german schools

you’re working in a field you genuinely enjoy. you have supportive, loving friends. you follow your passions, you’re fluent in your target languages. the 12 new books you ordered will arrive soon. your flat is cozy, decorated with plants and fairy lights. you’re happy. this might seem like some fantasty, but i know this will happen. i believe in you, and you should as well.

HOW TO STUDY/LEARN ANY LANGUAGE

Being a polyglot, I decided to make a post about how to study any language, Without further ado, here it is:

1) TRY TO STAY AWAY FROM ENGLISH

This is the most crucial step to studying/learning a new language. In order for your brain to pick up the new words and ideas, it needs to be more immersed in the language you’re learning. Now for most of us who are learning languages in school, that’s kind of hard, especially since most language classes do most of the work in English until you build a level of fluency. This is the primary reason why immersion programs or immersion schools are so much more successful in teaching a language: you’re forced to talk, write, speak, and think in the language you’re learning. Your brain makes connections faster and thus learns faster to understand and process the language. I would suggest that when you’re learning the language, whether it’s in class time or homework, try to work only in that language. Don’t automatically translate things into English because that’s only going to inhibit your process. Even if your knowledge of the language is limited, practicing thinking in the language, reading the language without translating, and speaking will greatly improve your progress. You’ll find yourself become more fluent and the language will flow rather than be halting because your brain is trying to translate things instead of thinking fluently.

2) LEARN AS MUCH VOCABULARY AS YOU CAN

Vocab is one of, if not the, most important aspect of learning a language. I would even go as far as saying it’s about 70-80% of effectively knowing a language. Think about it this way, if you’re at a restaurant and you’re asked to read the menu or if you’re out and you’re reading signs and advertisements, will knowing hundreds of verbs and their conjugations help you get by? Most likely not. Vocab on the other hand will make the difference between understanding and being totally clueless. If that example didn’t do it for you here’s another one: when you’re speaking to someone how can you express yourself if you don’t know the words? Chances are even if you know no grammar but know key words in the language someone will understand you. Most people don’t pay that much attention to grammar anyway when you’re speaking. As long as you have a basic understanding of it, you’ll be understood. I’m not saying that grammar isn’t important, far from it, but so many people underestimate vocab and focus on grammar and that hinders your learning. Try to learn as much vocab as you can because it will bring you one more step to being fluent. The key to knowing a language is to understand it to a high degree. You can’t understand if you don’t know the words. Find a list with the most common words in the language you’re learning and try to learn them all. Have a goal to learn 10-20 new words per day and you’ll go a long way. If you’re trying to learn vocab I would recommend to have a sheet with all the words you’re trying to learn and their definitions. Hide the words and try to write the vocab by seeing only the definitions. Writing down helps you remember and this method is foolproof. I’ve used it for 6+ years in French and it’s never failed me.

3) LEARN BASIC GRAMMAR

When I say basic grammar, I mean the typical verb tenses and some basic structures. This doesn’t mean learning every single verb conjugated in every single tense, but rather learning the patterns of grammar and how to apply them. Work smarter not harder. Learning the patterns makes it easier to recognize them when you’re reading and remember them when you’re writing. In my opinion, one fault with the way languages are taught in school is the way they teach grammar and how much time they spend on it. Most native speakers don’t worry as much about grammar as non-native speakers do. Again, I’m not saying grammar isn’t important because it is and  you have to know it, but the way it’s taught ruins it. Try to make a chart with all the verb tenses and the patterns that go with the different types of verbs and then a list with the irregular verbs/exceptions. This should be enough to help you gain a basic mastery of grammar. If you know the basic rules, it will become second nature as you speak, write, and read more.

4) READ, LISTEN, AND SPEAK

The language you learn at school is very very different from the language actually spoken in its native country. Most of the language you learn is very formal while in real life, formality is disregarded to a degree and slang is prevalent. In order to build a fluency, you need to read and listen to the language in its natural form to pick up the slang and words that are actually used and not the archaic words that nobody ever says. Listen to music from that language, watch the news in that language, read a book or magazine in that language etc. This will again help your brain learn and process the language better. It will also help with vocabulary and general understanding. Children’s books are the best when you’re starting out. The language is simple and the grammar isn’t to complicated. Start with children’s books and then work your way up to novels and other forms of literature. Listening to the language is also crucial. Try to find mediums where the language is spoken and just listen. Don’t translate or stress yourself out trying to understand it all because you won’t the first couple of times. Just let it sink in. Gradually, you’ll find yourself understanding more and more and you’ll improve. With the speaking aspect, speak as much as you can. Don’t be embarrassed if you stumble, can’t express yourself as much as you would like, or have an accent. I also find that watching/reading/listening to translated works is helpful. Find your favorite book and read it in the language you’re learning, it will help you understand and learn more because you already know what’s going on and can focus on the vocab and grammar. Find your favorite movie and watch it in the language you’re learning. Again, it will help you learn more vocab. The more you practice the better it will get. If you distance yourself from speaking you’ll never improve. Balancing reading, listening, and speaking is the key to being successful.

