Ryan, German Academy Student
For Ryan, the total language immersion was difficult at first, but all his hard work paid off in the end, when he could finally speak German, think in German—and even dream in German.
“I had my first dream in German actually last night. It was really cool. It was kind of weird, because I woke up, and I thought to myself, wow, I just dreamed in German.
“My first day after signing the Language Pledge was pretty difficult, because I’ve been to Germany before, but in Germany, I’ve been with people who speak English. So speaking all German all the time was definitely a challenge the first day.
“I chose to come to this Academy mostly because it was that the Academy had German, but also because I wanted to learn how the things were said rather than just how you learn them in a classroom—to really have the experience speaking with native speakers as well as people who have been speaking for years, or their entire life or anything like that.
“I do think it’s important to learn a second language, because the language is really how you get to know other people, and not just staying in your bubble in America and Pennsylvania or wherever you live, but to open up and to learn other things in other cultures and how people live.
“Signing the Language Pledge itself wasn’t that difficult, but following it and sticking to it the entire time was the hard part of it. There are so many temptations to go out of the Language Pledge, to just easily say a word. Someone’s struggling with the word, trying to figure out what it means, and it’s so much easier just to say in English what it means than to actually act it out with your hands or find it in the dictionary or draw it or do anything like that. Being completely immersed in the language is different than anything I’ve ever done before.
“It’s definitely hard to do it, but finally being able to have a conversation normally, and when you’re thinking in German or when you have a dream in German or anything like that, that’s really the cool part.
“The activities here at the Academy are definitely for everyone. There’s swimming, there’s dancing, they do German schuhplattler which is slapping your legs and doing things like that.
“If I knew someone who was thinking about coming here, I would definitely tell them that it’s worth it, because living in the language and using it every single day for three to four weeks is definitely a good experience, and it pays off in the end when all the hard work comes together and you can have a good conversation in German. I really think that’s the best part.”