By Garrett Kost
At MMI, we pride ourselves with practical and useful knowledge through application both in the classroom and in real life. But little do we actually get to test the latter. For me, a student of the German language and culture for three years, the ability to try out my skills is limited to my class or those rare occasions where one can speak in German a little or barely at all. In my opinion, one can study a language for many years, but until you use it in conversation with a native speaker, you could never even think of becoming fluent. Finally, my chance came with this trip. While there, I could practice my skills and see how well I do.
Upon the conclusion of this trip, I feel as though my German skills have improved through both conversing in German and immersion of the culture. Culture, just as important as the language itself , is taught simultaneously through literature, food, songs, and random knowledge. German, Austrian, and Switzerland have three distinct cultures that are all loosely fastened together. Each does, however, have qualities that tell it apart from the other. And understanding and noticing the difference definitely helped define the culture of not just the individual countries of Germany, Austria, or Switzerland, but also the Germanic culture as a whole.
Besides the academics, this trip helped develop my character. Being alone and self-sufficient for around a week wasn’t so difficult, but also being in a different country is quite the feat. My independence, self-responsibility, and awareness definitely improved, thus leading to the greater good of the whole tour group. Besides personal factors, we also developed in a social aspect; making friends with the Floridians on our tour or even getting to know each other better. But in the end, we worked together as a group to accomplish our goal of touring a small portion of Europe and making the most of our tour.
Finally, the part that leads me to desire another trip; the fun. While the trip was educational, it was also fun. Enjoyment was gained through the multiple city tours, food stops, views, nights in hotel rooms, and importantly the fantastic views. Sharing stories, laughing, joking, thinking, singing, playing games, are all part of the fun of trips, and this was no exception. Through this communal enjoyment, I feel as though we’ve bonded more than ever, becoming a tight-knit group of individuals who experienced a Spring Break of a lifetime.
Many consider the option for studying abroad and deduce that it won’t be for them. Despite your wish to study Math, Science, History, or English, if you have the opportunity to travel…go. Go and adventure. Go and explore. Go and experience. Go and have fun. Altogether this trip really changed my life. No matter where the next trip will end up, I know that if this option comes again, I will go. As the world becomes more globally connected through the internet and communication through a click of a button, becoming international citizens is a key point for success in life. And whether you may travel for fun or for education, always remember, life is about the journey, so go out and get lost.