Following in their teacher’s footsteps

Alex Reich, Teacher of German, tells us about how two of his students asked him for advice on studying abroad.


“For a teacher it is always nice if students stay in touch and send the occasional email, detailing how they are getting on, so it has been great to have stayed in touch with former student Laura (pictured) who left the College four years ago. Laura left the College with A-grades in German and French A-level and a C in Sociology. Laura, a very keen and talented linguist, went to Southampton University to study German, French and Japanese (which she taught herself some Japanese whilst at College).

Her university course involved a year studying in Germany so Laura asked me which universities I would recommend. Her own list of five or six universities included the Eberhardt-Karls-Universitaet, Tübingen, where I had studied English and Theology, qualifying as a grammar school teacher.

The University of Tübingen is one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in Germany, with a great reputation for academic excellence. I wholeheartedly recommended that Laura should pick Tübingen and she did!

I received a couple of emails from her, updating me with how she was getting on with settling in this beautiful town and how she had made friends with members of a local church congregation. Unfortunately, her Tübingen experience was cut short by the pandemic and she had to spend the summer semester back home in Reading.

More recently I received an email from another former A level German student, Catriona, who was in the year below Laura at College. Catriona was also a very keen linguist, studying German and French. She continued with her languages at Reading University, having decided to study for her degree locally so that she could complete a degree apprenticeship at a local Early Years establishment. 

Catriona also asked for advice about her year abroad in Germany and the University of Tübingen was also on her short-list of possible places. I think you can guess my recommendation for Catriona. 

It is great to see that students who chose German as their A-level subject are achieving high grades and grow in their enthusiasm for the language, taking it as one of their degree subjects. Laura and Catriona are not the only ones who have done so, over the years there have been numerous students progressing to a degree in (or with) German, including studying at Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, Exeter, Southampton and Warwick.”

We caught up with Laura to find out more her time in Tübingen:

“In terms of studying in Germany, it was a very enriching experience on all levels. Despite only being able to spend four months there, I thoroughly enjoyed my Erasmus exchange at Tübingen University, where I learned so much about German culture, interacted with lots of people in German most days and therefore achieved my goal of becoming fluent in German. German universities are very different from UK universities in many ways and I enjoyed experiencing these cultural and university differences first-hand – I even learned more about my own British culture by living abroad! Tübingen is a beautiful city that looks like something out of a fairy tale, with its cobbled streets and colourful old buildings. I got to meet not just lots of Germans, but also many people from all over the world! Living abroad for even just a few months gave me so many new skills that will look good on a CV, including cultural awareness and adapting quickly to new environments. I would thoroughly recommend this kind of experience to anyone.

I would also like to add a huge thank you to all the staff who helped to make my two years at The Henley College a great and memorable experience – I often look back at my time there with a lot of nostalgia!“


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