This report is written by a German exchange student who took part in the Language Campus school visit program.
On October 24th, Hanna Keto, a Finnish student studying ‘German Language and Culture’ and me, Nadja Bürgle, a German exchange student studying ‘Psychology’ at the University of Jyväskylä during the autumn semester, visited the Secondary School in Joutsa.
In Joutsa, Hanna and me met two groups of pupils. The pupils in the first group had studied German for one year and had prepared several questions dealing with our hobbies, favorite meals or our career prospects, for example. After we had answered these questions, I held my presentation about Germany and my home town, Munich. My presentation highlighted the most important facts about Germany and comprised general information about its history, politics, economy, famous cities as well as about German art and science. Together with the pupils, we collected common stereotypes about Germans and evaluated their validity. Moreover, the presentation contained facts about Munich, the city´s most important sights and the Bavarian culture. After this first session, Hanna and me had lunch in the school cafeteria.
Afterwards, I gave a presentation to the second group of pupils who studied psychology. My presentation aimed at providing an overview of my psychology studies in Munich. I introduced Munich as a student town, my university and concluded with the differences I noticed between my studies in Germany and Finland. Following my presentation, Hanna provided an introduction to her German studies closing up our school visit.
The school visit had two main learning outcomes for me. First, what surprised me the most was the relationship between the teaching staff and the pupils. The pupils have a very close relationship with their teachers who are considered as a confidants rather than persons of authority. In Germany, the relationships between teachers and pupils are more hierarchical and teachers have to be addressed formally. In my opinion, intimate teacher-pupil-relationships are more beneficial since they may contribute to an efficient learning atmosphere eliminating pressure to perform and offering the students counselors they can consult when facing problems such as mobbing. A good learning atmosphere is known to improve the quality of learning. Second, the cafeterias in Finnish schools offer a main dish, salad, bread, water and milk for free. In contrast, German cafeterias mostly serve unhealthy fast food against payment. In my opinion, the Finnish system should serve as a role model for the German one, since a nutritious and balanced diet promotes the students´ health as well as performance level.
In a nutshell, the school visit in Joutsa Secondary School was an interesting experience which both sides, the pupils and me took benefit from. Therefore, I strongly recommend the participation in the program to my fellow exchange students.