Becoming Fluent in More that One Language

CATEGORIES: October 2015

Adam Grimm’s primary major is German, with a minor in Russian Studies and a minor in History. He also has a secondary major is in Horticulture, with an emphasis in Turfgrass Management. Below, Adam shares his memories from a 12-week summer study-abroad trip to Germany.


This past summer I had the opportunity of a lifetime, as I was able to spend 12 weeks in Europe studying and experiencing the German language and culture. My stay consisted of nearly four weeks in Frankenthal, Germany and another four weeks in Haltern, Germany.  In addition to these weeks, I spend about two weeks in England and another two weeks of traveling and visiting other major cities in Germany, such as: Cologne, Berlin, Hamburg, Stuttgart, Heidelberg and several other smaller cities in between.

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During my stay in Frankenthal I traveled daily by train, to my German language course, which was about 20 miles away in Mannheim, Germany. This course was an intensive four hour session of German, which was held at the Goethe Institute. In addition to this course I was also able to spend a lot time with several of my German friends in Frankenthal, as we often went to festivals, restaurants, and parks.

My stay in Haltern allowed me to continue experiencing the German culture and language as I travelled around the Cologne area of Germany. By this time my language course was done and I was able to focus on experiencing the everyday life of Germans’. I often found myself exploring the city of Haltern on my free time, which helped me develop a better understanding of life there.

The most memorable experiences for me were actually just spending time with my friends in both main areas. Fortunately, I was able to stay with Jasmin Bauer, a good friend of over ten years, when I was in Frankenthal; and Katherina Grünewald, who is studying abroad at ISU within the WLC Department, when I was in Haltern. With each friend I was able to experience their culture and daily life.

In addition to my studies of German at ISU, last year I also began studying Russian as a minor. Knowing that later in my college career I will be expected to test out of two foreign languages related to my primary field of study, and realizing how much the German program at ISU has helped my proficiency of German, I decided to not only get a head start in a second language, but to also get the needed foundation to continue learning the language and experiencing the culture long after my academic studies are complete.

Quickly after beginning Russian, my interest in learning the language grew to equal that of German, and it has grown enough now that I hope to study LGBT rights in both countries during the first half of the 20th century. My eventual goal for my foreign language interests is to become as fluent as I can in both languages.