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Travel & Exchanges

Travel & Exchanges

Working with German

What can German do for you...?

By Hannah Smith

I chose to study German for GCSE, A Level and a four-year degree (along with Italian) at the University of Oxford. Here are some of the best things I've been able to do thanks to learning and staying involved with German...

At the football stadium

Traditional paradeFor part of my university degree I spent six months of my year abroad in Germany, in a town called Cottbus, right between the two exciting cities of Berlin and Dresden but also offering the opportunity to cycle to the border with Poland in under an hour. As a language assistant at a secondary school, my job was to expose the students to English in contemporary society, so I was essentially given free rein to use QI episodes about German stereotypes, song lyrics and lonely hearts ads. In turn, the teachers, pupils and other people I met there invited me to some very interesting places, ranging from eccentric bars in Dresden to, for example, a village "Bird Wedding", an intriguing local tradition in that part of the country!

Having now completed my studies, I’m heading back to Germany for another year. This time I’ll be working in nature conservation, initially in Hamburg and later on the islands and coastal areas of the North and Baltic Sea. These are increasingly popular tourist destinations and the project I’ll be involved with aims to allow people to enjoy and benefit from being in such a fascinating natural landscape while actively protecting the environment itself from harmful human activity. Think dramatic cliff scenes, chilly but unspoiled beaches and lots of birds and seals… German-speaking birds and seals that is, of course.

Hannah SmithAll in all I would say that learning any language, as well as being a challenging and fascinating pursuit in its own right, is a fantastic gateway to all sorts of new opportunities in life. If you want to travel, work and meet interesting people in an international level, having a good command of a second or third language is the key to making the most of it!