A taste of Germany

Language has never been a barrier for JMU senior Morgan Robinson.

I sat down with Morgan last week after learning that she had been chosen by the German Academic Exchange Service as Young Ambassador for the 2012-13 academic year.

The organization she represents, Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst — or DAAD for short — promotes higher education in Germany. Every year, DAAD provides 80 scholarship for foreign students to study in Germany. According to their website, DAAD supports international academic cooperation and offers programs and funding to more than 50,000 individuals every year. Thanks to the encouragement of her German professor at JMU, Morgan applied for and received a DAAD scholarship.

Morgan spent last year studying abroad in Munich, Germany. “I did a very full year abroad,” she says. The experience was perfect for the senior from Richmond, Va., who is majoring in modern foreign languages, German and French.

She spent her first few weeks abroad with a host family, learning quickly that “textbook German is not what’s used.” She also learned that “southern” is not peculiar to the United States.  Germany also has a heavy southern dialect that Morgan learned.

It was just the beginning of a rich learning experience.

She moved to an apartment in Munich with “two burners and a mini-fridge,” a phrase she now uses as the title of her blog. Living only ten minutes from the university, Morgan was positioned in the middle of everything, she says, and there was a whole lot going on.

Morgan Robinson (’13), fourth from the left, and her fellow DAAD Young Ambassadors

“It’s such a rich culture,” she says. It is not unusual to come across a gathering of people celebrating a 250-year-old tradition.

Morgan took full advantage of the opportunities presented her. She hiked in the Alps and visited 11 countries during her 11 months abroad.

On a whim, she emailed the author of a foodie blog, which she had followed. To her delight, the blogger put her in touch with two chefs in Munich who took her on as an intern during her long winter break. “It was not in the plan at all,” she says.

She participated in cooking classes and worked with a cookbook writer. “There was lots of networking,” she says of yet one more benefit of her study abroad.

Her semester classes began in October after a three-week orientation program. German classrooms, she found, were different. A typical class has 300-500 students, she says, and grades are based on one test or one presentation or one essay. Hearing that for the first time was intimidating, but after talking to her professors, Morgan realized they were eager to work with her and interested in helping her learn as much as she could.

And learn she did. Over two semesters, one October through February, and the second April through July, she studied German and French, German history, and German literature. She also took the opportunity to learn Norwegian, “while she was there,” she says. “Learning a new language in a classroom where the baseline language is another foreign language is a really good way to see how a language is built.”

The year in Germany changed Morgan and altered her career plans. She went to Germany planning to pursue a Ph.D. in language to someday teach. But her fortuitous internship with the two Munich chefs changed those plans. Now the self-described “foodie” is interested in a career in food media.

Back at JMU for her senior year, Morgan is finishing up her honors thesis, a study of German and French fairy tales, including how they are used in socializing. She’s also eager to talk about studying in Germany.

And when she’s not working at Shank’s Bakery in downtown Harrisonburg or studying, she’s weighing whether she’ll study next at New York’s International Culinary Center or perhaps France’s famed Cordon Bleu.

To learn more about DAAD and the Young Ambassadors program, visit https://www.daad.org/page/YA2012
To follow Morgan’s culinary adventures, visit her blog: http://twoburnersandaminifridge.com/
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About James Madison University
This blog is about the people of James Madison University — a caring, committed and engaged community spread all over the world, making lives better and brighter, healthier and safer, kinder and bolder. As Gandhi suggested, we are taking steps to BE the CHANGE we wish to see in the world. And these are our stories....

2 Responses to A taste of Germany

  1. Pingback: A year of living bravely | James Madison University's Be the Change

  2. Pingback: F.A.Q. Bachelor Studies in Germany | BSAAG

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