Students from 135 nations were enrolled with KIT in the 2015/2016 winter semester. It is also these students that make KIT what it is – a place, where many ideas, languages, and cultures meet. Ann-Christin Kulick and Mailine Schirmeister spoke with some of these students about internationality at KIT.
Getting Settled – All Beginnings Are Easier When You Are Two
When Bettino Crivellenti came to Germany two years ago, everything was new and German language was not very familiar to him. “I decided to take part in the tandem program to make friends more quickly and to improve my knowledge of German. Anna-Lena Sittle studied Intercultural Education, Migration, and Multilingualism at Karlsruhe University of Education. During her studies, she worked at the welcome office of KIT. Since the completion of her studies, she has continued her work there and is advising incoming students and scientists. But her interest in other cultures and languages extends beyond her working time. During her studies, she started to work in the tandem program. “At the moment, I have an Italian tandem partner. Before, some of my partners spoke English. Often, it takes some time to find somebody with whom you are on the same wavelength. But when the tandem is perfect, it also helps me a lot,” Anna-Lena says. Before she met her Italian tandem partner, Anna-Lena had learned Italian and passed a semester in Italy.
Foto: Patrick Langer, Tandemverleih: www.radrad.de
Gao Siqi comes from China and has been studying at KIT since October. “When I came to Karlsruhe, everything was new for me and I partly had problems to find my way around. The tandem helped me with respect to language, culture, and country.”
Every year, more than 100 students take part in the tandem program offered by the Studierendenwerk. At its office or via an online portal (link), students can register and indicate the language offered by them, i.e. their mother tongue, and the language they would like to learn.” As soon as a counterpart is found, contacts are established and the tandem can meet for the first time,” organizer Iris Buchmann says. In most cases, the tandem partners meet once a week. Some do exercises and learn grammar. Others, such as Anna-Lena and her tandem partner Bettino, meet to do conversation: “We mostly meet for dinner or do something together,” Anna-Lena reports.
The Studierendenwerk also supports regular exchange of experience: At international evenings, German students and students from abroad can meet in a relaxed atmosphere and find a tandem partner.
Looking outside the Box
Spaghetti Bolognese, Thai curry, Schnitzel with French fries – it is hard to believe that this is all about Spanish. Pedro, Markus, Marco, and the others have met to speak Spanish. About what? With what result? This does not matter, the most important thing is to speak Spanish. Every week, the students meet to make new friends and to improve knowledge of various languages: “Chinese, Norwegian, and Swedish, on Tuesdays French, on Wednesdays Italian and Spanish,” Marco says. He organizes the Language Café of the Erasmus working group.
Foto: Patrick Langer
Here, native speakers meet students who have just started to learn a language and wish to use it in practice, in a relaxed atmosphere during lunch at the canteen. If there were not the small flags on the table, it would look like an ordinary meeting of friends. “I established the Sprachcafé (Language Café) to train the language before I went to Barcelona for my semester abroad,” Markus describes the beginnings. Pedro from Venezuela thinks that the Language Café is a good matter, not only, because he can speak his mother tongue: “You always meet nice people and you are told their stories – the semesters they plan to spend abroad and how they are associated with the Spanish language. This is much fun!”
Staying – When the Stopover Becomes Home
“Shall we meet for a coffee?” “No.” This is how Maren and Marin met at an Erasmus party. The following sentence now makes this apparently unfriendly rejection a funny anecdote: “Did you understand what I said?” “No....”. A misunderstanding almost prevented them from getting to know each other. “In an international relation, it may well happen that you talk cross-purposes,” Maren says. She is 26 years old and studies economics at KIT. Her friend Marin comes from Croatia, is 24 years old, and studies informatics. Initially, he came to Germany for one semester only. But then, he decided to enroll with KIT as a regular student. After the nearly blown first date, others followed at AKK. First, they both spoke English, but soon they started to speak German: “I wish to take the opportunity to learn the language quite well. For this, it is necessary to train as often as possible. Maren always corrects me when I make a mistake, which is why I have already passed my C2 certrificate,” Marin explains. “This corresponds to the level of a native speaker,” Maren adds proudly. Are they often asked for their similar names? “Yes, our friends think that this makes us the perfect couple,” Maren says and smiles.
Foto: Patrick Langer
Both think that they profit from their international relationship, not only by learning a foreign language: “Marin made me get to know Croatia. A country, about which I never cared before. I had the opportunity to immerse into this culture, not only as a tourist. And else? I pay much more attention to my own language, as I wish to teach Marin good German and no Karlsruhe dialect,” Maren says. But one word has still crept in: “Marin sometimes says “gell”. But without this word, you do not get along in Karlsruhe!” After their studies, both will probably spend a few years in the USA. After that, however, they have already agreed on living in Europe. Where exactly is still open.