My five months in the land of the Germans is finally over. It was over pretty much exactly a month ago now, but alas, life has swept me off my feet and I haven’t been able to document my experience sooner.
So, let’s get down to it…
I was in Germany from the beginning of September until the end of January. I spent my time there working at a translation company, for which I had no real previous experience out of the university sphere. Whilst there I also maintained my training at a local club, TSG Freidrichsdorf and completed a couple of university assignments remotely, to allow them to monitor my language progression.
Did I enjoy it?
Frankly, no. I spent a lot of my time jetting back and forth whenever I could on the weekends to spend time with family and friends. Having travelled quite a bit previously, and spent months at a time away from home on my own, I didn’t think this would be an issue. However, I did miss home a bunch! The work I was doing was also relatively limited and didn’t keep me particularly busy which I don’t think helped. In addition to this, I was staying on the outskirts of Frankfurt which meant that the public transport links weren’t particularly fab. I used to have to spend at least an hour waiting at the train station for my train to arrive after training three or four times a week. In the snow this wasn’t so much fun!
Did it improve my language?
Yes, hugely! For the Erasmus Programme you are required to take a language test prior to your arrival and another a couple of weeks after your departure. These tests are then scored on The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (ECF). My score from my arrival to departure on these improved significantly. I think it is very hard for your language to not improve during this period as you find yourself completely immersed in the culture and language. In my case I was living, working, training and sometimes dreaming in German for five months! I must confess I used to listen to Capital every morning for a small dose of home and English.
Would I do it all over again?
At this moment in time, I’d have to say no. Especially not a repeat of the experience I had. I am however extremely grateful for the work experience and language improvement it has given me. Without sounding completely preachy I’m also appreciative of what it’s taught me about myself and plainly what my core values are.
Would I recommend it?
With having said above I wouldn’t do it all over again. I would still recommend working/interning abroad. It’s not easy – you have to adapt very quickly to the culture and general mannerisms, especially in a working environment and it can feel like an awfully long way from home, BUT it teaches you so much more than you would get from a parallel internship/job in your home country. Plus, future employers seem to like it!
What would I do differently?
I would make sure I was located much more centrally, with good transport links and go for a bigger, corporate firm. I think I’d also try and network on expat sites etc. prior to my arrival so I knew there was a little support network already out there of like-minded people.
Have you been on a year abroad? Or are you on yours now? How are you finding it? I’d love to know!