Wednesday, September 27, 2017

[FREIBURG] German at Uni Freiburg

I'm trying to recall how I ended up in Freiburg this September, but I just can't find the answer. All I remember is that the other two options were language institutes in Munich and Aachen. Maybe I just wanted a university atmosphere once again? In the end it was a good decision because Freiburg turned out to be a more enjoyable experience that I imagined it would be. The classes and seminars were great. Everyone was friendly. The extra-curricular activities were plenty, and so were the travel options.

What surprised me was the number of groups. There were 14, as I found out on the first day. Damn. I couldn't possibly interact with that much people. The introvert in me would go insane. The proficiency test came in the form of an online cloze test to be accomplished three weeks prior to the start of classes, which I thought wouldn't reflect my real level. Classes at Potsdam were just starting back then. Surely, I would've already leveled up after three weeks, right? So I said to myself I'd talk to someone in Freiburg about it.

I didn't have to. I ended up in Class 14, which happened to be the last one. My inclusion in the group elicited two different reactions. 1) Wow, yahoo! After getting stuck in B2.2 forever, it felt good to finally reach C1 and stay there. To me it meant that Potsdam was a success, money and time well-spent. 2) WTF? Why are they assigning me there together with the bright kids. Seoul déjà vu, I'd be the class idiot again. Perhaps, to some extent, I was. But everyone in class was just so nice and friendly, it was a non-issue.

The thing about me is I don't know if I end up being the class idiot for the mere fact that I really am stupid or because I am just apathetic and too lazy to participate. I'd like to think it's the second reason, though, because if it was the first then I wouldn't have had those results based on the proficiency test, right? But let's not dwell on that anymore. How was Uni Freiburg and how were the classes and seminars? Do I recommend the university if you want to attend a German summer course?

Freiburg is one of the few universities offering summer courses in September. They also do one in August, which means it could be a two-month stint for you if you like. The classes were held in the morning, same time every day for four weeks. The seminars were all in the afternoon for ten class days straight during the second and the third weeks. You get an ECTS point each for the two seminars that you choose, but they are optional. I believe you get four for the language course itself.

The summer academy also has this Sprachlabor thingy where you are to spend 30 hours or so at the language lab for self-training. In the end you receive an ECTS point for that but come on, who really has 30 hours to spare? Seriously. It doesn't help that you can do exactly that even when you're not in Germany anymore. And so I decided that I'd be spending those 30 hours better socializing or getting to know Freiburg well or actually talking to native German speakers outside the classroom. After all, that's the goal here.

No, it wasn't about leveling up anymore. All I wanted to do was live the language and be able to speak more spontaneously. Again, I could have exerted more effort for better results, but I'm at that point in my life where I'm already well-aware of my limitations. Instead of pushing the envelope further and stressing myself out about it, I've learned to just embrace it. It's not a competition anyway and as long as I know that I've progressed somehow, then I'm already happy with whatever result that would yield.

The seminars I attended were both in German (there were English ones on the list, too). One was about the "Art of the German Sentence" which was a bit boring but extremely helpful in changing the way I usually construct sentences. I got more than I bargained for in that seminar, to be honest. The other one was about intercultural mediation and how language, not just in its verbal form, can be utilized as a tool for better understanding between different cultures. It was interesting and I learned a lot from diverse opinions coming from classmates from various parts of the globe.

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