UBC German Undergraduate Student Profile: Melissa Phua

Photo by Melissa Phua

In this personal reflection, Melissa Phua (Economics major) outlines her journey in the Department of Central, Eastern and Northern European Studies as a student in the UBC German Studies program at UBC.

My journey in the UBC German Studies program started in September 2021, when I was a second-year student. I’ve been wanting to learn German since my first year and I wanted to take a German class back then. Due to conflicts in my course timetable I couldn’t enroll and had to wait until my second year. In the first term of my second year, I finally took my first German class, which was GERM 100 (starting W2023, the code for this course will change to GERN 101). It was my first time taking such a class. Thanks to my instructor, Sara Pashan, I had a wonderful experience. Her lessons were fun and engaging and she explained things in a way that easy to understand for me. I enjoyed every single day in that class and looked forward to all of them.

“Aside from my personal motivation to learn the language, the great experience I had with my GERM 100 class and my professor further inspired me to continue taking courses in the UBC German Studies program.”
BA, Economics

During my time in the program, I learned about a study abroad program known as the Canadian Summer School in Germany. It’s a seven-week long German immersion program designed to take language learning outside of the classroom and make it an active experience by living in the language. I thought this would be a great opportunity for me to further improve my German over the summer. At the same time, I thought it would be an excellent chance to visit Germany, which I had not visited previously. So I decided to sign up for the program. I had an amazing time in Germany. Not only did my language skills improve, I also got to visit new places I’ve never been to and experience a new culture. I got to visit many different places in Germany and even got to visit Luxembourg during the program! The study abroad program was equivalent to two semesters of German classes at UBC. Coupled with the overall good experience abroad, this further encouraged me to take more courses in the UBC German Studies program.

After coming back from Germany, I continued taking not only language classes (GERM 300 and GERM 310), but I also took literature classes (GERM 402 and GERM 406A). For the literature requirement in my degree, I decided to take German Studies classes because of the amazing experiences I’ve had with the classes and the community in the program so far. My favourite classes are all the language classes I’ve taken and GERM 406A, which is the “Putting German Studies into Action” class. I like the language classes because I enjoy learning the language, and I like the GERM 406A class because I like the real-world application of the class – it’s a project-based class and I like how we use our class projects to make an impact in real life outside of the classroom.

“Apart from academics, I also enjoy getting involved in the UBC German Studies community. The people I’ve met in the community were all amazing. They’re all so friendly, kind, caring, and genuine.”
BA, Economics

Because I enjoy being a part of the community so much, I wanted to give back and contribute to the community as well, so I applied to be a program assistant for the German Studies department. I really enjoyed my job as a German Studies program assistant and loved what I did in that role. I helped the department promote German Studies on campus, both in-person and online. I helped out during in-person events where I get to meet other people in the UBC German Studies community, such as info sessions and Kaffeestunde, which is the program’s monthly gathering where people hang out in our department lounge and enjoy some coffee/tea. I also love being creative and creating posters to promote our courses and events for our department.

As a result, working as a program assistant for the UBC German Studies program was my most memorable experience in the program. I’ve learned and grown a lot throughout my time as a program assistant. For instance, my communication and presentation skills improved after supporting events such as info sessions and booths where I helped to promote the program and the department.

Apart from that, the people I’ve met have also contributed to a great experience during my time in the program. It was wonderful meeting like-minded people who I connect with in classes as well as at events organized by the department. All these experiences I’ve had with the program made my university life fun and memorable.