“My exchange to Konstanz was unbelievable. I could not have asked for a better summer experience. I only took one month of German classes at Konstanz, but it did not feel like school at all. Every day was an adventure, learning new things, meeting new friends, and uncovering the diverse culture of the area. The program consisted of people from all over the world; it was so interesting to really get to know these people, and it really widened my perspective.
During the weekdays, I would go to class in the morning, but I would have the entire afternoon free to do what I wished. I would often explore the city, visit one of the nearby islands, go to the beach, or some afternoons the university would put on fun events (which were really great to connect with all the people in the program). Each night I would go home to my dorm room, which was right across a field from the university. I shared a flat with some other German students, which was great because it helped me practice my German.”
The OBW-IBH summer program was far greater experience than I could ever have expected. It is always an adventure to travel alone, especially to another country on another continent, but it is something else entirely to travel so far for academics. The program not only allowed me the invaluable experience of getting to learn German in the country of its origin, giving far more of an immersive experience than can be experienced while learning the language while still in Canada. Not only was there the opportunity to experience German culture and language, the IBH program also opened up opportunities to learn of other cultures thanks to close classroom interactions with students from all over the globe.
Nothing prepared me for arriving in an absolutely magical place on the Bodensee (Lake Constance). Coming out of the train station, you see Lake Constance stretching into the distance with the Alps rising up in the background on one side and the Rhine flowing into the distance on the other side. It is nothing less than breathtaking.
The program itself is impeccably organized and welcoming activities are planned right away so that we spent the first night at a Biergarten getting to know people in the program. It’s amazing how many different countries and programs are represented in the program, all united by a desire to learn German. The actual German-learning aspect of the program is intense and much more effective at teaching you the language than a year?long course at an English-speaking university could ever be.
Throughout the month, programming was a perfect mix of learning German and exploring the four countries surrounding the Lake (Germany, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Austria). We took trips to hike in the Austrian Mountains, explore 1300?year?old castle ruins, see the Prince of Liechtenstein and hang out at the beach. There was something to do for everyone.
As amazing as that was, the best part of the program was by far the opportunity it provided for interacting with such plethora of different people. The international scope of the program and the social activities organized by IBH provided the perfect atmosphere for building friendships. These are friendships that nothing but spending a month learning German together on the shores of a breathtaking Lake in Europe can build. They are friendships that have seen more affection in a month of sharing an experience as phenomenal as the IBH program than years of other friendships have. They are friendships that will last a lifetime.
So if you are even remotely considering applying to the program, GO FOR IT. DO IT! It will hands down be one of the most magical experiences of your life and you will come out of it with new language skills, a camera with pictures of magnificent mountains and sparkling lakes, hundreds of unforgettable memories and friends in all corners of the world. Do not hesitate, just do it.
My favourite part of the program was that learning was not restricted to the classroom materials. I learned more about myself in this month than I ever could have anticipated. I met some of my closest friends in Konstanz, and we have one of the most eclectic cultural backgrounds imaginable. This program brings so many countries and cultures together, it is truly a life changing experience. In fact, I am having a hard time even turning my experiences into words. I will carry both the German skills, and friendships acquired in Konstanz with me forever….
The classes are really fun and I learned a lot in a short month. They’re split up by level and it’s great because this ensures a good pace and small class sizes. My class started to feel like a small family and we all got along very well.
The only problem with this program is this : it’s too short! The month goes by really quickly and it is extremely enjoyable. Between hanging out with friends, travelling, going to class and hanging around Konstanz, the 4 weeks in Konstanz fly by! I have never had so much fun.
Since the program I feel more confident and independent. My passion for the German language has grown and my need to travel has multiplied. I now have some new and meaningful friendships and fond memories that will last a lifetime.
I can’t think of a better way to spend the month of August than in the IBH program.
I had such an amazing time in this program that once I had settled into my room and the scheduled activities had started, there was never a dull moment. I was never nervous, nor homesick. In fact, when the time came to go home, I didn’t want to leave! This program changed the way I perceive the world and other cultures. I got to spend a month with students from over 20 countries! I also became more confident in my ability to handle unfamiliar situations. I fell in love with the German culture so much so that I am looking into taking an entire semester or even a whole year at a German University. If you are still hesitant about participating in the OBW – IBH Summer School, you are missing out on an experience of a lifetime!
My knowledge of the German language was pretty limited when I first landed in Frankfurt. From the minute I stepped off the plane I was immediately immersed in a culture that I didn’t know a whole lot about. Every person I interacted with improved my language abilities. The language course in Konstanz was intense. The class moved fast, but I felt myself catching on rather quickly. I found some elements of the language were a bit hard to grasp as we started. Being somewhere that the language was spoken everywhere helped me to understand in no time. I feel as though I was able to learn a lot in one month and believe I now have a solid foundation on which to build my German language skills.
