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Embedded Summer Course in Dresden, Germany (GER 201)
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Christopher Nischalke

Christopher Nischalke

Major: German
Minor: Spanish, French and Francophone Studies, TESOL
Hometown: Johnstown, PA

How did you learn about this opportunity?

I learned about this program through my German 003 professor at Penn State Altoona, Dr. Jutta Gsoels-Lorensen. I met with her to discuss my future plans and goals for the German major.

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

My experience in Dresden was a wonderful time. The longer time (two weeks) helped me to live as a local Dresdner would, rather than as a tourist. I got to meet diverse, unique people who came from all over the world to learn German at the Goethe Institut. Dresden is a cultural and historical hub, which meant there were plenty of sights to see and activities to do there. I loved touring the churches, visiting the Semperoper, and tasting the delicious ethnic food in the Neustadt. Some of my favorite memories from this program were made exploring the city with new friends.

How did this experience impact you academically?

This embedded course provided the fourth semester of German language required for me to study abroad in fall 2015. During the two weeks of pre-departure preparation, I learned about Dresden´s rich history. The preparation spanned from the beginning of the city, through World War Two, and to modern times. By traveling to Germany, I was able to immerse myself in German culture and daily life. The Goethe Institut is a world renowned German language school, and studying in a natural environment made it easier to improve my German skills. In some cases, the other Goethe students did not speak English. We were forced to converse in German, which created many opportunities to practice our speaking skills.

"The skills, knowledge, and global perspective gained during this trip have helped me to greatly sharpen my German abilities."

What are your career goals and plans?  How did this experience impact them?

As a Penn State student who is majoring in German, I plan to study abroad at the Albert Ludwigs Universität in Freiburg, Germany during the 2015-16 academic year. The GER 201 embedded summer course provided the fourth semester of German language required for me to be eligible for study abroad. After earning my four year degree, I plan to do an internship and complete a master´s degree in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). My ultimate career goal is to teach English to high school students in a German speaking country, i.e. Germany, Austria, or Switzerland. By studying at the Goethe Institut with the embedded summer course, I feel much more prepared for my academic year study abroad program. My grammar and speaking skills have improved dramatically, and I have learned so much about German culture and customs. This experience will be a great help as I adjust to life as a study abroad student.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

I would recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students without reservation. The skills, knowledge, and global perspective gained during this trip have helped me to greatly sharpen my German abilities. Students who plan to major or minor in German should definitely consider this course, as the learning opportunities extended far beyond the classroom.

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