Why I learn German in a Time of Pandemic (Elisabeth Case, German 202)

Submitted by Michael Neininger on
Elisabeth Case

When I heard that I would no longer be studying/interning in Vienna this spring and summer due to the pandemic, I was devastated. I had begun learning German because of my triple citizenship with the United States, Austria, and the Cherokee Nation, and have always wanted to put that in practice in Vienna, where my grandmother grew up. Instead of bringing my suitcase abroad, I brought it back home.


In a time of uncertainty, empty streets, and closed doors, the days go by even more quickly than they normally do with the quarter system. And as an extrovert living in a house of introverts, I am bouncing off walls (and taking baked goods out of the oven). I try to balance school and work with learning about what’s going on in the world (such as by reading The Morning from the New York Times) and hobbies. I’ve been playing much more piano, and I take joy in calling friends and family, chatting and playing games virtually. Whether I’m on a group video call to sing happy birthday for a close friend or playing piano for my grandparents over the phone so that they can either just listen or sing along, these small bits of human interaction bring a bit of normalcy back into my life, and I feel privileged to be able to do so.


This is also the reason I have come to appreciate my daily German classes even more: every day, I am chatting with my classmates and friends. Language classes are vastly different from my Informatics major classes in that we’re always learning about our peers so that we may better learn the language—we share how we’re doing, our likes and dislikes, what we’re angry about, and what we’re passionate about. I am grateful for my family and friends, including those in these classes, that I can still say “Hallo” to every day.


Elisabeth Case