Name: Shannon Chesney
Major: Advertising; German
Hometown: Royal Oak, MI
Program: German Language and Culture in Mayen (Germany); Teaching Internships in Germany; Summer 2013
The German culture experience in Mayen, Germany is irreplaceable. Living with host families, we engage in the culture head on with our speaking skills. We learn to interact in society while speaking German. It provides an experience that is not possible to have while at MSU. You develop your language skills more than possible in the confinement of Wells Hall. On a personal level, the experience allows you to grow and mature. You have to adjust to the culture shock and find your comfort in a place so unfamiliar. You bond with your group members by embracing an adventure that truly changes your outlook.
During the week, we had class Monday through Thursday from 9am to 12pm. We would first have class with our MSU professor learning grammar and continuing our language skills and then we would meet with a native speaker from the region and she would teach us culture and things to help us get by in our everyday interactions. We even had a class period devoted to German slang. After class, some days we would have excursions where we would travel to different parts of the region and learn more about the Eifel. If we didn’t have an excursion, the day was ours. We would adventure through Mayen with our friends, often hiking, or we would bond with our host families. On the weekends, we used our Eurail passes and did traveling throughout Europe. I personally went to Amsterdam and then Munich.
It is my opinion that when studying a foreign language, you are disserving yourself by not traveling to the country you are studying. The experience is worth more than anything you’d spend for the travel. When it comes to study abroad, money should not be a factor. MSU helps with many costs and if you use smart spending strategies while abroad, you can limit your costs. Never sacrifice a study abroad experience because of money!
While on my teaching internship in Nürtingen after the Mayen program, I stayed with a host family and participated as an assistant teacher at a Gymnasium in Nürtingen. This three-week experience changed my life. I was able to improve my German speaking skills and help young German students develop their English. I developed a close relationship with my host family, my mentor teachers, and my fifth grade students. I cannot put into words how incredible this experience was. Not only did I leave with the highest German proficiency I have ever had, but I left confident in my speaking skills and proud of the leaps I took to achieve them.
To go to MSU and not study abroad would be a shame. The best advice I could give to an incoming MSU student or one who is looking to find themselves in some way would be to study abroad. The experience teaches you more about yourself than you thought there was to learn. I thank MSU for all of the opportunities they have given me especially in the German program.