I have been getting a lot of questions about where I am and what’s going on, so I decided to write a brief summary of what I’ve been doing, what I will be doing, what the CSU IP program really is, and how it works here in Germany. I have also included some photos at the end to make it more interesting.
1 Februar, 2015: Submitted my application to CSU IP Germany
16 März, 2015: Received my acceptance letter (!!!)
März-Juni: Submitted further documents, attended two orientations, took necessary photos, applied to scholarships, booked my flight, etc.
10 Juli: My birthday (very important to know)
4 August: Arrived in Stuttgart, Germany. Traveled by bus to Tübingen and checked into a youth hostel.
4-7 August: Two days of orientations with 44 other students from California, with some other shenanigans in between
7 August: Traveled to Horb-am-Neckar, 30 minutes south of Tübingen. Met our host families and moved into our rooms. I lived with the Zink family in Ahldorf with one other CSU student, Nick. We had a host sister from Russia, Anna, who finished her program at Hermann-Hesse-Kolleg and moved home a week after we arrived, and another, Jessica, who arrived from the Italian part of Switzerland a week before we left. Six other CSU students lived in Ahldorf, and two of them lived in our host Aunt and Uncle’s house and shared our backyard.
10 August: Began our PLP at Hermann-Hesse-Kolleg in Horb. Class went from 9-3 Monday through Friday, and I believe there were 4 different classes into which we were sorted based upon our results on a placement test. My class was originally in Zimmer (Room) Nine, which was located in a separate building from the Kolleg, so we formed a strong bond from the beginning. After three weeks our teacher, Franz, left to prepare for the classes that he teaches at the University, and we moved to a room in the Kolleg with a new teacher, but remained Zimmer Neun (immer).
29 August: Quit smoking cigarettes!
August-September: Every Saturday we went on an excursion to a university town within the state of Baden-Württemberg, totaling in six cities: Ulm, Stuttgart, Heidelberg, Freiburg, Konstanz, and Ludwigsburg. Lots of castles, churches, and trains.
18 September: Final test for the PLP. Going away party at the Kolleg with all of our instructors and host families.
21 September: Moved into our dorms in Tübingen. I live in the Französisches Viertel (French Quarter) with two students from Morocco and three students from Germany
23-26 September: Trip to Istanbul, Turkey with two other CSU students who also lived in Ahldorf
26 September-3 Oktober: My brother, David, and my dad came to visit. Tübingen, Stuttgart, Munich, Oktoberfest, Spaß!
8 Oktober: Academic orientation. 16 students were deemed advanced after leaving Horb, and we were removed from the Learn German program and placed into the Advanced program. This basically meant that everything we previously understood about our academic plans for the semester were totally different. More details on that below.
9 Oktober: Geography orientation. I am the only Geography major out of all the CSU students, so I attended this one alone. Fortunately, my roommate is also a first semester Geography major, so I have been able to pester her with all my questions.
12-21 Oktober: Most classes at the university began; my Geography classes the first week, and our Deutsch als Fremdsprache (German as a foreign language) classes the second week.
23-25 Oktober: Trip to Switzerland with some close friends from the CSU Program
24 Oktober: 8 weeks smoke-free!
29 Oktober: Placement test for our Aufbaukurs, or our advanced German grammar course. I achieved B-1 fluency, so I’m that much closer to my goal of C-1 by next July!
2 November: First day of our Aufbaukurs. I was in a class with three other CSU students and about 15 or so other students from all over the world, which was pretty awesome.
17 November: Lamb of God and Children of Bodom in Stuttgart
18-22 November: Berlin excursion with all of the CSU IP students from all over Baden-Württemberg!
29 November: Thanksgiving dinner with our amazing program coordinators and some faculty
1-6 Dezember: Schokoladenfest in Tübingen. Yes, a chocolate festival. Yes, I know.
Dezember: Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas Market) in Tübingen. Sooooo excited.
