Mark Keske is an Auburn University student in engineering who had the honor of being chosen to go to Germany for the Congress Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals.
Keske, along with 75 other American students, spent a year in Germany. For those who did not know German, the first two months were spent in Saarbrücken. While in Saarbrücken, he lived with a host family and attended language school. The language school was five days a week eight hours a day.
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“After a month with the host family I asked them to stop speaking English,” says Keske. “I was lucky that my host family spoke a lot of English but I wanted to really learn the language.”
In November, he went to Stuttgart Germany where he took mechanical engineering classes (in German) at the University of Stuttgart.
“It was really hard learning new material in German but I had learned a lot of German in Saarbrücken,” says Keske.
He also worked as an intern with Bosch, a major engineering firm. According to Keske, if it wasn’t for having the background in engineering that Auburn provided him, he would not been able to do the job he did there.
Keske tried to take full advantage of being in Germany. This included running his first marathon, visiting Scotland and England, seeing the 25-hour Auto Race in France, going to Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day, and visiting every German state.
“My goal going into this was getting a beer stein from each of the states in German,” remembers Keske. “Most of the Germans I talked to hadn’t even been to every state.”
He says that the people who went through this experience with him said they “experienced the entire German life in one year.”
“When we were in Saarbrücken it was like elementary and middle school years,” says Keske. “We were just learning how to talk and figure out the lifestyle a little bit. Then we went to Stuttgart where we lived the college years. We also had a job that treated us like grown-ups. At the end it was like retirement because we had time to just travel around. ”
While in Germany Keske kept wrote a blog. For more on his experiences, visit his blog.