Intensive German Language Course in Hamburg and Berlin for Youth 2019

1st week of the Intensive German Language Course (1st-7th July)

Monday 1st July
On the first course day, the group was welcomed by their teacher Maria, who informed them about the programme and all activities what awaits them. With several games the group got to know each other. Afterwards they learned about the sights in Hamburg.
In the afternoon they made a rally through Bad Oldesloe to get to know the surroundings of their accommodation. They were really happy to see how many possibilities they have for their free time (e.g. table tennis, soccer, volleyball, canoeing). After the rally all groups got together and had a very tasty ice cream. A nice and smooth start into a wonderful week.

Tuesday 2nd July
In the language course the focus remained on Hamburg. They learned the Hamburg-anthem “Hamburg, meine Perle”. The groups were separated into so called expert groups. Every small group got some information on a sight in Hamburg and prepared an “expert presentation”. They also prepared posters to show their sights to the group.
In the afternoon the group visited the city centre of Hamburg. As they had their expert groups, who could tell, who is e.g. working in the town hall (mayor, senate, parliament) or about the height of the church St. Michaelis (also called Michel), they learned a lot. One of the highlights was to climb the tower of the “Michel”. From the platform they had a beautiful view on the city centre and the “Hafen-City”. As it was really windy, they went down and visited all the other sights from near.

Wednesday 3rd July
In the language course the children could show, what they learned about Hamburg in the last two days. They made a quiz, which brought lots of fun. The winner got some sweets. The quiz also showed, that the group still did not know everything about Hamburg. So in the afternoon the group headed to the Hafen-City, the new heart of Hamburg. They admired the architecture of the Elbphilharmonie, took the ferry to the Landungsbrücken, had a short look into the old Elbtunnel (which was used by shipyard workers 100 years ago to cross the river Elbe by foot) and took again a ferry to Dockland where they counted the 150 steps of the building. From there they had a beautiful view on the bridge over the river Elbe and headed to the Elbstrand (a small beach at the river Elbe), where they had time to relax and to make beautiful photos. With the bus they got back to the main station and from there to Bad Oldesloe.

Thursday 4th July
In the morning the group got input on German grammar and learned vocabulary on meadow flowers and forests. Maria explained how to examine and proper describe a flower with the help of a special description-form. In the afternoon the group had a hike through forests and meadows surrounding Bad Oldesloe. They enjoyed the beautiful landscape and the fresh air very much. During the trip they examined some of the meadow flowers and categorized them on their description form. The mix of outdoor adventure and science brought a lot of fun.

Friday 5th July
During the language course the children presented their description forms on flower meadows. It was really interesting to see, how detailed they observed their flowers. They learned a lot from each other. Another grammar topic were subordinated clauses. They also learned a bit on Lübeck, the city which they would visit on Sunday (especially on old professions of the time of the Hanseatic League). But the main topic was „Cowboys and Indians“. The chieftain „Häuptling“, the peace pipe „Friedenspfeife“, the campfire „Lagerfeuer“, cowboy and squaw „Indianerfrau“ were vocabulary they needed to understand, as in the afternoon they headed to a famous outdoor spectacle in Bad Segeberg, which is famous for its Western-theatre. The play was very impressive. Everybody felt really involved in the story, as if they would be part of a scenery in the American prairie.

Saturday 6th July
On Saturday the group had an excursion to Lüneburg, a city in lower Saxonia, with a beautiful city centre and long history. They began with a rally to discover the city. The rally began at the old crane (Alter Kran) and ended at the water tower (Wasserturm). Unfortunately it was a little bit cold, so the group enjoyed instead of summery ice cream a hot cup of tea. Even though the trip was a very good experience, as Lüneburg is a really beautiful city.

Sunday 7th July
On Sunday the group went to Lübeck, UNESCO world heritage and former “mother” of the Hanseatic league. The group saw the Holsten gate and the town hall but could not carry out the city rally until the end, as it began to rain. The group leader stopped the city tour. The whole group went to a city nearby (Timmendorfer Strand) , where they went to SeaLife. The students learned a lot about fishes and animals of the Baltic Sea but also saw some impressive sharks, huge crabs and other animals from the whole world.

Everybody has a lot of fun, feels good in the group and is looking forward for the adventures of the next week!

The second week  (8th of July – 14th of July)

Monday 8th July
To start into the week right away, the group got an introduction to the German prepositions. Not so easy if you have to pay attention to dative, accusative or genitive, but the group was highly motivated and enjoys learning the language very much. To end the lesson with something easier the group learned about the “Nachbarländer” (Neighbouring states) of Germany and the “Bundesländer” (Federal states) of Germany as well. In the afternoon the group went to the “Miniaturwunderland” in Hamburg. The students were enthusiastic about the model building worlds and spent a long time in the rooms of the museum. They found it particularly fascinating to see Hamburg on a small scale and to dream of a winter wonderland in front of the snow-covered Alps. The group was also able to change a lot with buttons and levers on interactive models and thus playfully discovered Germany.