5) DON’T BE AFRAID TO MESS UP

Nobody becomes fluent over night. Cliche but true. Don’t expect to instantly know everything. It’s normal to struggle and have trouble. Failing is part of the learning process and if you stop practicing because you’re afraid, you’re never going to learn anything. Let go of your fears and insecurities and go for it. If you fall down, pick yourself up and start again. Don’t be embarrassed if you mess up but rather learn from your mistakes and grow. The things we remember most are usually the things where we’ve messed up or had a negative experience with. So use the hiccups as a learning experience and your language skills will improve. 

If you follow these steps, I’m confided that you’ll be better in no time :) The key is to enjoy what you do and have fun! Good luck!

set small goals for yourself! you don’t need to be fluent right away, or graduate with straight As. it’s way better to have smaller goals, like “get an A on this test” or “use memrise every day for a month” - it’s so important not to overwhelm yourself, which can harm your motivation a lot. same goes for having a (study) blog, just set yourself some small milestones, instead of having one huge aspiration that seems impossible to achieve.

Throwback to when one of the most popular and promising ministers of Germany had to resign because he plagiarized on his doctoral thesis....

sometimes when I look at the madness that is politics today (especially American politics, but also European politics), I think back to this and almost can’t believe it

remember how outraged everyone was….”HE DIDN’T CITE HIS SOURCES, WE LOVED HIM BEFORE BUT NOW HE NEEDS TO BE BANISHED!!”…..

imagine if something like that came out about the angry cheeto….everyone would probably just shrug it off and be like “eh, just Donnie things, what else is new”. Trump would probably even be proud….”Yeah that makes me smart. Got away with it didn’t I?

What German is like

 Hey everyone! 

I know that there are a lot of stereotypes about all kinds of languages, and I thought I’d start with my own and explain a little about it. Even if you’re not aspiring to learn it, I hope this post might interest you. 

1. “German people always sound angry.” 

I don’t think this is true. German can sound angry, yes, because we have a hard pronunciation (I can’t think of a better description right now) and use a lot of nouns, which make everything sound more formal and less emotional (also known as “Beamtendeutsch” = official german). But I think the reason why people from other countries associate anger with the german language is because in the media, you probably only see german politicians in the parliament holding speeches - and, of course, 80% of them are yelling at other politicians and speaking in formal terms. 

Here are some music videos in which you’ll hear a different German: 

Sarah Connor’s “Wie schön du bist” (How beautiful you are) from her album “Muttersprache” (Mother Language);

Andreas Bourani’s “Auf anderen Wegen” (On different ways) (please also check out the english translation of the lyrics!)

Mark Forster’s “Au Revoir”

Adel Tawil’s “Lieder” (Songs) 

Of course there are tons of other German artists, feel free to browse Youtube or iTunes and I’m sure you’ll find something you like.

2. “German isn’t useful at all. “

Every language is useful! Secondly, German is among the 12 most spoken languages of the world, and it’s an official language in six countries. Almost 100 million people speak German as a first or second language. (x) It’s also a minority language in several other countries. 

Most importantly though: There are a lot of languages that are easier to learn once you speak German - Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Dutch… I learnt Latin in school and everyone told me it was useless because literally no one speaks it. With the help of Latin, I’m now able to understand almost all Roman languages, like Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and French. Learning a language always has more positive side effects than we think. Plus, German is a challenge! It’s different from English, it’s different from Roman Languages, but all in all it’s very consistent. 

3. “German is way too difficult to learn - even German people can’t speak German properly. “

Yes, it’s difficult to learn. What isn’t? We have tons of fun grammar and tenses and weird exceptions, but that’s what makes it cool. It will also improve your knowledge of grammar terms in general so you can apply it to almost any language in the world. (Worked for me that way with Latin, which has some big similarities to German.) Plus, the basic grammar you need to master daily situations isn’t all that bad. 

