The portfolio assignment was a continuous project that demanded each semester a reflective paper about our student life, and especially the interaction we had in the domain of interdisciplinarity. While my reflection papers focus only on my experiences and thoughts of interdisciplinary courses (and courses in general), I will briefly summarize formative experiences I had throughout my various semesters! Additionally, these summaries will surely be influenced by the semestral meeting I had with my advisor, and the goals I had set at the time. The said reflection papers are also made available as PDF files. These are not corrected or edited – why? – I probably have matured through the years, and editing would therefore disturb the essence of these reflective papers, and thus make the aim of this section nil.
I think this semester is rather self-explanatory. A new environment, a new sphere, and a new rhythm of life, away from the nine prior years of lycée. I really wasn’t sure what would await for me, but as it turned out, I was about to flourish above anything I had achieved in school. As I submitted my first assignments, riddled with the freshman-anxiety, I thought my work would not be up to par with that of other students. I rarely spoke up in class, and friends were sparse. Additionally, while I am a self-titled ‘free spirit’ and like to think and discuss about topics, when it comes to learning and work, I need double the time than most students. This was something I realized late in highschool, and applied immediately in University (and it is still something I do to this day). I needed to start earlier and work double as much, this was the way I worked. But my anxiety was not necessary, while I received some average grades initially, I also was able to get some higher ones, and I was ecstatic. My confidence grew, and thus I became more active in class too. The pace I picked up was good, and it grew in the following semesters. My first reflection paper comments on the interplay of history with other humanitarian fields, such as literature and linguistics:
Similar to the first one; the second semester was still a period of acclimatization. However, I steadily continued to be more confident and to partake in class discussions. Classes became less work and gradually turned into pleasure; I had manifested clear goals I wanted to achieve – socially and academically – and successfully did so. Additionally, one particular interdisciplinary course had taken my interest: Gattungen, Werke, Autoren der neuren deutschen Literaturgeschichte by Dr. Wilhelm Amann. Dr. Amann presented us with a wide array of German realism, including modern movie adaptations, and linked this movement with the English literary canon, such as Charles Dickens’ The Great Expectation. It was my first introduction into what I would name comparative literature.
Third semester was influenced mostly by linguistic classes. Linguistic seemed initially rather hard; a field that divides English studies students – you either have a genuine interest in linguistics, or you are completely absorbed by literature alone and do not really care much, see it as a hassle (and rarely there is the unicorn of English studies, someone that likes both sides). I have to admit, I was the latter. I thought my heart solely beats for literature. But, as it turned out, linguistics was not as dry as I initially thought. On the contrary, my best grades were in linguistics courses. My proudest achievement is my paper about an artificial language (Esperanto) which I wrote completely in German with the help of English papers! It showed me that, while my English improved massively, my German did not deteriorate; on the contrary, it also improved. It was one of my proudest achievements because I ventured into fields I did not feel well in, and I was able to successfully navigate them, ultimately producing a quality paper.
Fourth semester was anxious in that I had to mentally (and logistically) prepare for my stay abroad. First, I had to be accepted at Heidelberg, because it was the only University that accepted English Studies and German Studies majors, which is important, considering I wanted to do my stay with my significant other (she studies Germanistik!). Luckily, both our academic competence allowed us registration, and we could conclusively do our stay abroad together (as will be illustrated in the next semester’s reflection). Furthermore, fourth semester was formative in that I had chosen my first concrete idea for my bachelor thesis: Inspired by the course Ausflich an d’Geschicht vun der Lëtzebuerger Literature I decided to write a comparative and interdisciplinary thesis that encompassed English, German, and Luxembourgish literature.
This semester reminded me of my very first semester, with the exception of me being equipped for new experiences; I was in a new country, new environment, new university, and had new social interactions. Granted, I was lucky enough to experience this with my significant other, which simplified the process, and ultimately helped us to bond closer as a couple. We overcome the hurdle of finding a private accommodation for us, we were able to properly go through the legal process of both universities, we both performed exceptionally in class, and we ultimately were able to adapt swiftly to these new environment – albeit only for six months! Additionally, to be able to attend one of the most prestigious universities of Germany was an experience I will hold dear, and it was an experience that refined me academically.