During the summer holidays, I had the opportunity to go to Germany on a week-long Cultural Immersion Course run by the organisation UK-German Connection. It was an excellent learning experience and in this article I’ll briefly outline and reflect on the various aspects of the course.
Every year, UK-German Connection runs a German Pupil Course for year 10s who learn German at school. To apply, you fill in an application form online and submit a piece of writing in German, both of which are used to decide who gets a place. In April, I was disappointed to hear by email that I had narrowly missed achieving a place. However, because of the number of applicants, UK-German Connection decided to run a week-long Cultural Immersion Course as well. Because I was high up on the list for the Pupil Course, I was given a place on this trip instead.
The group who came on the trip was made up of 15 people: 4 boys and 11 girls. We were all from different schools and only met each other in person (we had access to an online forum for a few days before) on the Saturday we left for Germany. Despite this, we all got along really well and had a great week. It was a great experience for me to meet people from other schools around the country who were also interested in learning German.
Throughout the week we managed to do a lot. One of the best things, in my opinion, was taking the train to the top of the Zugspitze, which at 2,962 meters high is the tallest mountain in Germany. For perspective, Ben Nevis in Scotland is only 1,345 meters and Snowdon is 1,085 meters. As well as this, we received a tour of the Olympic ski jump in Garmisch-Partenkirchen that is used every year for big professional ski jumping competitions. The view from the top was excellent, although it required fighting my fear of heights!
Throughout the week, we had quite a few hours of Sprachunterricht (language classes), which included a range of different things, from phrases in the Bavarian dialect to grammar structures to organic foods. Lessons during a trip abroad may appear boring, but it was actually great fun learning during a class in the morning and then using it in the real world the same day. For example, towards the end of the week we did a survey in German about how often people buy organic products. While it was nerve-wracking at first, it was great for improving confidence using the language.
About UK-German Connection
The Cultural Immersion Course was run by UK-German Connection, an organisation funded by the British and German governments whose aim is to connect young people in the UK and Germany (hence the name). This includes organising courses and seminars in Germany for people of a secondary school age. You can access their website here.
To conclude, I can say without exaggeration that taking part in the Cultural Immersion Course in Garmisch-Partenkirchen was by far the best experience I have ever had. To anybody who has the chance, I would strongly recommend applying for one of their courses, as it is a great opportunity to both have fun and improve at German.
Photos are copyrighted by UK German Connection.