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Strains demonstrates opportunities for Cornell German students

August 18, 2009

After majoring in German, mathematics, and secondary education at Cornell, Jessie Strains will pursue a master’s in German at Bowling Green State University, including studies at the University of Salzburg. Her eventual goal is to teach at a German immersion school in the states, though she is also considering teaching abroad in a German-speaking country.

Jessie Strains

Jessie Strains: "I truly enjoyed having the opportunity to simultaneously work, study, and live in Germany, and I felt that I benefited from being able to experience multiple aspects of German life."

Did you study in Germany as an undergrad?
Last fall (2007), I studied abroad and interned in Bonn, Germany through a program through Educational Programs Abroad (EPA). I took two courses: one on German arts and architecture and one on politics in reunited Germany, with a particular emphasis on the influence of the European Union in current and future German affairs. I primarily had class on Fridays, leaving Monday through Thursday free for my internship.

What was your internship like?
I interned at a state-run German kindergarten in Bonn. Through my internship, I worked in a classroom with two German kindergarten teachers and about twenty students between the ages of three and six. I functioned as a third teacher in the classroom, facilitating group games and activities and interacting with the children during our time spent on art projects, playing outside, and at mealtimes. I was able to get to know each one of the students on an individual level and was very sad to say goodbye to them when I returned back to the States. I truly enjoyed having the opportunity to simultaneously work, study, and live in Germany, and I felt that I benefited from being able to experience multiple aspects of German life.

Any other highlights from Germany?
I also took two trips through my politics course: a three day stay in Paris to view the political workings and historical backgrounds of another European capital, as well as a week in Berlin to fully immerse myself in German politics. During my stay in Berlin I was able to attend several lectures by prominent politicians as well as a meeting for the German Green Party. During my free time I traveled throughout Germany to witness Oktoberfest and other important cultural centers and events, and also to Belgium and Luxembourg.

Did the block plan help with scheduling the trip?
The block plan helped make this experience possible because I was able to move around my class schedule so that I would be able to graduate on time. I received four credits in Germany: two for my internship and two for my classes, so I was not in danger of falling behind once I returned to Cornell.

What’s been best about studying German at Cornell?
I have truly enjoyed studying German at Cornell because of the small class sizes. It is very easy to immerse yourself in the language for an entire block as well as get individualized attention if you need help. Herr Connell has always been more than willing to help me investigate outside opportunities that would help me improve my German abilities.

What activities are you involved in outside class?
I have tried to take advantage of all the opportunities I have had to get involved at Cornell and am an active member of the Track and Field team and Mortar Board. I am also on the planning committee for Relay for Life.

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