19 Dezember: Momma arrived from California!!! 😀 😀 😀
23-26 Dezember: Trip to Innsbruck, Austria
28-29 Dezember: Brussels, Belgium
29 Dezember – 1 Januar: London, Groß Britannien. Mom flies home and I go back home to Tübingen on the first. =[
Frohes neues Jahr!
2-6 Januar, 2016: Trip to France to visit my lovely friend Sophie!
7 Januar: Courses officially resumed
12 Februar: First semester officially ended
21 Februar: Hozier concert in Köln
19-22 Februar: Köln
22-26 Februar: Hamburg
25 Februar: Trip to Schwerin
29 Februar: 6 months smoke-free!
2-10 März: Trip to Greece
März-April: Some students transferred to other universities in Baden-Württemberg. I chose to stay in Tübingen, along with 19 other students.
16-30 März: A special someone came to visit! Trips to Amsterdam and Wiesbaden
11 April: Second semester officially began
16-20 Mai: Pfingstenferien (Pentecost Break) – cruise around the Baltic Sea (Sweden, Estonia, Russia, and Finland)
27-29 Mai: Trip to Prague
29 Mai: Rockavaria in Munich!! Iron Maiden, Sabaton, Slayer, Anthrax, Ghost, Gojira…and so on
10-12 Juni: Second trip to Switzerland
16-21 Juni: Trip to Morocco
28 Juni-5 Juli: My best friend came to visit!
10 Juli: My birthday (still quite important)
23 Juli: Second semester officially ended
CSU IP stands for California State University International Programs. There are programs available in at least 18 countries around the world that allow participants to study abroad for one semester to one year (or more) and earn credit at their home universities in California. Each program for each country is a little different, so I only have specific information for the Learn German and Direct Enrollment programs in Germany.
The Learn German program is a year-long exchange program through the German state of Baden-Württemberg, designed for students who have taken less than two years of German. Students spend the first semester at Universität Tübingen, and may transfer to any university within Baden-Württemberg for the second semester. For this program, students also spend six weeks from early August to mid-September at Hermann-Hesse-Kolleg in Horb, a small town about 30 minutes south of Tübingen. At Hermann-Hesse, students participate in a Preparatory Language Program, or PLP, which is designed to accelerate all students to a proficient level of German. We lived with host families for these six weeks, scattered about Horb’s many satellite villages, and a few students even had to take the train to school because they lived farther away, in Sulz.
When students in the Learn German program arrive in Tübingen, there is a pre-arranged schedule of classes to take, the only variant being the Aufbaukurs, which is different based on language ability. As I previously stated, some students in the program became advanced enough to be removed from the Learn German program, and we are now considered Direct Enrollment students. We were able to construct our schedules completely independently, which proved to be incredibly difficult. I decided to take the Aufbaukurs, which focuses more on grammar and comprehension of the language. After the first half of the semester, this class split into two classes, and we were sorted into each based on our individual areas of need. I was placed into Hearing/Speaking and Writing, both at the B-1 level.
I am also taking two classes from the department of German as a Foreign Language, which count toward my German major at SSU. Quasselkurs, the first class, is a class that teaches us how to speak less formally and is a lot of fun so far (schwuppdiwupp is one of my new favorite words). The second class I chose, Panorama Deutschland, teaches us more about German history and culture, so that we can understand better how it came to be the country that it is today.
In addition to my German classes, I am taking one lecture for my Geography major. This is completely in German, so it has been quite challenging so far. I spend a lot of time translating Power Points (when they are available online, that is) and the rest of the time trying to stay focused at 08:30. Fortunately, this course for first semester Geography students, so I am not completely lost among complex concepts. These classes add up to the equivalent of 18 units at my university back home, but 3 or 4 of the units will be applied to our summer semester, so I will not have to take so many classes next semester. PLP earned us 6 units as well, so I should have a total of around 36 units when I finish the year, depending on how many units I take next semester.
That’s basically it! I will be creating a post soon including tons more stuff about life in Germany, and it’s gonna be pretty interesting, so that’s something to look forward to. In the meantime, here are some photos to check out. Thanks for reading!