A Dunedin teenager is one of three in New Zealand to be selected for a scholarship to travel to Germany to put his language skills to use.
Bayfield High School pupil Chris Hawkins (17) will take part in a full immersion programme, experiencing life as a German student.
He left on Thursday on the four week PAD exchange, funded through the German Embassy.
“I’ve been learning German for several years and I think it would be really good to actually be able to put it to some use in an environment where I have to speak German,” Chris said.
He has been learning the language for the past five years, both at school and teaching himself.
The applicants were chosen based on how well they could speak German, but also how well they could adapt to a new culture.
Chris was able to speak German almost fluently and had already been on an exchange to Thailand.
He first went to an overnight German camp in Dunedin, where the applicants practised speaking to each other in the language, and the judges were able to observe their skills.
Chris was selected for the final stage of the scholarship process, which involved going to Wellington for a weekend, where he participated in German activities and interviews.
He was happy to be selected for the programme, although he did not expect it, as there were plenty other good German speaking applicants.
While on the exchange, Chris will stay in the small German city of Duisburg, which will be “quite a change in scenery to Dunedin”.
Having to get used to constantly speaking another language would be a challenge, even though he was currently capable of having a conversation in German.
because for the first few days, I’ll still have to think about some basic things.
“But I think that after a week or so, I’ll have clipped into it and then I’ll be able to speak with not much effort.”
Being right in the middle of a country he had been learning the language of for many years would be a unique learning experience for him.
“You can learn a lot in school, but you never quite know what is going to get thrown at you until you go and live somewhere [else].”