Sadie Kurtzman from Mansfield, Ohio reflects on her time as a summer intern for the Institute für Deutsch Sprache und Kulture’s international summer academy.
Witt in Witt
I arrived in Germany in January with the 2022 Witt in Witt program from Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio. Each year, Wittenberg University sends a group of 2nd and 3rd-year students to Lutherstadt Wittenberg for a semester to study the German language, culture, and politics. Because the program had been canceled in 2021, the university made an exception and allowed me to participate in the study-abroad program, even though I was in my final year of university. I joined a group of 14 other students and we spent the spring term studying, traveling, and enjoying the culture of small-town Germany.
At the end of the program, I was extremely reluctant to return to the states. I had fallen in love with Wittenberg and Germany in general, and I did not yet feel content to go home. Stefanie Rieger needed an intern for the International Summer Academy program and I all but begged her to let me stay and work in Wittenberg for a few more months. I returned to the state for a short time in May to graduate and receive my Bachelor’s degree in English, then I was back on the plane to Berlin!
International Summer Academy
The first group of five students from the University of South Carolina arrived on May 30th. I spent the first week traveling with them to Berlin and Dresden. The following week,14 more students arrived in Lutherstadt and the month of June was filled with trips to Leipzig, festivities for Luther’s Hochzeit, and daily activities with the students. The next month, 67 students from 33 countries arrived and I spent the month traveling, engaging, and getting to know their diverse cultures through their love of travel, literature, science, and German culture.
Traveling Through Germany and Europe
Living in Germany provided incredible opportunities for me to see much more of the world –opportunities that are practically non-existent in the states. While I traveled a lot with other students from the Witt in Witt program in the spring, Germany’s 9-Euro ticket made it so easy to see so much of the country this summer. I visited Bavaria, Hamburg, the Rhineland, the Black Forest, the Ostsee, and so many other beautiful parts of Germany by utilizing the regional transportation system. During a week-long break between Summer Academy Jully and August, I had the chance to visit Ireland and Scotland, and even got to spend a weekend in Italy. Germany is perfectly positioned for easy travel throughout Europe and allowed me to experience so many environments, cultures, and people in a very short amount of time.
The final group I have gotten to meet and work with – 29 students from 15 countries – arrived last week. Since then, we have traveled to Leipzig, Berlin, and Halle, and spent time outside of class, exploring activities around Wittenberg. I will have to leave Germany before the August group finishes their program, but I am glad I had the chance to meet and interact with them before returning home.
What Now? – Some Reflections
I am beyond lucky to have had the chance to live in Germany and work with so many intelligent, adventurous, and wonderful students from around the world. My interactions with them and my travels throughout the continent have given me broader perspectives of the world and its people. I will return to the states a more empathetic, independent, and culturally sensitive person than I was when I first arrived in January. Next week, I will begin a position as a graduate assistant at an International Baccalaureate school in Michigan where I will be engaging with students whose goals align with becoming world-wise and culturally aware citizens of the world. I would have never had the courage to even apply for such a position without the experience and confidence I gained through my internship here in Germany. Thank you Frau Rieger, Frau Wittig, Frau Schubert, and everyone else who gave me this opportunity and helped me feel supported and successful. I will never forget the people I have met or the things I have learned during my time abroad, and I am ready to pay it forward with a new group of students back home in the states. Auf Wiedersehen!