Well, there certainly are German people who aren’t as capable of German grammar as they should be - but I guess there are also British people who confuse affect and effect and forget to use the subjunctive. I can assure you that people whose first language is German are not bad at German. Not everyone knows the grammar rules, but we use them correctly subconsciously.

4. “I can’t pronounce most of the words.”

The wonderful ä, ö, ü, ch.. Yeah, I can see how the pronunciation can be a problem. However, rest assured that 

a) 80% of the German native speakers have equally as much trouble with the “th” in English and 

b) no one will judge you if you speak with an accent. We’re going to congratulate you on trying your very best to learn our language, and we certainly won’t mock you if you pronounce things wrong. 

Learning a second language (mostly English) is obligatory in Germany, so really everyone here can relate to having problems with foreign languages, no matter if the problem is grammar, orthography or pronunciation. I learnt three foreign languages in school. Half of my year is probably still trying to figure out how the famous english “if-sentences” work, which verbs are used with the spanish subjuntivo and what the hell a latin ablativus absolutus is. So yeah, don’t worry. We’ve all been there. 

5. “Even Germans sound so different, it’s like they don’t speak the same language!

True. We have so many dialects in Germany that I can’t even count them, and of course Austria and Switzerland probably have even more than we do. It’s said that people from Hannover speak the “best” German, but to be honest, I don’t know if that’s true. Maybe. I’ve never been to Hannover. 

The most famous dialect is probably Bavarian. Berlin and Cologne have their own dialects, as well as Sachsen, Hessen and basically every other city or region. If you wanna catch a glimpse of it, watch Peter Frankenfeld’s scene “Die Wetterkarte” (Weather Report). It’s really old and the content doesn’t apply to nowadays, but the dialects he does are really accurate and super funny - even I don’t understand everything he says tbh. Keep in mind though that most people don’t use dialects especially when they are in contact with people from all over the country and it’s necessary that they’re understood, like lawyers, doctors, teachers, professors et cetera. I don’t even really speak “my” dialect because we never used it at home. And don’t worry, most people will try to speak their best non-dialect German when they notice you’re not a native speaker! 


This turned out much longer than I thought, but I hope this was helpful in some sort of way. :) 

Any more questions? Ask me! x

weird movie masterpost pt. 1

House (1977) - a girl brings her friends to visit her aunt and it doesn’t go well with really beautiful special effects

Fantastic Planet (1973) - a human enslaved by aliens sets forth a revolution in this strange animated film

An Optical Poem (1938) - no plot? no problem! just some super trippy circles to classical music

Begotten (1991) - not for the faint of heart or the strong of heart proceed with caution 

Un Chien Andalou (1929) - a classic surrealist film written by one the kings of weird salvador dalì  

Les Escargots (1965) - starts out with a pretty basic plot but then takes a weird turn

Les Dents du Singe (1960) - this animated feature follows a man who sells his teeth to a corrupt dentist

Suspiria (1977) - an american at a prestigious german ballet school notices strange behavior in its staff with an awesome soundtrack


*movies with links are available on youtube

**send me recs for pt. 2 please!!!

***pt. 2 // pt. 3

Germany 101: German Federal Elections

On September 24th 61.5 million German voters will decide on the central decision in their democracy: who should represent them in Parliament and eventually govern the country? Elections to the German Bundestag (like our House of Representatives) are held about every four years, with the last election having been held in fall of 2013.

The Basics

In grade school, most Germans are taught about the five principles in the Basic Law which stipulate that the members of the Bundestag be elected in “general, direct, free, equal and secret elections”. “General” means that all German citizens are able to vote once they have reached the age of 18. The elections are “direct” because citizens vote for their representatives directly without the mediation of delegates to an electoral college. “Free” means that no pressure of any kind may be exerted on voters. “Equal” means that each vote cast carries the same weight with respect to the composition of the Bundestag. “Secret” means that each individual must be able to vote without others learning which party or candidate he or she has chosen to support.

Where Do You Vote?

Germans have the options of voting at polling stations for example in community centers or schools, or sending in their vote by mail.

So. Many. Parties.

Germany has a lot more political parties than the United States. This is due to the fact that the German electoral system uses a proportional system, which means that all parties get a share of the available seats that reflect their share of the popular vote. However, not to have too many political factions which would make the decision making process nearly impossible – and Parties can get pretty specific as to what they stand for – Germany implemented the “five per cent clause” which means a party needs at least five percent of the votes cast to be represented in the Bundestag.

