German Pupil Courses and beyond: Sofia’s journey
Sofia (19, from London) took part in the German Pupil Courses in Berlin in 2018 and has since continued her UK-German Connection journey. She tells us more about her experience and the places it took her next.
I enjoyed German at school but…
…we had no exchange programmes there and I was very keen to visit a family, so I decided to apply.
I loved the entire course! It was the best summer I have had.
All the excursions we made as a group and the language lessons we had were interesting as we learnt about the world of work and higher education instead of covering more traditional topics. This gave me a fresh perspective on education in Germany and we learnt about start-up businesses in Berlin too which I knew nothing about before.
If I had to name one favourite memory it would be when I went with my host family to the Schlachtensee, a lake on the edge of the Grunewald forest where we went swimming followed by a cycle ride.
The whole family came to visit my family…
…in October 2019 just before I left to start university and it was great to see them. I got on very well with my host partner and his family. I WhatsApp his mother very regularly and am in touch with him too.
I have kept in touch with the UK participants as well.
Two of them are at the same university as me so I see them often, and I have met up with a few others after the trip.
I have made great friendships and feel proud to have a connection to Germany now through my host family who were extremely welcoming and supportive throughout my stay.
“Ich erinnere mich besonders an die gemeinsamen Ausflüge mit meiner Gastschülerin am Wochenende zum Tempelhofer Feld und an den See sowie das gemeinsame Essen mit allen Gastschülern am letzten Tag. Danach bin ich dank der Einladung meiner Gastschülerin nach England gereist”.
I stayed involved by…
…being an online mentor for GPC participants the following year. I offered them advice and shared my experiences to put them at ease and let them know how much fun they were going to have!
I definitely learnt how to…
…be much more independent. This encompassed all areas of the course, such as making new friends, both British and German, working on group projects or navigating my way around a new place and country.
The trip also taught me that learning German is something to enjoy and have fun with. Having a mixture of academic sessions and trips out, e.g. visits to an escape room and a cookery class, were the perfect combination. This left me feeling very inspired to carry on with German beyond school.
I continued my UK-German Connection journey…
…in December 2018 when I took part in the UK German Connection Youth Conference (‘Young Voices’) in Berlin. I managed to meet up with my host family briefly while I was there and they gave me German Christmas specialities to take back home which was extremely kind. I also recently took part in a UK-German webinar on photography.
The course definitely affected my educational choices…
…as it confirmed my decision to study German at university: I am currently studying for a BA in German at the University of Oxford.
The courses are unique and feel completely different to learning German at school!