Tuesday 9th July
In the language course the focus remained on the German prepositions. But today it was all about testing the new knowledge. The students did a test about the different types of prepositions and all did very well, even if from time to time there were still some mistakes to be made. In a second step the group learned some new nouns in connection with their articles “Der”, “Die” and “Das”. The second half of the German class was all about preparation for the visit of the “Auswanderermuseum” (Expatriates museum) in the afternoon. The students learned about some of the reasons for immigration and emigration and discussed the problems in German language. During the afternoon the group went to the part of Hamburg called “Ballinstadt”, which had been built in the 19th century to house all the people which emigrated to the Americas throughout the 19th and 20th century. The Museum was very modern and informative, which made the afternoon fly by.

Wednesday 10th July
In the German lessons on Wednesday, besides a new grammar chapter, the focus was put onto the story of Mary Poppins. The students read some texts about it in German and talked about the different morals which the story is supposed to tell the reader. In the evening the group went to the musical – and was very impressed! The singers and actors provided best entertainment and everyone had much fun. And besides that, the modern architecture of the different musical arenas in the harbour area was already worth the trip.

Thursday 11th July
On Thursday the group had planned to visit the stadium of traditional Hamburg football club FC St. Pauli. Therefore, the group prepared for the trip in the morning and got into a real football mood! First the students learned the most important terms in football like „Tor“ (goal), „Freistoß“ (free kick), „Ecke“ (corner) and „Schiedsrichter“ (referee). Afterwards they played football on the sports field. This was combined with the repetition of the German prepositions with questions like „shoot OVER the goal“, „lie ON the grass“ and „who is IN the corner“ in German. In the afternoon the time had come: The children drove to the Millerntor Stadium of FC St. Pauli and were shown the stadium exclusively by a guided tour. There was even the possibility to enter the players‘ booths, press conference rooms and to enter the VIP area. Afterwards the group went to the fan shop to grab some shirts and scarfs. St. Pauli has won some new fans today! Furthermore, at the Millerntor Stadium one or the other started to dream about a long and glorious footballing career…

Friday 12th July
On Friday the group first got to know the German school system. It was interesting to see that German students must go to school for 12 years to get a secondary school diploma. This then entitles them to study at a university. For people who, like our youth group, come from abroad, it is important to have a school leaving certificate that is equivalent to the German one in order to be allowed to study. Otherwise they must go through a so-called pre-studies programme. There was also a lot to learn about the different types of studies. The group got to know that the studies are divided into the basic studies (Bachelor) and advanced studies (Master). Afterwards, the group went to Hamburg to visit the “Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften” (HAW), to get to know the grounds of a university and to take brochures with them at the student advisory service. Then there was lunch for everyone in the University Mensa, which was inexpensive and tasted good to everyone.

Saturday 13th July
Since there are no German courses at the weekend, the group had time to visit the city of Bremen. With its beautiful old town, an impressive town hall and the cathedral, the city offers many places to explore. The students explored all this with a funny city rally. For lunch there was a typical German streetfood, the Döner Kebab. After all, tourists who did not get this taste experience can’t say that they visited Germany!
Freshly strengthened the group went to the Schnoorviertel in the afternoon. The quarter is one of the oldest in Bremen and due to its small houses and narrow alleys another must see when visiting Bremen. We had a lot of fun exploring the winding streets.

Sunday 14th July
On Sunday the youth course went to Berlin. The arrival took place in the afternoon at 5, so there was not much time left to explore this big city. To top it all off, the originally booked hotel had water damage, so the group had to move to the A&O Hostel in Berlin Mitte. However, this hostel is also very centrally located and close to the East Side Gallery. That’s why the group was able to visit it in the evening and got in touch with the Berlin Wall and the history of Berlin. Afterwards there was a giant pizza for refreshment after this long day. Everyone is very excited to see Berlin during the next week and to get to know the capital city of Germany better!

The third week 15th of July – 19th of July

Monday 15th July
On our second day in Berlin we had a plan to go outside the city and get to know Potsdam, the capital of the state Brandenburg. We were joined by our colleague Margit who is an expert for Berlin and Potsdam. We took the regional train from Ostbahnhof and in 35 min we arrived at Potsdam. From there we walked till the “Neues Palais” in the Park Sanssouci where we got an audioguided tour through this amazing palace built by Kaiser Friedrich II. for his guests. In the great rooms of the palace we learned a lot about German history, architectonical styles and more! Afterwards we walked through the gardens of the palace where we saw an Chinese Pavillion and we also saw the magical palace of Sanssouci with its great views. At this time we decided to have a little break and try a typical German pastry: Brezel! After this break we walked to the city center and ate another typical German food: Schnitzel! So with our bellies full we had a little bit of free time where we could enjoy the city life in Potsdam!