According to the German Research Institute the following parties are likely to be represented in the next German Bundestag, as they are expected to satisfy the five per cent clause:

  • CDU/CSU (the Union parties): a political alliance of the two parties representing conservative Christian-democratic policies, political home of the current Chancellor Angela Merkel and part of the governing “grand coalition”
  • SPD: the center-left social democratic party promoting “socially just” policies, the other member of the currently governing “grand coalition”
  • Die Linke: “the left” party – a democratic socialist and left-wing populist party
  • BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GRÜNEN: the green party which traditionally focuses on topics such as environmental protection
  • FDP: the “free democratic” party - a (classical) liberal political party
  • AfD: a right-wing populist and Eurosceptic party newly founded in 2013

First and Second Vote

Voters actually have two decisions to make when they go to their polling booth.  This part can get tricky.

The first vote is for the representative of your district. There are 299 electoral districts in Germany and the winner of each district gets a seat in the Bundestag.

The second vote is debatably the more important vote, which is cast not for a person but for a party. The number of seats a party gets in the Bundestag is based on what proportion they get of the second votes. Since the first votes for district representatives take up 299 seats of the Bundestag, the remaining 299 seats are filled up by representatives of each party until each party is proportionally represented.

And now it’s going to get really complicated (also for Germans, believe it or not): In case a party gets more directly elected candidates by the first votes than proportional seats by the second votes, these candidates nonetheless remain part of the new Bundestag. This is called an “Überhangmandat”. The other parties then get seats added proportionally which makes the Bundestag even bigger. The last four years, because of this phenomenon there were in total 631 Members of the German Bundestag instead of the legally foreseen 598.

Coalitions

“Coalition” is not a word used in American politics. Coalitions are alliances formed by different parties in the Bundestag to end up with a group that makes up more than 50% of the seats. Traditionally the party with the most votes tries to form a coalition first. Typically coalitions have been comprised by two parties in the past, but in the future coalitions of three or more parties could be a reality. Why do this? Due to the voting system which is a proportional and not a majority one, this is in most cases the only way to create a majority in the Bundestag which is necessary to pass laws. The coalition parties tend to negotiate a coalition agreement at the start of their cooperation which lays out their policy goals for the coming legislative period. Though the majority party within the coalition typically has more sway in what stance the coalition will take on certain issues – such as who the Chancellor will be – the smaller party benefits from the coalition by typically receiving several Minister positions (think Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, etc.) which are filled with members of their party. They might also enforce some stances on their core political issues as long as they can get the “bigger” coalition partner to agree in the negotiations.

Wrap Up

  • German elections are general, direct, free, equal, and secret
  • Germans vote in person or via mail
  • There are a bunch of parties to choose from representing the full political spectrum from far left to far right
  • Two votes: a first vote for a specific candidate representing your district and a second vote for your party determining the number of seats per party
  • A Coalition is formed after all votes are in to create a group that holds more than 50% of the Bundestag seats

Got more questions? Shoot them to us in the comments below!

Ciao, hallo, ahoj, здра́вствуйте…that’s hello (hi) in languages that I’m learning - italian, german, slovak/czech (my first language) and russian. As you can see, I love languages. You could call me a language freak. I enjoy learning them and I would love to see other people enjoying it too. So that’s why I’m here today. Writing this post about how to learn any foreing language.

  • 1. VOCABULARY

For me, vocabulary is the most important part of any language. You can know the grammar, the pronunciation and everything else, but if you don’t know words, you can’t do anything. For many years, as I was younger, I struggled to learn new words. I often just translated them and that was all. Then I finally did what was necessary. I wrote them down.
Yes, that’s the first step. Write the freakin’ words somewhere, then write the translation, if you need to, a sentence where it is used (in languages such as german, do it so the word will be in nominative, so you won’t mess up the article). Read it out loud and when revising, make flashcards.
One tip when it comes to flashcards with vocab. Don’t make a flashcard of every single word you have on your list. It will consume your time, paper and your energy. Do it only with really hard words that you can’t remember.

  • 2. GRAMMAR

This is the most annoying thing for me to this day. I don’t like grammar, I struggled with grammar even in my native language (because we have i/y and billions of rules, you would understand if you were from Slovakia). What usually works for me is a simple training. Make a chart of the words in sentence, and write how did they change, or where do they need to be and so. Then just write simple sentences and have someone to correct them (teacher or some friend who is really good in the language).

