Paulina Kulikova case study
My work experience in Koblenz was in a nursing home (St. Barbara Seniorzentrum) that was around a 15 minute walk from the hotel in a nice residential area. Although the walk there was fairly simple, I was at first nervous about finding the placement by myself as it was in a completely new city for me, however finding it the day before I started was extremely helpful as it meant that I didn’t have to worry about getting lost and being late on the first day!
My working hours were 9-4 which I was very happy with, as although I didn't get a lie in, it meant that after work I still had the rest of the day to explore Koblenz - a really beautiful city. On Monday morning I was feeling both excited and nervous but as soon as I introduced myself to my colleagues they were all very welcoming and friendly. On the first day I was quite shy to talk in case I wouldn’t
be understood, but it took just one day for me to adapt and begin to understand what was being said. By Tuesday I felt settled in and enjoyed making conversation with new people in German! I loved the friendly and relaxed environment I worked in, and everyone was very understanding if I made a mistake or forgot a word. I was given a variety of tasks such as decorating for a party and spent a lot of time with the elderly residents, all of whom were lovely and very chatty. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I could understand most of what they said and I could continue the conversation with relative ease. I carried out tasks like pushing wheelchairs, handing out food, feeding the less able residents and simply spending time with residents, chatting and playing games. I enjoyed meeting native Germans including some German people my age also doing work experience, who were very interesting to talk to and it was fun to practice my German skills with them during the break or on the way home. I absolutely loved my placement and by the end of the week I was sad to leave! If I had to rate my placement I would definitely give it a 10/10!
Not a single person at the care home spoke English which for me was a good thing as it meant that I couldn't resort to English anymore and this forced me to find ways of explaining myself in German from the very start. However by the middle of the week I found this a lot easier and could see improvement each day. My confidence when speaking has certainly improved as well as my listening skills - I was sometimes surprised at how easily I understood instructions! Even if I wasn't involved in the conversations, I found it beneficial to listen in and see how much I could understand.
In the evenings we either did an organised group activity such as a quiz, or we were given the freedom to do whatever we wanted. When dinner wasn't served at the hotel we would walk into the town centre and find a nice place to eat which always turned out to be a good evening. Breakfast was always served at the hotel and the food there was really nice with lots of choice. Our group got on really well, and I've made some amazing friends who I will definitely stay in touch with and we have already started planning our next meet up! Our group leader was great and really approachable; he always gave us a choice as to what we wanted to do in the evenings which created a real sense of independence.
This was honestly one of the best weeks I have ever had. It not only allowed me to immerse myself in the German language and culture, but it was also a really fun week with a good mixture of working and relaxing with some great people. I feel like I have become more independent and confident as a person and the week has only increased my passion for continuing with German. I have plenty of memories from this trip which I will never forget and if I had the opportunity I would definitely go back! All in all this trip was more than what I was expecting; both in terms of how helpful it was for my German and also how much of an excellent time I had. If anyone is considering going on this trip, I would highly recommend booking it without a doubt as it develops confidence, independence, language skills and is just really fun!