For several years now, students of German in the Modern Languages Program at Vanier have had the opportunity to participate in a three-week student exchange trip to Freiburg and Berlin in Germany, this year, from May 23 to June 15, 2014. This trip, which has been in place since 2001, is organised and under the direction and management of Alain Forget, Coordinator of the Modern Languages Program at Collège Ahuntsic.

Alain Forget accompanied a group of his own language students as well as two students from Dawson College and one of our Vanier College Modern Languages Program student, Iliyana Micheva. The students found the trip rewarding, enriching, and exciting.

The group stayed the first week in Berlin where they explored the rich cultural diversity within the city, and, where the group engaged in a German language course, easing the students into their immersion of German. Illiyana had the following to say about this first week: “The classes were actually extremely fun and useful. Martin, our teacher, knew exactly what we wanted to learn about Berlin, German culture and he quickly adopted his teaching level to our German language knowledge. He used music  videos, short movies, photographs, taught us current Berlin street language and encouraged interaction at all times.

Staying with host families allowed the students full immersion into German family life and culture. Group excursions to surrounding towns, Basel in Switzerland, and to Strasbourg in France, provided additional stimulation and experience.  The value of the cultural and linguistic immersion to our participating students is extremely valuable as can be gathered from Iliyana’s own account: “By the end of the 2 weeks stay [with the host family in Freiburg], the goodbyes at the train station were heartwarming.”

In the meantime, Iliyana has graduated successfully from Vanier College. She is happy to endorse and encourage other German students at Vanier to take advantage of this exchange trip to Germany. Iliyana tells us, “the organization of this trip was mind-blowing for the price paid! It was just the right mix of thoughtful, in advance preparation (tickets, great facilities, the apartments in Berlin), German seminars and some carefully planned day excursions to other cities and enough freedom to explore and organize things on our own. Alain and Martin, our teacher in Berlin, and our host families were very receptive of our needs, always ready to tailor activities to our needs and/or give advice if we wanted to explore something else.”

We would like to thank Alain Forget of Collège Ahuntsic for all his effort and the Ministry of Sports, Leisure and Education of Quebec (MELS) for funding 50% of the student’s costs.

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