  • 3. READ

Read books and articles in the language that you are trying to learn. Underline and translate the words you don’t understand (then follow the steps in 1.) Reading help so much. My english is not a product of teachers in schools and language courses after school. It’s the product of me reading every single book in english since I was 10 (or around 10 I think). Don’t worry about you not enjoying the book or the plot. That will come later. First few books are there for you to get used to it and then you will enjoy it. I promise.

  • 4. SPEAK & WRITE

Find someone who you can speak and/or write with. Native speakers are the best and if they know your first language, that’s even better. This can help you so much, because you are actually using the language in real life situation. If you don’t know anyone in person, try the internet (if you want to speak with me, message me any time).

  • 5. MOVIES, TV SHOWS

This one is really simple, just set the language to the one you want to learn. First you can try with only subtitles, then also the language. Maybe you won’t notice, but you will learn the correct pronunciation of words and you will learn the accent.

  • 5. THE GREAT SOURCE OF KNOWLEDGE - INTERNET

If you are on your computer or phone, use sites like:

  • duolingo
  • memrise
  • quizlet
  • any news site in language of your choice

There are also applications where you can create digital flashcards (Wokabulary for example).

  • 6. MOTIVATION

Never forget - the biggest thing is to have motivation. Don’t learn a language without one. Find something you love about the language, have some goal or something, but don’t learn the language just because you need to. It only makes you hate the language.
For example I learn italian because I love the culture and people there and I want to be able to make friends in Italy as I go there every year. My reason to learn german is that I want to study (and late maybe live) in Austria and there is only a limited number of universities that teach in english so I need to be really good in german. Find something like this and I guarantee you that your next hobby is going to be called “foreing languages”.

I hope this will help you on your journey to become the ultimate language freak like me.

Some German names are weird like the name Hermann which sounds like you say Mister Man when it’s translated into English and if you’re English it literally looks like someone misspelled ‘Her Man’ but it gets even weirder because it’s a really common name and it can be used as a first and a sure name that means if your teachers last name is Hermann you have to call him Mister Mister Man

Apply for CBYX!

For those of you who have not heard of CBYX, it is an exchange program between Germany and the United States that is sponsored by the U.S. Congress and German Bundestag. For one year, youth age 15-18 live with a host family and attend German high school. Going the other way, German high school students do the same here in the U.S. Best part is that CBYX is a full scholarship! Sound intriguing? We hope so. We bring this scholarship up now as the deadline for applications looms in the distance–December 1st. In order to arrange the details and finish the app in time, now is the time for action if you want to throw your hat in the ring for this prestigious scholarship.

To help you conceptualize the before, during, and after of being a CBYXer, we asked our social media expert Claire, who completed her year in 2010, to talk with us about her experience.

What made you initially apply to CBYX?

I applied to CBYX for a few reasons. My uncle moved to Germany many decades ago, and I’d grown up hearing this mysterious language being spoken by him and my cousins when they visited. My brother and I would sit with our German-to-English dictionary trying to pick up what was being discussed. That interest combined with a natural sense of adventure led me to favoring the more untraditional path of doing a year abroad in high school and wanting to do it in Germany. Unfortunately, being an exchange student in high school isn’t as common in the U.S. (yet), so winning a full scholarship helped convince my parents and school to support it.

How did you arrange the year abroad with your school?

Arranging a year abroad in high school is difficult if your school hasn’t had a student do it before you. I was the first at my school, and so I had a meeting with my guidance counselor as soon as I could to discuss my options. I suggest bringing materials with you about the prestige of the program, and emphasizing your flexibility. For example, I took online courses for English and History before I left for the year as they wouldn’t be comparable in Germany. I also took the SAT’s abroad as to be on track for applying to college when I returned. Basically, I’d speak in statements with your school about how you will arrange the year rather than coming with questions–as it opens up the door for them saying it isn’t possible or that you would need to repeat a year.

Was it difficult to learn German? Did you speak it before you left?

I hadn’t traveled outside of the U.S. before CBYX, so for me it was shocking to get off the train in Berlin and suddenly everything was in German–signs, announcements, labels. I had two years of middle school/high school German at my disposal which gave me limited vocab to work with. At first, I prioritized what I said because it often required running into a word I didn’t know, which was exhausting. But word by word and day by day my German improved. I was very motivated to learn because with each word I learned my daily life became a little easier and I got to show my true colors a little more. It is a humbling experience to have to lean on people a little more for help speaking or to learn the words for things, but it’s all part of the growing pains of learning a new language and tons of people have done it before you so there is no shame in it.

What was living with a host family like?

