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Goethe Institut, Schwäbisch Hall

3 January 2011 One Comment

Goethe Institute

The Goethe Institut building in Schwäbisch Hall

The Goethe-Institut in Schwäbisch Hall is housed in a historic building in the Schwäbisch Hall Altstadt. The compound used to be a hospital, but no, there’s no ghost story to tell here. It is now a center of learning where every year hundreds of foreign students spend months honing their aptitude in the German language. Inside, the building has been renovated to suit the teaching and learning environment. The hallways may still look old, but classrooms are modern and well equipped.

Goethe Institut

Classroom at the Goethe Institut

Most students at the Goethe Institut stay in Schwäbisch Hall for a period of one to six months. During the course of their stay in Schwäbisch Hall, students from the Goethe Institut can apply for accommodation in one of the school’s two Wohnheim (dormitories). They can also opt to have breakfast or lunch in the Goethe-Institut Mensa (cafeteria), which serves buffet breakfast and set lunches. On our one-month language course back in summer 2008, we rented a double room at the Wilhelm-Meister-weg Wohnheim, which is a four-storey modern building with a common kitchen and laundry room. The kitchen is a meeting point for students staying in the same block (and occasionally for students from other blocks as well). It was an interesting exchange point where you can see people from different parts of the world with their unique lifestyles. Stereotypical as it may sound, the Japanese really had microwaved Japanese rice and cans of dried seaweed, the Americans preferred hot dogs, and the Chinese, noodles. It was also where we watched football matches projected on the kitchen wall. As our stay coincided with the Euro 2008 season, the games were shown almost daily.

Wohnheim at Wilhelm-Meister-weg

Wohnheim at Wilhelm-Meister-weg

View from outside the Goethe Insitut

Street view outside the Goethe Institut

Being in the native land of the language certainly boosts one’s learning. You speak German with almost everyone you meet – the baker, the bus driver, the hairdresser, etc. Furthermore, the school has students from a number of nationalities so German becomes the lingua franca in this small student community. The Goethe Institut also organises interaction sessions with a local support group who call themselves ‘Friends of the Goethe Institut’. The group consists mainly of friendly elderly and middle-aged ladies who are eager to share more about their town and interact with foreigners. Guess what, they also enthusiastically bake local cakes for the international students.

Friends of the Goethe Institut gathering

Friends of the Goethe Institut gathering

On weekends, the school organises trips around the region, sometimes to bigger cities like Stuttgart and other times to castles and attractions in more remote areas. Information on and tickets to performances, concerts and cultural highlights are also available through the school. These performances range from the local high school stage to those performed in the Stuttgart Opera.

You might also like to know that Schwäbisch Hall is in the state of Baden-Württemberg, which has many great German cities, including Mannheim, Heidelberg, Karlsruhe, Freiburg, and of course Stuttgart. This makes it a great place as a starting point for exploring the region, as intra state train tickets are cheaper. Taking the language course in a smaller city like Schwäbisch Hall (as opposed to the bigger metropolises like Frankfurt or Munich) has added advantages; the town life is one of an intimate scale and a relaxed pace. We recommend a summer course, since the days are longer and the weather is friendlier so you can take strolls, stay outdoors and enjoy the peaceful townscape up to 9 or 10 pm.

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