Learning was my main reason for being in Germany, but not all learning took place inside of a classroom. The opportunity to speak with people who have diverse backgrounds and who come from all over the world was incredible. Although in class I learnt about the German language, it was in beer gardens sharing pints with new friends where I learnt about the culture, the politics and everything else. I couldn’t have expected I would have learnt so much about so many diverse cultures during my time in Germany. Every conversation I had provided an opportunity to learn, it was incredible.
Travelling alone for the first time this summer has been an eye-opening experience in its own right. All of the planning that went into organizing the travel, from flights, to hostels, to trains was taken care of by myself. I also experienced living on my own for the first time while I was in Germany. I learned the joys of having to shop for groceries, clean laundry and tidy the apartment. It was also quite an experience having to navigate foreign cities where I did not speak the native language. I have a new sense of self confidence after overcoming all the challenges I encountered during my time abroad.
It was hard to come home after such a terrific summer in Germany. Aside from the few souvenirs I bought, I’ve brought with me a wealth of experiences that I’m sure will last a lifetime. I’ve been provided a really unbelievable opportunity by having been accepted to participate in the OBW program for which I’m truly grateful. I definitely recommend this program to any student interested in learning German, and I hope that they can take away as much from the experience as I have.
The program will be what you make of it. You have every opportunity to learn, grow, enjoy yourself, and make wonderful memories. If you are after a rich, cultural experience, you will find it. If your interest is mostly in language learning, you will be amazed at how much you can learn in just one month! And if you mostly want to kick back and relax on the beach, Konstanz has lots of those too! I did not come across a single participant who did not have fun and make at least a few good friends. When we said ‘good-bye’ on the last day, most of us were in tears. I will close with some advice I read on the OWB website before I applied: If you get the chance to go on an OBW exchange, go! Don’t even think about it! You are pretty much guaranteed to have the time of your life.
New adventures, new friends, new experiences and new stories. It is easy to say that that sums up my month of August in Konstanz Germany. The OBW exchange to Konstanz is a life changing experience. It alters your life not only in an educational sense but also helping you to explore yourself as an individual and to grow and experience new things.
Partaking in the OBW exchange was the best choice I had made; especially for my educational career. Attending the Universität Konstanz, I was able to enhance my German speaking and written skills through actual native German speakers. That in itself is a wonderful experience.
Indeed the educational aspect of this exchange has helped me in many ways; however, I believe the most influential part of that entire exchange was through all the activities and travels I had experienced. This has helped me grow as a person by experiencing the new cultures, foods and music. Experiencing the German culture first-hand was phenomenal. Being able to travel to Lichtenstein meeting the Prince, hiking down the mountain in Austria, walking from Konstanz to Switzerland are all experiences I thought I never would have had the privilege to do. Seeing the history in each city I had travelled to was mind blowing. Swimming in the Rhine River – Bodensee was captivating. Something I will never forget.
What made this whole experience even better was meeting people from all over the world and being able to share those experiences with them. We were able to learn each other’s cultures as well as the German culture together too. Class was always fun with these people too because they were so outgoing and fun. The teachers were just as fun as my peers.
Would I recommend the OBW exchange to Germany? Definitely. If you want the experience of a lifetime, try it. After all, what is there to lose? Nothing. You grow as a person, figure out who you are and things you like and of course learn a new language. This was definitely one of the best life choices I have ever made.
After spending the month of August with OBW at the University of Konstanz, I can say only one thing to those considering doing the same. DO IT. Don’t even ask questions – just do it! Without a doubt, enrolling in the summer school course of IBH was the best decision I have ever made, and it was the best month of my life; hands down. It was fun, it was educational, and it was a life experience everyone should have, and learn from….
If you are afraid of being alone, and not fitting in; then don’t be. Everyone was looking for a friend, and there was in no way a ‘clicky’ feeling with groups. You hung out with whoever you wanted! Lazy afternoons were spent swimming by the pier, or lying on the beach. And in the evenings we would go stroll along the old town, or go out for dinner….
If you want to learn German, this is the way to do it. I learned more in one month than I have in two years of studying the language. I believe now that the way to learn a language is simply to go immerse yourself in it. Hearing it non-stop and being able to practice it freely was fascinating. Also, I made the choice not to hang out with Canadians. I decided to stay with the people who were not native English speakers, and it helped me learn more German, as well as other tongues.
In conclusion, I cannot stress the amount of fun I had on this trip. Everything about it was fun, interesting, and a wonderful experience. I HAVE NO COMPLAINTS. But what I appreciated the most was the people; my fellow students. On the very last night, my group of friends and I were loitering around the cobblestoned streets of the old town at three in the morning, dreading every passing second, because we knew it would be the last time we would see one another (at least for a long time). I’m not going to lie – tears were shed. But we still talk online, and plan to see each other on future European vacations.
One final thought – I have always wanted to do an academic exchange. However, I felt that it would be a little long, and worried I wouldn’t like it. Now I realize I would be fine. But in any event, this program was a Perfect COMPROMISE. It was only one month, and I got my travel fix, met new friends, and got school credit for it.
Do it. You won’t regret it.