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Posted June 17, 2015 by
Tags: My Wheaton Global and Experiential Learning

Wheaton in Germany: Three Lessons Learned

Wheaton in Germany 2015: eight students and a professor traveling Germany and Austria for two months, soaking in the culture, history, language, and daily life of Germany. We have already learned enough to fill a book, but here are three of the most notable lessons I’ve learned so far:

1. Speaking exclusively in a foreign language is both fulfilling and challenging. 

An integral part of the Wheaton in Germany program is language immersion: we communicate almost exclusively in German, with only one hour of English per week. It’s so encouraging to speak German with Germans (and my fellow classmates) and realize that I can actually carry on a substantial conversation. I’ve also encountered some unexpected challenges. I had no idea how many English idioms I use until I realized that common phrases like “running errands” or “that hits the spot” don’t translate directly into German. In addition, it’s surprisingly difficult to switch back into English: it takes me a while to adjust to the particular bent of the language and abandon German mannerisms.

2. German culture is not monolithic. 

There are many different facets to German-speaking cultures, so abandoning stereotypes and actually learning to know the history and background of particular people and places is crucial. There are strong cultural differences and allegiances within state boundaries that become even stronger across borders. We spent this weekend in Vienna, and it is a city unlike any other German-speaking city I have ever been to. It straddles the boundary between East and West, and feels much more exotic to me than Munich. Because German culture is so diverse, we Americans need to be particularly sensitive as we begin to unravel its intricacies.  

3. Our home is with Jesus and the community of believers. 

My mom always said that home is where family is, and that doesn’t mean only biological family. As believers, we are deeply linked with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We have the opportunity to stay with German host families during our trip, and I have found that in spite of cultural differences, we share a deep bond through our shared faith. And so after only four nights with a German host family, I feel as if their apartment were home, since they welcomed me so sincerely as a sister in Christ. It’s a powerful reminder that our ultimate home is not any one place on earth, but in the kingdom of heaven.

Fredrikson, Kate '17

Kate Fredrikson ’17 is a junior studying English Literature with a German minor. Photo captions (Top): Wheaton in Germany students on an alpine hike in Garmisch; (Above): On a tour of a cloister on the Fraueninsel on the Chiemsee (left), and students grabbing a quick meal in Augsburg. Let us know about your summer experiences using the hashtag #MyWheaton.