As Orientation finally came to an end, I was finally given the opportunity to take part in actual classes in the university. During the day, I had to sit through Media classes, and in the evenings, I had German language classes with the other Erasmus students.
Before we began our official classes, we had the opportunity to pick what classes we wanted to participate in. It was important that the number of classes we took totalled to 60 credits. Here is a list of the classes that I chose:
- Film- und Kinosoziologie
- Empirische Medienforschung
- Foko-Ikonen: Die Geschichte hinter den Bildern
- Qualitát im Fernsehen: Dokufiktion
- Judische Figuren in Film und Literatur aus der DDR
GERMAN LANGUAGE STUDIES
- Aussprachetraining (Pronunciation Training)
- Sprechkompetenz (Speaking Skills)
- Mittelkurs 1
- Deutsch: Sprechkimpetenz
- Deutsch: Mittelkurs 2
As you can see from the names, all of my classes were in German! That itself was going to be a big challenge for somebody whose first language was English! I was in for it!
You would notice that one class doesn’t fall under Media Studies – Jewish Figures in Film and Literature from the GDR. As a person who had a great love for history, when I saw that they were offering a course in learning about important film and literature that arrived after the Second World War, I signed up immediately. I’m glad I did because there was a lot to learn about the culture that came into Germany after the end of Nazism.
The class involved studying films that were released mere years after the war as well as stories detailing the lives and brutal realities that Jews were forced to endure. There were two movies in particular that stood out to me: Ehe im Schatten about the story of a German man who refuses to divorce his Jewish wife despite extreme pressure from the Nazis and ultimately end up committing suicide to avoid the death camps. Sterne, a tragic story about a young German boy who falls in love with a Jewish girl who is imprisoned in a temporary prison for deported Jews. We has to watch and examine these films – while it was difficult to fully understand the langauge, I was captivated by what I saw. German films have a certain depth that definitely draws you in.
Meanwhile, my Media classes were different as well. I deliberately chose to study Film and Cinema Sociology because I had always been interested in the inner messages of films.
In Germany, the pass system is different to what I’m used to. While in Ireland, your grades are A-F, in Germany, the grades are 1-6, with 1 being the best and 6 being the worst. If you get a 5 or a 6 in a German exam, then you have to repeat. I was really hoping that wouldn’t be the case for me!
Thankfully, it didn’t .come to that. From what my results showed, my German improved…slightly! I passed my Aussprachtraining with a 1.7 (B+), my Sprechkompetenz with a 2.7 (B) and my Mittelkurs with a 3.0 ©. Before, I could only scrape a D in German so to get these results was really satisfying for me! 🙂
I also passed my Jewish Figures in Literature and Film exam with a 2.0 (B). This oral exam was a first for me and my lecturer – according to him, I was the first Erasmus student that he had ever had for an exam – that’s an honour in itself I suppose! For this, I had to prepare information about three different topics- I chose two different films ,,Ehe im Schatten’’ and ,,Sterne’’ along with talking about the Stereotypes of Jews used throughout the years. Having studied the Holocaust previously in my History classes, this wasn’t too difficult for me!
Also, I achieved something that I have never got before in my college years – I passed my Film and Cinema Sociology exam with an A+ (or a 1.0 in this case!) For this, I had to prepare a topic of my choice for discussion. Thankfully, I was able to speak in English, but I printed out an essay that I had written in German and gave it to my lecturer. He was very impressed with my topic and the amount of research that I had put into. So my A+ (I mean 1.0!) was well-deserved for this module, wouldn’t you agree?
These achievements certainly gave me a boot of confidence with my studies and my language skills. It gave me the belief that I could go even further with everything. I finished my first semester at the University of Trier a very happy person.
My next Erasmus post will move away from the classroom and out into society. I did a lot more than study during my year abroad!