“Sprechen sie Englisch?” I repeated the phrase over and over in my mind as I exited the airplane cabin, stepping for the first time into Amsterdam. I told myself that I had to remember to ask any Dutch or German person I met the question – “Do you speak English?”. As I began to travel alone, my dependence on the English language truly started to set in, as did my fear of being unable to communicate in a different country. Even though I myself am bilingual, and have traveled abroad many times over the course of my life, I still fear being misunderstood, and, foolishly, being judged for my inability to speak German. The “UF in Osnabruck” program is going to change that.
After a seven-hour flight and a three-hour layover, neither of which permitted me any rest, I arrived in Europe sleep-deprived but excited and eager for what the next semester would hold. I rendezvoused with the rest of the students participating in the program, and for the first time, we were all able to talk and get to know one another – the people that we will be living with for the next month and a half. Together, we bonded over our mutual jet-lag, lack of German communication skills, and excitement for the weeks ahead. We spent the train ride from Amsterdam to Osnabruck perusing the German dictionary, in awe of its complexity, and comparing our vague knowledge of the language with English. For many of us, it is the first time that we are the “foreigners”, and that label could be a difficult adjustment. However, I personally believe that this new perspective is incredibly beneficial, as it allows us to step outside of our comfort zones and work on our interpersonal communication skills as we attempt to “fit in” with the locals. It is my hope that my fellow peers agree with that belief.
As I submit this first blog post, our student group is gathered around the common room table, awake at midnight, powered by our jet-lag, watching television in a language that we do not yet understand, and it is moments like these that make me excited for all that the world has to offer with all of the people that I have yet to truly get to know.
Pictured above are the empty streets of Osnabruck on a Sunday, when many stores are closed, along with a building showcasing the beautiful architecture of the University of Osnabruck Applied Sciences campus.
If you’d like to reach out or having any questions about our trip, contact me by using the form below!