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Germany Study Tour brings opportunities

News Reporter

Published: Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Updated: Wednesday, February 23, 2011 01:02

Germany Study Tour brings opportunities

Teresa Kelly

 

Last month 21 University of Rhode Island undergraduate students visited Germany as part of a 10-day study tour to provide them with career awareness and language immersion.

Sigrid Berka, director of the International Engineering Program, said that the main focus of the study tour was to introduce students to companies and museums for potential internships if they choose to study abroad in Germany next year. She said it was also an opportunity for seniors to explore prospective job opportunities. Students on the tour visited companies such as Hilti Corp., the car company BMW and the railroad company Deutche Bahn.

Students visited southern German cities which included Munich, Stuttgart and Regensburg. Berka said that many of the students on the tour enjoyed Regensburg because of the medieval feel it had.

The Germany Study Tour program has been at URI for more than 10 years and each year students go to different places. Previously students would take buses around the country from city to city. This year the program used more public transportation like the subway where students could navigate around by themselves.

This year students were involved in a case study with the railway system. Students were asked to design a train for the German railway and the winners were given a prize in the end.

Berka said the trip was funded by the German Academic Exchange Program, and to keep costs at a minimum, students stayed in German youth hostels.  Berka said that each room held about four to six students and they had internet access. The hostels also served breakfast for students which saved a lot of time and money, Berka said.

"The hostels were a great place to stay for the students while in Germany," Berka said. "Not only were they more economically friendly, but they also served as a place for students to meet other students from all around the world."

She said that when it came to the language barrier, students were able to understand a lot more than they thought they would. Even students who have taken German 101 were able to communicate effectively.

"Students were absorbing the language and tuning their ear to it," Berka said. "Toward the end of the trip most of the students were ordering in German at local bakeries without any problems."

Next year the study tour is planning on traveling to Germany around the same time. Berka said that they have not yet decided on where to tour, but she said western and northwestern Germany are possibilities.  Berka said the program is considering adding a classroom aspect to the program where students would take a German class in the morning and visit different locations in the afternoon.

"I'm thinking about going on the study tour next year," sophomore Andy Blajda said. "It looks like a great experience and a different kind of way to become more familiar with a foreign language."

The program will start advertising next October and will be looking for students by November. If students have any questions they can contact Professor Berka at sberka@uri.edu.

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