For Language Academy student, Samantha, learning German has been a journey in personal enrichment, connecting her to her roots and to her family.
Learning German, for me, was more important than just a class or a grade. My mom's side of the family is from Austria. I wanted to learn German to connect with them and to better understand them. The Language Academy gave me the confidence to communicate with my family, without worrying about my grammar or accent. At the end of the summer Academy, I spent the whole three-hour car ride home speaking in German with my mom. It was one of the best feelings I've ever had. I could communicate with and understand a native speaker, someone who wasn't a teacher (or an expert at deciphering my circumnavigations). I still feel my head spin at the memory. I’ve used my newfound knowledge every day since. I even text my aunt and talk to my grandfather in German, their first language.
Learning a new language is far more than learning new words. It is learning a new way to think and to understand. My family’s experiences are more real, their words more true, and I am so much closer to them now, because I can understand their language.
I hope to learn more about my family history and their lives in Austria, especially during World War II. Speaking German helps me understand the way things were, not just a translation of it. Austria is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been, and I hope to live there some day. I don't know what I want to do with my life, but many fields (including biology, which is my area of specialization) use German. Mainly I just want to communicate with as many people as possible and understand more of the world than I do now.
My thoughts are no longer defined by my English grammar, my English words. I can be whoever I want to be. The rules are different. Even in English, I feel like my mind has grown. It feels bigger, more open. I have a part of me that only makes sense in German. My mind isn't what it was, and it never will be.