University of Sydney students in the Reichstag government building in Berlin, Germany

Experience Germany: expanding horizons with overseas immersion

15 August 2023
Gaining global perspectives with new language and intercultural skills
Learning a new language overseas unlocks new skillsets and possibilities for the future. Finance and Computer Science student Ryan Fung shares what he gained from his experience in Berlin, where he learnt the German language for the first time.

Ryan Fung in the Reichstag building in Berlin, Germany

Did you know undergraduate students can learn a new language through intensive overseas units with the University of Sydney’s partners? Since 2018, over 200 University of Sydney students have embarked to Germany and gained new language skills through first-hand experiences of contemporary German culture and society.

We caught up with Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Advanced Studies student Ryan Fung, who recently gained new German language skills with partner institution Humboldt University and explored the city of Berlin and its surroundings.

What was it like learning German with our overseas partner university in Berlin?

We were taught in small classes by fantastic teachers at Humboldt University who ensured lessons were interactive and practical for life in Berlin. Practising daily with classmates greatly accelerated our learning. I definitely didn’t expect to master so much in 10 days!

Why did you choose to learn German?

My main motivation was to expand my horizons. German specifically appealed to me as a means to open up doors for future career opportunities in Europe. By reducing the language barrier, learning German has also made travelling so much more engaging.

What were some of your cultural immersion highlights?

I loved visiting the World Heritage palaces in Potsdam and enjoying warm mulled wine and waffles at the Christmas markets. Tours to Kreuzberg, a district in Berlin known for its diversity and arts scene, and the Tränenpalast, a border crossing between East and West Berlin, really highlighted Berlin’s unique history.

What valuable skills and new perspectives have you gained?

I hope to work abroad. I’ve gained a passion for learning about different cultures and their history because of how rewarding my time in Germany was. This experience also really increased my independence and planning skills, and also allowed me to meet many other University of Sydney students from outside my discipline.

Language learning opens your mind up to new ways of knowledge retention, and this helps me throughout my degree and beyond. I gained global perspectives and learnt to adapt to intercultural differences which will be highly useful for my future.
Ryan Fung, Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Advanced Studies (Computer Science and Finance majors)

Why is expanding your linguistic and cultural horizons important in our world today?

In our increasingly global world, understanding a wider range of languages and cultures opens up doors everywhere and provides a competitive edge in your career. You’re able to meaningfully connect with more people, and also re-evaluate and appreciate your own cultural customs and language.

What advice would you give to other students about learning a new language overseas?

Use what you’ve learned in the classroom outside – it’s the best thing about doing an in-country language unit! It builds your confidence and you quickly realise how useful even basic phrases are in making life overseas smoother.

Worth 6 credit points, In-Country Experience units are open to undergraduate students with little to no language experience to gain new language skills through cultural immersion with our partner institutions around the world.

Browse more photos on Ryan's Experience Germany album and watch his Berlin highlights video on Facebook.

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