This year I took it upon myself to learn another language during my year abroad, and have now been living in Germany for 9 months so far. My first semester here in Germany was dedicated to specifically learning the language of German, and I was able to get my German from A1 level to B1 level in the time that I have been here. Due to the level of my language progression I could transfer to the University of Ulm and became able to take my mathematics courses that will put me towards my graduation.
These courses that I became qualified to take are completely in German, and I am with other students who are mother tongue German speakers (the only one of two students in the class who are not mother tongue German speakers). Not only this but the German courses for mathematics are completely different from the American style: Different lecture styles, different courses in general (the math courses in the US are hard to completely match up with German courses), different ways of evaluating a grade
(One big test in Germany vs the grading systems of math courses in the US I have taken) and a different semester system (Fall Semester October – February and Summer Semester April – July).
Concerning the courses themselves, they are demanding even for German mother tongue speakers, the two classes I’m taking this semester: Lineare Algebra 1 and Analysis 1 have very high fail rates. The school does offer many ways to help out including a time block for a Mathlab, which are tutoring sessions that have people who are experts on the subject helping you through the homework problems. I have even been able to find tutors outside of these Mathlabs and these are crucial for helping me
be successful in my coursework. But of course it would be silly to assume that you would only need these to be successful, as studying on your own is also a crucial part of these university courses.
For me this is definitely a challenge, as the German language is not so easy to master due to the very difficult grammar and sentence structure. Not only this but the math courses I’m taking involve writing mathematical proofs completely in German and having me learn much of the mathematical vocabulary I already know in another language. But for me I also find motivation in this as well through me having the chance to really excel my German language skills. Every day, I’m having to write everything in German, speak in German, and think in German during my lectures and classes. It does hurt my head after a while (due to the fact that thinking in a foreign language is pretty difficult for me still at my level), but I know that eventually this will subside and my German will be so much better than before my started my semester here in Ulm.
Until next time, tschüss!