Better German and a richer knowledge of Germany – from its famous markets to its delicious cakes – are what two Swansea students have gained from study visits to the country, funded by scholarships they were awarded with support from the German department.
Caitlin Oldham and Julia Debska are both studying for a BA Modern Languages, Translation and Interpreting, German and Spanish.
Both of them have recently returned from a one-month study visit to the University of Freiburg in southern Germany.
They were funded by the Hilda Hunt Scholarship, which was set up specifically for Swansea students, allowing them to follow summer language courses in German speaking countries. Swansea students can also apply for scholarships from the DAAD, the German academic exchange service.
Their visit took place at the end of their first year of study at Swansea. It was a very useful taster of life in Germany ahead of their third year, when all students spend a year in the country.
Julia Debska said:
“Freiburg is a beautiful city in southern Germany, full of students and plenty of things to do to occupy sunny evenings. My favourite part was definitely walking around the market every week. There were so many beautiful stalls, where you can buy a traditional currywurst or a colourful bouquet of flowers.
The experience was invaluable to us as German language students. Having the chance to speak to natives daily, whether we were in a cafe, restaurant or at the university, really improved my confidence in the language.
Being surrounded by the culture and the people made the learning side of it much more enjoyable. We got the opportunity to meet lots of amazing people, visit places I would've otherwise not been able to see, and overall re-instilled my passion for language learning.”
Caitlin Oldham said:
“This was an exciting experience and a great way to prepare for the year abroad in the third year.
Freiburg is a beautiful city near the Black Forest so we did a lot of sightseeing and hiking. We got to try lots of new foods: my favourite was Stefans Käsekuchen – cheesecake - at the Freiburg market. We also visited nearby cities like Konstanz and Strasbourg.
The University of Freiburg was very friendly and it was interesting to learn German alongside people from all over the world. Living and studying in Germany for a month improved my understanding of the language as well as my confidence.
I am grateful that I had this opportunity to see how German is used in everyday life and to put what I have learned into practice.”
German can be combined with another language or other subject areas such as English Literature, History and International Relations. From September 2024 Business Management students can also study German from beginner’s level with the new languages pathway.
The German section at Swansea has partnerships with several universities in Germany where students can spend their year abroad, in Augsburg, Bamberg, Mannheim, Regensburg, and Würzburg.
There is a strong emphasis on boosting students’ career prospects too. For example, Swansea lecturers in German organise visits to a careers roadshow focused on jobs for German-speakers and learners, which is run by the German Embassy, the Goethe-Institut and the DAAD.
Christiane Günther, senior lecturer in German at Swansea University, who supported Caitlin and Julia with their applications, said:
“I am delighted that Caitlin and Julia had such an enjoyable and enriching experience in the beautiful city of Freiburg.
When you are studying German, there is no substitute for spending time in Germany, to improve your language skills and your knowledge of its culture and way of life.
That’s why we encourage all our students to take every opportunity – like Caitlin and Julia have done – to apply for scholarships. We have so many partnerships with German universities, where students can spend their year abroad as part of the degree.”