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With the Eyes of a Chinese Student

By Jingnü Liu

Three years ago I came to Germany for the first time as a foreign exchange student majoring in German Studies.

At the time I didn't know what awaited me. With great curiosity and pleasant anticipation I awaited my life in Germany and the beginning of my studies at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich.

My arrival at the airport in Germany: the aroma of coffee and baked goods hung in the air. "Say goodbye to soy milk and baozi (steamed dumplings)," I thought to myself. As time went on I have gotten used to European culinary culture, and especially Bavarian cuisine - potato salad and roast pork are my new favorite foods in particular.

College life in Germany was set up in a completely different way than it is in China, too. First there was no campus, rather I lived in a student dorm downtown, integrated into the environment. There was no division of classes anymore, so I was always seeing new faces in class. I also had to learn to cook, because the cafeteria hours were much shorter than I was used to. I met friends from all around the world in the dorm. From their stories I kept learning about new travel destinations, and I soon came to know them on brief excursions.

The beautiful landscape in Bavaria fascinated me. Starting with the world famous Neuschwanstein up to the picturesque Alps, I was captivated by the sights. This quickly led to me getting other Chinese students excited about the beauty of Bavaria. This was also where I was to find my future role and skill as an escort interpreter.

My part-time work as a language professional expanded my horizon and gave me a deeper understanding of German culture. It also allowed me to obtain my first practical and professionally relevant experience. At the end of my exchange year I was thus able to bring a lot of positive experiences back home. I had not only improved my German, but also discovered my dream career by turning the language into my profession.

So one year later I began my Master's program in "Conference Interpreting" at the Sprachen & Dolmetscher Institut München (SDI). Right upon arrival, this time I knew what to expect. Intensive training in active and passive language skills in the foreign languages of German and English awaited me to prepare me for employment in simultaneous and consecutive interpreting. After one year I knew that it is really not easy to immerse oneself so deeply in the world of languages. However, I felt that I was always in good hands, especially because of the great support from my fellow students at SDI. As I am the only student under the age of 30 with the language combination German-English-Chinese, I was able to learn a lot from the experienced interpreters during the seminar hours. Now, in my third semester, I know that my studies in Germany will bring me something new each day. Contact with Germany has become extremely important to me. This is not just because of my career, but rather it is a great joy to help shape the cultural and economic ties between our countries.

That is also why I became acquainted with the Erich-Paulun-Institut shortly after my arrival in Germany, and have been able to actively take part in the institute's work as a student assistant since May 2015. At the same time I am also a member of the DCSC Munich. The atmosphere at the institute makes me feel like I'm home. I have also found a lot of friends here, and the mentors have actively supported me in my journey - the linguistic journey. Thank you so much!
Not lastly, my love for Germany arose from the welcoming culture, German openness, and the beautiful landscape. Even if I am to leave it someday, it is certain that I will always have it in my heart.

This report appeared in the 2014/2015 annual report of the Erich-Paulun-Institut and was obtained with permission from the president.