My German Summer

Ana Faraon, a third year student with a double major in German Studies and Chemistry, who participated in the Summer Abroad program in Germany in 2011 answers questions about her experiences.What was the nature of the course you did in Berlin?The 2011 Summer Abroad course in Berlin was an exciting  fusion of literature, history, and sociology, explored through a hands-on approach. The readings about experiences in Berlin provided a starting point for our cultural investigation of the city, whereas the museums and field trips were the driving force of a rich and original opinion exchange.What did you learn by participating in this program that you wouldn’t have learned in Toronto?Everything that I learned in this course was uniquely influenced by the environment! The memorial houses where authors lived offer a new perspective on their literature; the remnants of the Berlin Wall and make us relate to stories of people ‘caught on the wrong side’ and, last but not least, the multitude of monuments help us understand the post-war development of German thought and dealing with the past. All these are not remotely as relevant in Toronto, because verbal/ written descriptions cannot contain the overwhelming impact you experience on-site!
Has your participation in the program affected what you want to do as a career or what you want to study?This program was definitely very rewarding career-wise: the visit to the Canadian Embassy provided us with useful information on the study opportunities available to students from Canada. Personally, this course allowed me see the importance of chemical development in Germany. I hope to be able in the future to work for a company that combines my chemistry studies with my knowledge of the German language and people.
For my current studies, this course proved useful right away: I find it easy to do well in my Weimar Culture course and other similar ones as a direct result of getting to know Berlin in person, not from books.What were the biggest challenges you faced?

My biggest challenge was to go out of my comfort zone, in a new environment, where I don’t speak the language well yet and make friends by myself with the bartenders in cafes, with museum curators, with tour guides and so on. It took a bit of an effort, but it was completely worth it!

What did you find most rewarding about participating in this program?

The most rewarding thing about this program is what I call ‘personal enrichment’. I explored a marvelous city and an original culture and I learned how to deal with new life situations. I don’t exaggerate when I say that it changed my life.

What advice would you give to a student thinking about participating in this program next year?

Be open-minded, try to leave your preconceptions at home and blend with the place! You’ll have a much easier time adapting and will be able to focus on exploring the world before your eyes.  In case you had any doubts, you’re in for the experience of your university life!