.

I am also taking a course called Environmental Policies and Green Business in Freiburg. This course is probably my favorite that I am taking here, because we are looking at what Freiburg is doing for sustainability while actually being in Freiburg. I love this topic and being able to go on excursions around the city and see what we learn about in person is fantastic. We have learned about things such as the Heliotrope in Vauban, the new planned city section, and public transit and bikes in Freiburg. I love how environmentally friendly Freiburg is, and this class is a really good look into how and why everything works here.

The next two classes I am taking have been something of a surprise for me as I have never taken a course in either subject area. The first course is an art history course. This course has really made me reexamine the way I look at art. We’ve practiced doing picture descriptions and also have looked into specific German artists and their works. Just last week we took a field trip to an art museum in Karlsruhe where we had a tour led by a ballet dancer. That meant we danced, moved, and really changed our perspective when it came to looking at the art. It wasn’t a stationary observation of each piece, but a dynamic exploration of how the piece made us feel. I have never done anything like that before and I had a great time dancing around a museum.

The last class that I am taking with IES Abroad is a politics course that focuses on the role that Germany plays as a 21st century country in Europe and worldwide. Much like with art history, I really didn’t know much about politics before starting this class. We have taken such an in-depth look at the European Union, the different political parties in Germany, and how the government here works. I have learned so much from this class and it is particularly interesting being here now as the elections for the European Union Parliament are coming up soon.

Overall, my classes here have been so interesting and it has been so much fun having them be in German. For some topics, I have only learned about them here which makes it really interesting to have the information come to my mind in German first and not my English thoughts and impressions on the topic. It has also been great to work on my grammar and writing skills. My vocabulary has expanded so much since I first arrived here, and I feel so much more at ease speaking quickly with my flat mates or with other IES Abroad students. It is really fun to be able to switch between languages in the same sentence seamlessly depending on which one better expresses what I want to say. Some of my friends in the program and I will only say certain things in German even if we are speaking English. When a friend and I were cooking dinner the other night we were switching between both languages as we talked and only when my German flatmate pointed it out did we realize it. She was so impressed at how we merged the two languages together and that we spoke mostly German even though we are both Americans. It is amazing to me how far I have come with my language skills in the past few months, and I really hope that I will be able to maintain all of what I have learned from my courses and my daily life here after I return to the U.S.

German Word of the Week: Die Sprache is the language. To say “I can speak German and English!” you would say, “Ich kann Deutsch und Englisch sprechen!” Or you can drop the verb sprechen (to speak) and just say, “Ich kann Deutsch und Englisch!”

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Becky Vernachio

<p>I am a sophomore German and Secondary Education major at Susquehanna University. Some of my favorite activities include reading, hiking and being outside, running, and yoga. I am actually a certified yoga teacher! I want to be a German teacher after I graduate. My favorite word in German is Glühbirne which means light bulb, but translates literally to "glowing pear"!</p>

2019 Spring
Home University:
Susquehanna University
Beachwood, NJ
German Language
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