Where are they now? Madeleine’s story
Ten years after her first UK-German experience, Madeleine reflects on how her experiences opened her eyes to the world, kick-starting a passion and changing the course of her life.
What is the most important thing you learned during the programmes you took part in?
It sounds cheesy, but taking part in the German Pupil Course really did open my eyes to the world and all the incredible opportunities out there, particularly when you know (at least a bit of) the language.
The course massively raised my confidence and taught me that I was able to pursue those experiences!
How did your experiences influence your studies?
Cheesy again, but it really changed the course of my life!
Before then I’d been planning on studying science, but the experience demonstrated just how invigorating exploring new cultures can be and kick-started a passion for all things German that’s stayed with me ever since. I’ve since completed two German degrees and have embarked on a career centred around German and languages. Again, it also hugely improved my confidence, particularly around travel and forging intercultural connections and I have since travelled to and lived in a variety of places around the world.
What are you doing now?
I now work as a freelance translator and interpreter (German, Russian and French). After studying German at school I went on to read Modern and Medieval Languages at Cambridge before studying for an MA in Interpreting and Translation at Bath. I now work with all sorts of different clients across many industries, organisations and charities. One of my favourite recent projects has been translating an upcoming German TV series – proof that German takes you to exciting places.
Did you stay in touch with the other young people you met?
I am still in touch with many of the other participants. I ended up studying at uni with one of the other UK participants and we even lived together for a short while in St Petersburg. I will soon be her Maid of Honour at her wedding in March before she’ll be one of my bridesmaids in September.
In terms of UK-German connections, I am still good friends with a German student from the Youth Ambassadors programme. Given the distance (especially now!), we mainly stay in touch digitally, but we have also visited each other many times over the years at our family homes in Bonn and Bristol as well as at uni in Berlin/Bonn and Cambridge/Bath.
Have you visited Germany again since your UK-German Connection experience?
I’ve been back to Germany many times since the various programmes I participated in and still love discovering the incredible places Germany has to offer. I also primarily work with German clients and therefore spend most of my days using German!
What is your favourite memory from your UK-German Connection experiences?
I have so many wonderful memories about discovering new things and meeting new people but one of my favourites was the Young Voices conference in 2018 where I got the chance to reconnect with so many people from the original programmes I had been involved in. It was really quite emotional and testifies to the fact that UK German Connection really does create lasting bonds, as well as a lasting interest in Germany / the UK.
Do you have any comments or advice for anyone thinking of applying for a UK-German Connection programme?
Don’t hesitate! From a personal perspective, the experiences you have and friends you’ll meet will be life-defining. From a wider perspective, the work UK-German Connection does to promote intercultural exchange is more important than ever and it is a really special thing to be involved with and something that will leave you with the skills to pass on your knowledge and passion to many others.
I remember being so nervous applying (and going to Germany!) at aged 14, but ten years on I am eternally grateful that I did given the wealth of connections it has brought to my life ever since.
Do you have a UK-German story that you’d like to share? Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org