Submitted by Olivia Mann on the 2017 winter session program in Leipzig, Germany sponsored by the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures…
No matter if I am sitting in phonetics class at the Herder Institute, spending time atop the Völkerschlachtdenkmal with friends or just walking down the street to a bakery, it still just hits me: the fact that I am blessed to be spending my winter session in Leipzig, Germany.
On top of being continuously thoughtfully and thankfully exhausted, this study abroad program has afforded me not only greater self-awareness, but also enormous cultural appreciation; so far, during this study abroad program, I have realized these two things go hand-in-hand.
It is often that American citizens visit a country with little to no knowledge of the native language; they just expect people, around the globe, to speak and communicate in English. But often, through American citizens’ decision to not acclimate themselves to the native language or because of the accessibility of the English language, people miss out on a huge chunk of the cultural experience. Dining, to me, is one of the most distinctly European cultural experiences. The notion of afternoon tea, cake and just lounging around by a restaurant window is European.
The cultural immersion is an incredibly influential learning experience. Ordering food, whether it be a cappuccino, bratwurst or cheesecake, in German and food shopping are absolutely thrilling and enthralling. Learning a new language rejuvenates and revitalizes, what I consider, some of the most mundane tasks in the United States.