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Why I learn German in a Time of Pandemic (Emma Stuart, German 202) 

Submitted by Michael Neininger on May 21, 2020 - 4:04pm
Emma Stuart
Emma Stuart

I’ve always kept my interest for German language and culture on simmer in the background while making my way through college. Before Covid-19 was on any of our radars, I finally decided to study German abroad in Vienna for the spring, my first trip to Europe. But two weeks before departure, all study abroad programs were cancelled and then our spring quarter was moved online. I could never have foreseen that suddenly I would have to move back home either. My situation took a total 180 turn, as probably all of the lives of students at University of Washington did. Within weeks I went from expecting to study in Austria to facing an online quarter quarantined within the four walls of my childhood bedroom. I should be allowed to admit I was not excited.  

As classes progress one thing has kept me going, and that is German. My classes and professors in it have been essential to my sanity during a quarter that has pushed my limits. We have banded together over a culture far outside our state borders with surprising ease through the screen, which I cherish that ability now more than ever. During my daily classes I get to place myself outside of the neighborhoods I’ve walked for most of my life into countries I’ve never been to before, and, coupled with quarantine, that is as close to immersion as I can currently get. Most of all what keeps me committed to school right now are my German professors, who have such diverse interests that it is hard to believe they belong to only one department. They are genuinely who are keeping me hopeful and inspired to learn during a chaotic and upside-down time.

It has been and will be a slippery slope for every one of us. I had to readjust my expectations from having an immersive learning experience abroad to leaving behind any form of a physical campus. Still, I get to feel inspired from this department I get to take part in. I consider myself lucky to be reminded every day of a future in which there are possibilities to see the world again.