March 26 2013
Royce Lee, MILR '13
This winter break, I spent three weeks in Berlin. During this time, I took a German language immersion course at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and also learned more about German and European culture in my day-to-day life. I found the experience to be extremely enriching academically, professionally and personally. This cultural and linguistic experience complements my studies at ILR and will be very helpful in achieving my future career goals.
I have studied German since high school, and my main purpose for spending winter break in Berlin was to improve my language skills. While I have taken German courses at Cornell and found them to be of high quality, it was a brand new experience studying at Humboldt University. Not only did I improve my communication skills, I also learned about German culture and history as it pertained to Berlin. This was an unexpected surprise and greatly enriched my experience.
I also had many opportunities to practice my German in the city. Whether this was at the grocery store, pharmacy or at a restaurant, I was constantly being challenged. I had learned much of the vocabulary for day to day living in my previous German courses, but never had the opportunity to apply it. I also picked up many small phrases and colloquial vocabulary that I would probably not had the opportunity to learn in a classroom. I felt that the course, along with the linguistic immersion helped me achieve my goal of improving my German. These skills bring a new facet to my ILR education, and together, equip me well for a European career in HR.
I also explored Berlin and marveled at the architectural and historic marvels that were peppered throughout the city. I toured the Bundestag (German Parliament) and the Kanzerlamt (Office of the Chancellor), where I learned about modern day German politics. One of the highlights was the GDR Museum, where I learned more about the types of conditions East Germans lived in before the fall of the Berlin Wall. These experiences were eye opening and highlighted the impact that the past 50 years has had on modern day Germany and how culturally, the country is still quite divided.
Next year, I will be spending a term in Berlin as part of my studies at ESCP Europe. Spending three weeks in Berlin gave me a great opportunity to preview how life will be, and has also helped advance my language skills so that I might be able to take courses taught in German. The dual degree with ESCP will help round out my studies at the ILR School so that I am well equipped for an international career in HR. Without the International Program Office’s funding, I would not have had this amazing experience. I am grateful to the school for having provided me this opportunity. It was great to know that I can create my own international experiences to complement my ILR education and that I was able to receive have financial support from the ILR School.