Memories in Munich
It’s never too late to immerse yourself in a new language or culture. Just ask University of Minnesota senior Sophie Grieger.
The native of Shorewood, Minnesota was drawn to the University of Minnesota for its many opportunities for educational growth and recreation, and she is certainly taking advantage of its diverse offerings, pursuing a psychology major along with minors in neuroscience and German. Remarkably, her journey with the German language started only recently. "I was a little late in the game," she explained. "I didn’t start taking classes in German until my sophomore year of college, but I was able to catch up by taking the intensive intermediate-level courses in the summer." This means that she was able to complete four semesters' worth of German classes in one calendar year and start taking upper division coursework in the fall of her junior year—just in time, too.
Grieger earned a GSD scholarship to go to Munich, Germany last spring through Wayne State University’s Junior Year in Munich program. Her advisor in the Learning Abroad Center and several GSD faculty members had convinced her that this was the opportunity of a lifetime, so she was thrilled to find out that she would get to participate in the program. While abroad, she took herself out of her academic comfort zone by taking many classes related to art, including art in Munich, literature in exile, a painting course, and a drawing course. When not in class, she spent her time exploring Germany and immersing herself in its culture.
As the only student from Minnesota in the program, all of the friends she made were people that she met in Germany. "At first I was nervous about that, but it ended up being fine" she recalled. "I can now say that I have friends from all different areas of the world." She fondly recalls spending time with her new friends exploring the city, hiking in the Alps, taking trips to nearby countries, or just lying out in the Englischer Garten. "One of my favorite memories in Germany was when we went to Frühlingsfest," she said. "We got a table in one of the tents, became friends with the strangers sitting around us, and stayed until the fireworks show at the end of the day."
Grieger plans to continue studies in psychology and neuroscience and hopes to use her German skills while she does. Her time in GSD and studying abroad in Munich have opened up opportunities for where she will go to school for her PhD, and she is strongly considering returning to Germany. She cannot say enough about how studying abroad has enhanced her foreign language skills and recommends the experience to all students, saying that "you will learn so much, and your time abroad will be incredibly valuable."