Matthew Walck, The College of New Jersey

ESC Ambassador Matthew Walck, student at The College of New Jersey

Matthew Walck, ESC Fall semester student from The College of New Jersey

What is your favorite course that you took this semester and what made it so?
My favorite course that I took at the ESC was Experiential Learning. This class allowed us to travel to multiple parts of Germany and engage in a wide variety of cultural experiences such as the city of Berlin, Schwetzingen Palace, the Mercedes-Benz Museum, the Heidelberg Castle, as well as much more. The class required students to research the places before we visited, which helped to prepare us. The most helpful part was the requirement to keep a journal with weekly entries. These entries are great to look back on to see how much I have accomplished during my abroad and how I was feeling at the time.

What was the most challenging part of living in Germany, and what did you do to overcome that challenge?
The most challenging part of living in Germany was being away from friends and family for so long. I was able to keep in touch with them via video chat and messaging apps on my phone, which helped to an extent. What really helped with this problem was making new friends at the ESC so I could enjoy my time here and stay busy by traveling with them.

What is the most interesting thing about German culture?
The most interesting aspect of German culture to me was how reserved the Germans act, and I really like this. Germans are not nearly as loud or expressive in public as Americans are. They are much quieter and tend to keep to themselves or speak softly with the people that they are with. They also do not wear bright colors or dress flashy in any way. I am a more reserved and quiet person myself, so I feel like I sort of fit in in a strange sort of way by being around so many people that tend to hare these traits.

Name one thing that you wish you had known before you came abroad?
Before I had gone abroad, I wish I had known the German language better. I had studied German for the first time in college, but I came to Heidelberg only remembering a few basic phrases. While it is not necessary to speak German while attending the program, I think that it would have been very useful when traveling on my own. Being in Heidelberg has definitely improved my knowledge of German. The best way for me to learn was by practicing outside of the classroom with people I met while traveling or even just clerks at a store. This has helped me get a lot better at understanding and speaking German. I still wish I had practiced more before I went abroad because it would have helped accelerate the learning process even more.

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ESC Ambassador at The College of New Jersey