I learned a lot about the language acquisition process during my SLA experience. The two teachers that I had had very different approaches. One was more focused on building up our basic grammar skills, while the other prioritized vocabulary. Both certainly have their advantages in acquiring a new language. I engaged by doing my best to interact with as many locals as possible and observe how their daily routines and habits differed from ones in the United States. My teachers were also a valuable source for explaining cultural differences that were important to know, such as the fact that jaywalking is not at all allowed or practiced in Germany. I definitely feel like I met my goals for language learning that I set for myself. Both my grammar and vocabulary have improved, and I learned a ton about German culture. Finally, I was able to interact with fantastic people from all around the world.
I have gained valuable insights from my SLA experience. The most self-altering aspect of the trip was meeting people from all over the world and learning about them and their cultures. I met people from approximately 30 different countries, and got to know the Germans very well. Different approaches to life, such as the importance of family to the German people, the laidback, caring nature of the Argentinians, or the environmental attentiveness of the Danish are all wonderful traits that I would like to incorporate into my own life. I always thought that learning about other cultures would be valuable, but this SLA experience totally confirmed and reinforced that belief. My main recommendation to anyone who was considering applying to SLA or another language program would be to talk to as many people from as many different places as possible. Learning the local language can deepen your immersion within a culture, and widen your horizons even further.
Firstly, I plan on using my language and intercultural competences in my Notre Dame classes. I am taking Intermediate German II in the next semester, and then I plan on continuing my German education for the rest of my four years and beyond. The SLA experience grew my love for travel, language learning, and cultural immersion. I would really enjoy another opportunity to take classes in Germany, or even get an internship or a job there. I think that working in a foreign country would be a totally unique experience that could build on the skills and expertise that I accumulated during my SLA program. As I move forward personally, I believe that my SLA experience has made me a more worldly person, and increased my respect and understanding of other cultures and peoples. I have grown to love the city of Munich, and I sincerely hope that I will get to live among its wonderful people once again in the future.