Thursday, September 27, 2012

Finding a Language

Christopher Stein (student at Austin College): "Ever since I can remember, everyone I've ever met until I attended college has asked whether or not I was German. Unfortunately I was not born in Germany. After talking with multiple relatives I found I do have some German ancestors.  After my freshman year of college, a friend from soccer, who speaks German pretty well, told me I should look into it. I had just finished up my language credits by taking Spanish. With a last name like Stein I felt the need to poke my head into the German language and take a look around. Despite having already finished my language credits, I took German just for fun. After the first semester I loved it and by my sophomore year I declared German as my minor. After two years of studying German I've come a long way. Unfortunately I haven't had a chance to travel to Germany but hopefully in the future I will be able to."

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Friends and Traditions

Brittney Son (student at Austin College): "Germany began to interest me after meeting several German foreign exchange students in high school.  They were all very open towards the different cultures in the United States , especially towards Mexican culture. I was able to explain to them in detail the various traditions Mexicans follow. In return they taught me about German culture, I instantly fell in love with it and wanted to experience some traditions first hand. I have gone to authentic German restaurants that are set up as large meat halls, and they offer a great atmosphere for families. It surprised me how people enjoy teaching and strengthening their German heritage. I mentioned to my German friends Merle and Lana that I wish to study in Germany for some time. They both became overjoyed with my comment. Merle gave me a long list on why I should visit her country. She also explained to me the amazing experience I would have. I am determined to learn German in order to visit Germany and maybe one day speak to my friends in their native tongue."

Monday, September 24, 2012

Berlin Wall and Oktoberfest

Helen Hohnholt (student at Austin College): "I spent two months studying German at the Goethe Institut in Schw√§bisch Hall, Germany.  Those two months in Germany were amazing. During those two months I was able to travel throughout Germany and be a part of two important dates in Germany.  The first one that I went to was extremely historical, I was able to be in Berlin on the 50th anniversary of the Berlin Wall being built. Being in Berlin for that was amazing. It was such a historical day and there was so much going on. The other main event that I was able to go to was still historical but a little more of a fun time. I was able to go to the opening day of Oktoberfest in Munich. While there I was able to see the opening parade with all of the breweries marching in. It was really fun to see all of the traditional clothing of Southern Germany being worn all around the city. There were many other things that I really enjoyed while in Germany but those two days will always stick out in my memory."

Friday, September 21, 2012

Multicultural Lens

Frank McStay (Austin College Class of '11, B.A. in International Relations with minors in German and Leadership Studies) Frank also worked for Austin College and is now a graduate student in Public Affairs in New York:
"Few students would argue that language is the only element in a foreign language program at a college. At Austin College, my experience in the German program was part language, part cultural values, part political, part history, and part economics, among many other parts. It is the diversity of all these parts, rather than the whole, that influenced me the most throughout my German minor at Austin College. Being challenged by a program that incorporated works of Nietzsche, that examined the socio-economic conditions surrounding the Wall of Berlin, and that discussed the theoretical attributes of individual identity, is what I enjoyed the most about learning German at Austin College. The liberal arts, within the German program, experience was engaging, peaking my interest and thinking. The differences between course material and figuring out how they all fit together is what drove my language development, love for German, and multicultural perspective.
Students of German at Austin College learn much more than just a language. Rather, they develop a multicultural lens. It is this lens or perspective that I have been able to carry forward with me and use to analyze a variety of situations. Moreover, it is a critical part of my identity today."

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Language Barriers in Self Expression

Spencer Nystrom (student at Austin College):

"While I am no computer science expert, I’ve learned my fair share of programming languages in my free time. I’ve always found the structure of computer languages fascinating. Some require strict parenthesis placement, others need lots of “$” symbols, and others don’t even need line breaks. But what I find most interesting about computer languages is that they can lack the functionality of another language; in short, it is impossible for some more basic languages to perform some tasks higher-level programming languages can. Different programming languages tend to fill different niches.
Unlike computer languages, German and English (and all other spoken languages) fill the same niche in different areas of the world. Most times, the languages will convey the same meaning, but the way they go about conveying that meaning is completely different. In fact, there are many times where the process of translation will show what someone said, but not what they meant, because the way of saying it doesn’t exist in the other language. This is a rather interesting predicament. Just because two people don’t share the same language doesn’t mean they can’t share the same ideas and feelings, it just means they have to be expressed in different ways to convey the proper meaning. What could be said in a sentence or two in German could take a small paragraph in English to explain. This is why I love learning German; it bridges the gap and allows for a more intuitive understanding of the thoughts and feelings being conveyed than by having them translated.­ It lets ideas connect without being bogged down by interpretation."

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Better Understanding Myself

Peter Keene (student at Austin College):
"Although I have a strong German heritage the only Germanic culture I have been exposed to is the American-German communities that I have been to in Wisconsin, and I cannot say that those are good examples of what German culture really is. Aside from my ignorance of German customs and traditions, I knew very little of the country itself, i.e. its political system, its history, and even those of its neighboring countries like Austria and Switzerland that are, in some respects, similar to Germany itself. But I feel like these reasons are just a side motivation for my learning the language and immersing myself into the German program here at Austin College. My strongest motivation for taking these courses is to learn the language that many of my ancestors grew up learning and to learn about the country from which they came from so that I can better understand my family and myself."