Greetings from Canada
My name is Elsa, I come from Canada and I am currently doing a year abroad here at Goethe School. I arrived in Germany in late August and I will be staying in Bochum until June with my host family. Here is my perspective of Germany as an exchange student:
I attend classes in the eleventh grade (Q1) such as German, Philosophy, Social sciences, History etc. However, I really enjoy the theatre class and history project class; I believe they offer the opportunity to be creative and allow students to see a result in their hard work invested throughout the year. So far, I have gotten to know most of the teachers and students in my surrounding. I have met some very interesting people not only in my classes but also in other grades. My acquaintance with the international class was particularily beneficial because it helps me see the culture in Germany from a different point of view. In my opinion, there are some noticeable differences in the education system here compared to Canada. For example, in Germany, students are expected to analyze several works of art, historical sources, quotes to help develop critical thinking, which was not common in my own school. Because of this, classes are structured by students discovering information themselves, rather than teachers showing students only one solution to a complex problem. This also makes out for very independent and invested students. Another difference I have noticed is how flexible the school is here. In Canada, everyone has five obligatory classes per day and the choice of subjects is not available until the last year of high school (the choices also being very limited). As for every day life here, it is also very different. For example the infrastructure; the public transport is very efficient here. As for the eating habits, I was definitely not prepared to eat so much bread and potatoes while staying here! Outside of school, I take accordion classes and participate in an orchestra at the music school. I also occasionally take part in courses offered by the Bochum Volkshochschule. In Canada, cities are very spread apart and often don’t have much history or culture to learn about. Being very interested in the latter, I consider myself lucky to have the opportunity of visiting so many places here in Germany, because every city is unique in its own way and has many historical sites to visit. Even the Goethe school itself is a beautiful historical building, still being fully functional and incorporated into an equally stunning surrounding. Because they don’t offer foreign language classes in my former school, it has been difficult to communicate with the German I had learned on my own, but I have definitely noticed an improvement since the beginning of the year. At first I was unsure about how to improve my German, but I find that I learn best by observing. Whether it’s by watching a movie in German or reading a German book, the language comes a lot more naturally than studying it for hours (although I could still put a bit more effort into learning the impossible grammar!). The main reason I wanted to come to Germany was to know what it feels like to be immersed in a culture and I think that it will help me improve on the other languages I am learning. I believe that this experience will help me prepare for my future studies as I plan on applying for universities abroad. I am grateful for being so warmly welcomed in the Goethe school and I am happy to answer any questions!