When people ask me how long I have been learning German for, they are always surprised to hear me tell them that I began studying it properly at university. Having always wanted to learn German since dabbling in it a little at school, Cardiff offered a brilliant opportunity to start right from the beginning, alongside studying in my other chosen subject, history. This wonderful opportunity is one of the best things I have enjoyed at Cardiff University, as all students studying humanity subjects, such as history in my case, are encouraged to take up other subjects in their first year. This truly broadens your mind and not only introduces you to new avenues and pursuits but also gives students the chance to realise dreams, such as mine, to learn a new language. The beginner’s course is intense which is to be expected when starting from scratch, but the excellent teaching and support I received lead me to continue with my studies in German and change my degree from single honours in History to joint honours with German after the first year. The main focus is on the language itself, however the course also introduced me to famous German literature and films which proved very interesting and enriching. I have found that studying a language like German wonderfully compliments a subject like history and provides variety to my degree.
As part of my degree scheme in German, I have to spend the third academic year in a German speaking country and so far this has been the best of part of studying the language. For the last three months I have been working as an English language assistant through the British Council in Hamburg, the second biggest city in Germany. Cardiff has many links with German universities and you can also arrange your own work placement if you’d prefer, however I jumped at the chance to experience the German school system first hand which has been a great way of engaging with a wide range native speakers including teachers and pupils. There is so much to do and see in Hamburg and also great transport links to other beautiful nearby towns like Lübeck and Bremen, so there’s plenty to explore and lots more to be done in the next six months I have here. I would say that living in a German speaking country is the best, if not the only way to truly master the language and to understand the culture at a deeper level. I have learnt so much since living here and I have been pleasantly surprised at how much my German has come along simply by speaking the language the majority, if not all the time. Next year, I will begin my fourth and final year at Cardiff and am really looking forward to putting the finishing touches to my studies. I’m confident that having a degree in German from this university will stand me in good stead for the future and I’m looking forward to the diverse opportunities that will be open to me, having a degree in this language firmly under my belt.