Grüß Gott! 🙂
Humans are creatures of habit, and there is something calming about knowing what your day, week, or even month entails. I’ve fallen into quite a routine here in Graz, but my routine will be shaken up in a couple of days! (3 to be exact!) Why? Because I’ve got more adventure brewing! It’s almost Osternferien (Easter break) which means that it’s time for MORE TRAVEL!
Osternferien is two-weeks long! In total, I will be spending 18 consecutive days on the road (or to be more exact, the train-tracks). After literally a month of planning, I have finally narrowed down my destinations, and have configured how many nights/days I’ll spend in each city. So Tour de Stéphanie will be: Bern, Switzerland – Brussels, Belgium – Bourglinster, Luxembourg -Luxembourg City, Luxembourg – Cologne (Köln), Germany – Berlin, Germany – Amsterdam, Netherlands – Paris, France. Keep your fingers crossed I don’t get lost, although the chances are highly likely. (It’s okay, getting lost makes for funny stories later).
I’ve been to a few of these cities before, but I am firm believer in trying to get a multidimensional view of a city once you’re in it, and you can’t do that without more than a couple visits. There is always more to learn about places, and I’m pretty excited to go to all of these places and get a bigger picture of Europe. I have some things in mind that I want to go do/see, but with travel it’s important to remember to stay flexible. There are some things I’m excited to see such as: The European Headquarters in Brussels (The international political science nerd in me is screaming), the Anne Frank House in the Netherlands, the Musee d’Orsay in France (I didn’t make it to this museum last time I was in Paris), and the Cathedral in Cologne (I’ve read about it in books).
I think that one of the best things (although there are many) about studying abroad is that I get to see other parts of Europe much easier. Studying abroad hasn’t just helped me with my German speaking skills, but has given me the ability to better my intercultural competencies by interacting with people in languages I don’t know, with hand-gestures that mean well, and by a plethora of smiles when I’m confused. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, living in Austria has given me the opportunity to live out my insatiable wanderlust. Seriously, anyone who has the desire to always be somewhere new should really consider time abroad. The doors are always open.
Aside from getting ready to go on this big adventure, I swear I am also taking classes, and doing some serious work here. My German classes have been going really well. I’ve learned so much vocabulary that I can use in my daily speech, and have gotten so much practice talking. I’ve also signed up for a Tandem learning project that connects two language learners whose goals are to learn the other persons native language. My partner and I spend half the time conversing in English so that he gets practice, and the latter-half speaking German so that I can get practice. I’ve learned that while being in Austria has helped with effortlessly picking up vocabulary, I still have to put more conscious effort towards practicing talking. Attempting to talk is the key to acquiring a new language. I know that sounds like a simple, and obvious clarification, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. The opportunities can be few and far between ( international students here often speak in English, as it is the lingua-franca, and many of them came here with the intent of taking courses in English and not German). I have to force myself to use the German I am learning in the classroom while I am out and about. With this being said, my biggest advice to those really wanting to improve their language skills while they’re here is: Be present while you’re here. Get out of your room. Go talk to people. Don’t be afraid. Start conversations in German even if you don’t have all the right words. Attempt to say things even if it’s in broken sentences, with the wrong verb conjugations, and adjective endings. Don’t be embarrassed. Try while you’re here because the chance to be bold with your language learning is while you are here. Keep trying, because warum nicht? (why not?)
So I’ve left you all with something exciting & something serious, so now I’ll just leave you with some photos:
Mit freundlichen Grüßen,