Improving Language Skills from a Year Studying Abroad

Instead of spending her junior year in East Lansing, Honors College student Nicole Koenigsknecht took her studies abroad to Freiburg, Germany, with MSU’s Academic Year in Freiburg study abroad program.

A double major in German and English with a minor in Russian and Eurasian Studies, Koenigsknecht enrolled at Albert-Ludwigs-Universität and spent the entire year abroad, attending classes with other German college students. She also took classes offered exclusively to students in the Academic Year in Freiburg program.

“While learning to navigate university and just life in general in a foreign culture, I vastly improved my language skills while interacting with people from Germany and all over the world,” Koenigsknecht said.

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Nicole Koenigsknecht (middle) and friends


In between semesters, she traveled throughout Germany and Europe.

“It's hard to single out any single memory as my favorite from the entire year,” Koenigsknecht said. “Ultimately, I think the people I met and the friendships I developed is the most valuable part about the entire experience for me.”

To prepare for her time abroad, Koenigsknecht had multiple orientation sessions, which included a Skype interview with her program director in Freiburg. She also found the Academic Year in Freiburg program handbook to be very helpful. The handbook is updated every year with lots of details and information specific to the program. And, she had the opportunity of practicing her German before she went abroad at campus events like Kaffeestunde and Filmabend.

“The Academic Year in Freiburg program provided a lot of support to me and the other students over the course of the year,” Koenigsknecht said. “All of the credits I took in Freiburg transfer directly to MSU allowing me to graduate on schedule in four years.”

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Nicole Koenigsknecht (left) and friends in front of the Reichstag building.


Now a senior, Koenigsknecht said her year abroad allowed her to explore her passions and reflect on her time at MSU.

“I have always been passionate about literature and languages and feel very fortunate that I am able to pursue those interests through my two majors and minor within the College of Arts & Letters,” she said. “Additionally, my experience in the Honors College has given me the opportunity to take classes and explore academic interests I wouldn't normally have had room for in my schedule.”

Koenigsknecht also has found her extracurriculars to be valuable resources at MSU.

“German Club, Kaffeestunde, Sigma Tau Delta (the English Honors Society), and volunteering at the CeLTA Language School have been valuable to me,” she said. “They have given me the chance to interact with other students and members of the community who share my interests and passions.”

Her advice to other students considering studying abroad:

“Do it,” Koenigsknecht said. “And go for longer than you think you want to go. Even after a year I still wish I had more time.”