Did YOU study abroad?! If so, where and what inspired you to go?
Christiane: My first time abroad was as a teenager when I spent one High School year in the USA and lived with a host family. Already at that young of an age, I had a strong interest and passion to go abroad for a longer period of time, to live the life of the locals and to perfect my language skills.
Firstly, learning to speak English fluently had been a priority for me ever since I was young because somehow it was clear to me that English is an unavoidable qualification, not only to stay competitive in the international job market, but also in general -- considering the ongoing globalization.
Additionally, lots of childhood international travelling with my parents contributed a big part to my wanderlust, and a curiosity to explore the world. Through my trips to Cuba and Mexico during semester breaks I developed a passion for Latin America, wanting to get to know more countries of Central America and setting my personal goal to improve my Spanish skills starting in high school. So in 2008, I decided to go to Costa Rica for 5 months to complete an internship and travelled afterwards through most of Central America.
Why is language learning and cultural immersion important to you?
Christiane: I personally think it's not only the most efficient way to learn and understand a new language, but it's simply the only way to be able to communicate in a proper way with the natives of the country. It automatically leads to faster trust and a faster integration in the community and foreign workplace.
In order to have a strong community relationships, and a successful cooperation at your workplace abroad, it’s essential to have experienced and lived the culture, to understand certain behaviors, reactions and customs, and most importantly to have understood why some things are just different instead of just placing blame.
A true cultural immersion gives you also the privilege to create your own ideal lifestyle by picking up a different perspective from the new culture, instead of only knowing the one “extreme” from your home country.
What was your favorite traveling experience?
Christiane: My two-month trip through Mexico was my favorite one because I did it on my own and I had the time of my life, meeting so many friendly locals and other travelers along the road. It had the strongest impact on my life in terms of where to head with my career, setting new priorities and different goals in life.
I really believe that without that trip and all my other travelling I wouldn’t have went so far and been living in a tranquil beach town in Costa Rica today, preferring so much more a different living standard and lifestyle over the one typically lived in Germany.
What does your home-country's culture value that is taught in your program?
Christiane: Students always tell us that they enjoy our communicative teaching methodology which follows the 80/20 rule (students talk 80% in class and teachers only 20%) and involve activities relevant to the students (ie: lots of social interaction!)
Our Spanish courses not only teach grammatical conjugations and the syntax of the language, but also the wider cultural aspects of language and communication, with the goal of engaging and stimulating learning. It’s easy to conjugate a verb on paper but the key is to be able to use the different tenses and the respective conjugations correctly and quickly while holding conversations.