Tuesday 16th July
On Tuesday we started our day early for our city tour in Berlin. We started at Alexanderplatz where we learned about the historical meaning of this plaza to GDR (East Germany) after the war and where millions of people met to peacefully demonstrate for a united Germany! We also could see the emblematic Weltzeituhr and the TV-Tower, both of which are iconic symbols of Berlin. Then we passed by the town hall “Rotes Rathaus” and got to know the oldest neighbourhood of Berlin and its oldest church the Nikolaikirche. Here we took some audioguides and learned a lot about its history. Afterwards we walked through the “Marx and Engels”-Forum-Park till we reached the incredible beautiful street “Unter den Linden”. Here we saw some great buildings like the palace Berliner Schloss, the main church Berliner Dom, or the Altes Museum which reminded us of the Antic Greek! From there we walked to the Humboldt University and to Bebelplatz where during the Nazi period 20.000 books where burnt. Because we had already walked a lot we decided to take the bus to the Brandenburger Tor, the most emblematic building of Germany! Of course we had to take a lot of pictures. At 12 o’clock we had our reservation to go to the Reichstag, the building of the German parliament, we could visit its terrace but not its dome, because it was cleaned. Still we had a great view of the city! After lunch we had a little bit of free time to walk near the park at the Reichstag till our next tour. This time we took a boat on the Spree River from where we could see the city from another perspective. After walking almost 13 km that day we had to finish it with a fun activity: We went bowling!

Wednesday 17th July
We started our day by continuing our German course in the traditional way: in the classroom! We practiced grammar and took a test of the different topics we had; Akkusativ, Dativ, sub clauses, and vocabulary. For the ones that just started learning German, we kept learning new words, practicing the recently learned as numbers, colors, mein/dein-Sätze and lots more. For lunch our guide took us to a known hipster food market near our hotel called Markthalle 9 in the neighbourhood of Friedrichshain. Here each participant could decide what to eat from the many offers this market had; we tried some Italian, Asian and German food! After lunch we continued our city tour through the most important historical spots of Berlin: Checkpoint Charly where another war almost started. We also had the opportunity to go inside the museum Topography of Terror which is an outdoor and indoor history museum on the site of buildings which during the Nazi regime were the SS Main Security Office and the headquarters of the Gestapo. After an introduction video we visited the exhibition and learned about this dark chapter of German history. After passing Potsdamer Platz where we saw the first traffic lights of Germany, we walked to the memorial of the murdered Jews in Europe. Here we reflected about the necessity of such places as a warning to prevent this kinds of acts against humanity. As you can see, it was an eventful day. After dinner we went back to the hotel to prepare ourselves for the next day!

Thursday 18th July
After breakfast we continued our German lessons, but this time our main topic was about the university system in Germany. We started by learning about what to expect at a German university for example the difference between das Seminar and die Vorlesung. We talked about the different university departments and the main subjects you can study. We also talked about living in Germany for example how to look for student residencies or flat-sharing. Afterwards we went visiting the first university: The Technical University of Berlin. Here we’ve got an extensive counselling from the admissions department. They showed us how to look for the information, and they gave us a checklist so we do not forget what we need for the application. They showed us the importance to be well informed before application. Of course we had to eat at the student canteen, which was a little bit different than the canteen in Hamburg, for example: In Hamburg you could pay with cash but in the TU it only worked with an student ID, which we had to get first! One thing was for sure, our group did like the food in Hamburg more! So after lunch we went to the next university: FU Berlin (Freie Universität Berlin), here we had the chance to take a look at the study regulations from every main subject; we learned how many semesters it takes to get a Bachelor in Mathematics or Psychology and which courses you have to take to get your credit points. We also learned how to use the website of the FU Berlin which offers a good and interactive online orientation service. After that the group decided it was enough information for one day, so at 4pm they wanted to have a little bit of free time to go shopping at Alexanderplatz and get the last souvenirs for the families abroad. After dinner it was time to go back to our hotel!

Friday 19th July
Our last day in Berlin started with our last German lesson, but most important of all we got our participation certificates! After saying some last good-bye words and getting a big applause we got ready for lunch. This time we went to eat at the famous neighbourhood of Kreuzberg in Berlin, near the Schlesisches Tor train station. Here we learned about the immigration history of the neighbourhood and how it became a central spot for today’s Berlinese hipsters. This was seen for example in the many options of foods we had; Indian, Japanese, Turkish, etc. We decided to try Mexican food! After this food bomb which was rated as the “best meal” they had in Germany, it was time to have a little fun: Namely to go paddling at the Spree in Treptower Park! It was really fun because we try to catch each others boats and the view was spectacular. Afterwards it was packing time and for the goodbye dinner we went to eat some fancy burgers with a lot of exotic ingredients like apple sauce or honey-chilli dressings! It was a nice activity to finish our camp!