In May 2012, we congratulated James Stratton, a student of German and Hispanic Studies, on the award of a summer school grant by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). James Stratton was one of two students of German in Culture, Language and Area Studies to be awarded a summer school grant by the DAAD. The DAAD grants are designed to provide students of German with the opportunity to attend a summer school in Germany at a location of their choosing to develop their skills in the language and to immerse themselves in the culture.

James Stratton is fourth from the left

James, who is now in the second year of his studies, chose to spend four weeks in the city of Leipzig. He has recently been in touch with the CLAS blog to report back on his experiences. “When I received the award from the DAAD”, he explained, “I was, in spite of my excitement and enthusiasm somewhat anxious and apprehensive to leave the comfort and safety of my home native country in adventuring out into what seemed a foreign, unfamiliar country. However, upon arrival I really was astounded by the reception by the course leaders and the amazing people around me.”

“On the first day we were all invited to a party at the Moritzbastei: a culturally significant building situated in the heart of Leipzig. After a quick introduction from the course leaders and lecturers it was announced that there were students taking part in the course from 24 different nationalities: right the way from South America, through to the US and Canada right to the back end of China. We all had to converse in German, which really helped to boost our skill in speaking. We all wanted to improve our German and at the same time we wanted to explore the country, and it was this combination that really brought us together.”

James also described his learning and social experiences at his chosen language school in Leipzig: “Every day we had language lessons from 9am until 12. In these lessons we would focus on the cultural aspects of Germany and of Sachsen in particular.  All of the lessons were delivered through the medium of German. After 10 minutes into the first lesson I really forgot that I was speaking the language and I focused more on the lesson content itself, which is one of the best ways to learn a language. Thanks to my amazing teacher Herr Eichler, my language skills really did improve dramatically.”

“In addition to the morning language classes we also had phonetic classes, followed by several extra evening activities such as bowling etc and weekend excursions to Berlin and Dresden. Despite the challenges of learning, we had plenty of free time to wander and experience Leipzig. I went out with my friends who, I hope, have become friends for life. We spent our time in the pubs and bars, visiting concerts or simply just relaxing. Even though I was in another country, miles away from home, it was impossible to feel lonely! “

James concluded by telling us that his only disappointment was at having to come back to the UK: “The only disappointing day during my one month DAAD experience was the day we had to return home. I learnt so much, not only from the teachers and course leaders themselves but also the other students. I really did learn much more than I had anticipated, not only about the German culture and way of life but also about the wider world. The DAAD course was not just a German language course, it was so much more than that. It was a course in which encapsulated both language, culture and leisure, based in amazing city, together with some really remarkable people.”

Congratulations again to James Stratton on his award. Liverpool students wishing to know more about the opportunity of applying for a DAAD summer school grant should contact Ms Miriam Stoll, who is the DAAD Lektorin in German at the University.