University Summer Courses

University Summer Courses

The summer of 1990 I took a University Summer exchange course to Germany. The purpose was to learn German. These things cost a fortune, and I was already an advanced German speaker, but I needed another certificate. This course was my ticket to the social work program I was applying to attend.  I paid the fees and waited for my fellow students to cross the Atlantic and join me. I was already in Europe.

Thinking back, I remember having fun at the beach and our lack of respect towards locals (I thought nothing of at the time.) Nudity, missing bikini tops, hairy legs and underarms caused a near constant giggle. Unfortunately, I have no memory of learning that summer.

One day our German professors joined us at the beach. One of them was an older man, very overweight who had apparently consumed too many beers, and too many bratwursts. As he undressed in front of us, he was wearing a tiny yellow speedo. We named it the banana hammock, which became the in-house joke that summer.

What did I learn? Hmmmmmm less than at the people's school where I had been learning with refugees! I had fun, I paid a huge fee and received a much needed University certificate. 

This is not the way to learn a language, and I promise you I didn't learn German here. If you want to learn a language, go by yourself, take local classes and don't laugh and judge the people... go hang out with them instead. 

And yes to you parents, be careful which summer exchange program you choose. Make sure you're realistic about what you're getting. You might not want to spend thousands on a program where they learn nothing. They can have fun at home!

—Allison Ochs Social Worker M.S.W. , Coach, Expat, Mother of three, Wife