Canadian Summer School in Germany
A Typical Day in the Program
A Typical Day in the Second-Year German Immersion Class (Gillian McCarron)
I’d start my school day by waking up around 07:00, getting ready for school, and eating breakfast in the kitchen while chatting with my host Oma. Then I’d head off to class. I rode my bike every day; I was lucky to live close enough to the school to do so.
We had class from 08:30 to noon. Our 2000-level class was split into two groups. My group had only eight people and the other group had twelve. In the first half of class we’d usually learn a new grammar topic. Afterwards, we’d have a break where all the students would head over to the Tor Café and get a coffee or a snack. After the break we did activities related to the novel we were reading, worked in groups creating posters or free-speaking, and often sang German songs and created choreography for fun.
At lunch we ate in the cafeteria. The meals were pretty tasty and only cost about two to four euros for a main dish, two side dishes, and a drink.
After lunch I’d go back to the Tor Café and do homework with my friends. Working in small groups was useful because you could bounce questions and ideas off each other and help one another.
Afterwards at about 15:00 or 16:00, I either headed home or hung out with my friends in the inner city, which is only a ten minute tram ride away from campus. In the city centre there are many restaurants and shops to visit, as well as museums and other historical buildings.
It’s easy to get around Kassel with its vast transit network.
Evenings I would eat supper with my host family, ask them for help with my homework, maybe play some soccer with the kids, and watch TV until I went to bed. I normally went to bed around 23:00.
A Typical Day in the Fourth-Year German Immersion Class (Lily Climenhaga)
A typical day in the program for the 4000-level students usually consisted of rolling out of bed, for morning people like me, at around 5:00 or 5:30 then having a quick shower, about ten to fifteen minutes long. I would then eat my breakfast before going to make sure I’d packed everything I was going to need for the day: homework, a snack, and all my books. I rode the bus and the Straßenbahn for about a half hour to the university, but there was always another Canadian student with you on the bus or someone to talk to.
I got to the church school where our classes were held at around 7:45 and would stand and talk with the instructors or other students until Thomas, the caretaker of the church, unlocked the doors at 8:00. Classes ran from 8:30 to 12:00 with a 20 to 30 minute break at around 10:00. My instructor, John Plews, made the classroom a fun and trusting environment. We would spend our three hours of class singing, reading, working on grammar, and free speaking. We would usually start the class with a vocabulary quiz from the novel followed by meditation and stories from our days.
After class, a group of friends and I would go to the Mensa for an inexpensive and generally good lunch. Afterwards, a 4000-level student can expect to do homework for between one and three hours and get any help they might need from any of the instructors. After homework I would either stay in the city centre and hang out with friends or talk with the professors or go home so I could eat dinner and go to Jujutsu or spend time with my host family until, at around midnight, it was time to go to bed.
A Typical CSSG Day (Emma Tunney)
Classes started every morning at 8:30am for me this meant rising at 6:30am, which wasn’t always easy; however, over time I adjusted to early rising. Naturally I got ready, ate breakfast, and was out the door by 7:20am. Bus rides were actually a really fun time of day. Other CSSG students and sometimes their host siblings rode the same buses so it was always a good time for chatting or last minute cramming for vocabulary quizzes, which at the 3000-level we had every other day, nothing too stressful, just ten words and sentences.
When we arrived at the church school where classes are held there were always people collected outside, namely the professors. I found that if had a question or wanted to make an appointment that was a good time to do it, also it was just a good way to practice speaking. I particularly enjoyed asking the TAs for the translations of rather unusual words or expressions.
We began class either with a vocabulary quiz or by discussing the vocabulary list that had been assigned. I found it great that we were encouraged to explain the new words with other German words that we knew. It really reinforced what we had learned and forced us to think in German. We studied a lot of grammar, and although grammar is not usually a favourite of students, it usually went really well. For me, it was the variety of activities that we did that I liked.
We did partner work, reading, workbook activities, we sang songs that incorporated the new grammatical concepts, (how the professors found such songs I’ll never know), and we spoke to each other. Eventually it seemed as if the things we learned were just naturally absorbed, rather than pounded into our brains through panicked study the night before an exam. We also read a novel. In our year it was Der Vorleser. At first the idea of reading a full-on novel in German seemed ridiculous, but I am happy that this was a part of the course. We would have discussions about the novel and through this we improved our speech and for me I found that my connection to the language was made much stronger.
Of course classes ran from 8:30 until noon, so we had a break. During break most everyone would go to the Tor Café and have a snack or a coffee (truly the hot chocolate and apple cake there are amazing). I think one of the things I liked best about break was the chance to mix with all the students.
After classes, most often people ate in the Mensa, but I really preferred the delightful Nordpol Café. The food there was a bit more expensive than the Mensa but not by much and the coffee was well worth it. After lunch the professors would be outside of the Tor Café to help students with questions and homework. For me this was so helpful, not only did it make homework more fun (and definitely more silly), it was an opportunity to talk to different people and relax.
I tried to have dinner with my host family when I could, and that was always great. They were always willing to help with homework or navigating the bus schedules. Kassel may be a small place, but there is no shortage of things to do in the evening. We would go to the movie theatre, pubs, restaurants, museums, landmarks, and swimming. Perhaps the most fun were the weekly trips to salsa night. Lots of students and professors turned out and we always had a laugh. One of my proudest moments: when I explained a salsa dance step in German.
I very often went to bed around twelve, some nights a bit later. There was always so much to do and see, and I never wanted to waste any time.