I lived with a family in a residential part of Berlin. At home in Pennsylvania, I had a single parent, was the only girl, and was the youngest of four. In Berlin, I was the middle child and had two sisters. The family welcomed me as one of their own, and despite my preconceived notion of all Germans being tall and blonde, I found myself blending in in a family of short brown-haired females. My first day with the family, my host sisters and I played dress up– giggling as we threw leopard print bras over our shirts and wore big clown-like glasses. I knew then that I’d found myself in the right home.

At the same time, it isn’t all easy–nor is your normal family. Living in someone else’s home requires some flexibility to their set routine, and communicating why you do what you do–which your mom doesn’t have to ask because she has seen you since you were born– but your host family has not.

What were the biggest cultural differences you experienced?

As cliche as it is, I was shocked by how blunt Germans were. I was used to a lot of sugar coating and it took a while to appreciate how Germans communicate. I also had to get used to the independence given to people my age, as there was a lot more hand-holding and rules back in the states. In Germany, I was treated mostly like an adult, which was duly awesome and scary as it meant quickly taking on a lot of responsibility. Lastly, using public transport was a big difference from taking a school bus or being picked up in a car by your parents. It put a lot of new pressure on me to know how to get home or remember bus routes and schedules.

How is German school different than American school?

German school was WAY different than an American high school. At least in my school–which was an Oberschule, I ended and started at a different time almost every day, depending on which subjects I had. I had a class of about 20 kids who I had my core classes with and my teachers rotated to us instead of vise versa. Exams made up the majority of my grade rather than homework or participation and exams didn’t include multiple choice but rather short answers and essays. Also, there was no such thing as substitute teachers, rather if a teacher had vacation or was sick, you just didn’t have that class. This said, every school is different, so yours may resemble an American school more.

Is there a “good” year to do it?

I did my CBYX program during my junior year. This is arguably the most tricky year to do it, as colleges are looking closely at your grades and most people take the SAT’s that year. It is definitely possible though and I had no issue graduating or getting into a good college. There are pros to doing CBYX as a gap year between high school and college, in that you don’t have to stress out as much about your grades at your German school and can defer your college acceptance.

Did you get to travel during the year?

I got to travel a lot. Some host families will take you on their family vacations. With other CBYXers living across the country and the abundance of train options, it is easy to visit them too. Additionally, going back to young people being given more independence in Germany, it is not unusual to go with friends to other countries and stay in youth hostels or travel in general without parental supervision.

Have you returned to Germany since?

I have been lucky enough to have returned to Germany several times in the years after my program, and also to have had my host family visit me in Pennsylvania. My host family still refers to “my bedroom” and when I’m back I curl up on the couch eating Erdnussflips with my host sisters and watch German soap operas like no time has passed. There are certainly still things about Germany I don’t understand and words I haven’t learned yet, but CBYX solidified Germany as a second home.

How has having completed CBYX helped you in the years after?

CBYX truly changed my life course, academically and professionally. Seeing an entirely different tax, welfare, and education system in Germany inspired me to study economics in college. I’ve volunteered supporting high school exchange students ever since I returned to the U.S. and have helped choose new generations of CBYXers. Speaking German has connected me with Americans and Germans alike in my city which has been the core source of a lot of my friendships. I also eventually found myself working at the German Embassy, which obviously wouldn’t have been possible without my year living there, the German skills I acquired, and the connections that came out of that. There are people who walk away from CBYX and don’t use their German again or don’t feel the draw to return back to Germany, but if you do choose to keep involved in German relations, CBYX is a very supportive, diverse, and well-connected community.

What advice would you give those applying to or on the program?

The best advice I received was as I was leaving on the airplane. A chaperone told me to “say yes to everything”. This year is a chance to try out a new sport, a new way of talking, a new style, a new way of being–lots of things that wouldn’t be possible or easy back home where everyone knows you. It is a chance to ask questions and expose yourself to new viewpoints. So just say yes. Personally, doing so led me to visiting my first nuclear power plant (I did not know the word for this and said yes anyhow) or to a planetarium show that blasted nothing but Queen (which if you haven’t done before, I highly recommend). I tried cow’s tongue, which is surprisingly delicious on bread, and fell off my bike twice during a community bike tour. I exited my comfort zone more than I stayed in it and came back feeling like I’d lived years within just one. I’d broken outside the bubble of home and gained a new understanding of myself in the process.

If you want more information on applying for CBYX or hosting a student, check it out here: http://www.usagermanyscholarship.org/