Second year Bachelor of Languages student Caroline Hendy first started learning German in Bahrain when she was fourteen.
That was the year her family moved to the Middle East, away from Queanbeyan where she has lived almost her whole life.
“That year was pretty character-forming,” Caroline recalls.
“The German department at ANU is amazing,” Caroline enthuses. “I thought, ‘I’ve found my people!’”
Earlier this year, Caroline undertook an internship with the German-Australian Chamber of Industry and Commerce. She did translation work as well as research for German companies on niche areas of the Australian markets.
“For example, I did one about finding appliance approval consultants for a firm in Germany,” Caroline explains.
“I also researched and wrote up a brief about Australia’s current stance on innovation, and summarised and translated (into German) Australia’s current clean energy report.”
Caroline is excited about setting off in September to go on exchange at Konstanz University in Germany.
“I'll be doing a month-long intensive language and culture adjustment course before the actual semester starts in October,” she says.
“And then I'll be taking half of my courses in German and half in English.”
Caroline adds that she’s looking forward to the challenge of taking a course that is intended for native German speakers.
“It'll be on the structure and history of German. I feel like if there's any place where you're going to learn about the structure and history of German it's in Germany!”
German appeals to Caroline because, she says, it has so much character and there’s a lot of history behind it. There are many German words that don’t have an English equivalent.
“Vergangenheitsbewältigung is this massive word that means coming to terms with the past, and it became really applicable after the Second World War,” Caroline says.
She offered another example: “There's the saying, Alles hat ein Ende, nur die Wurst hat zwei - everything has an end, only the sausage has two.”
“Sausages are so important in German society – they even have sausage vending machines!”.”
Caroline’s other academic love is linguistics.
“I read textbooks in my free time because I just can’t get enough,” she says, laughing.
Her current plan is to do an Honours year in linguistics.
“And then I intend to apply for the Teach for Australia programs and hopefully spend two years doing that.”
Teach for Australia, which ANU is an in-kind partner of, involves teaching in an under-privileged school based in rural Australia or a major Australian city.
“It's very hands-on, fast paced and very challenging because typically the schools are not well resourced and the children don't come from the most advantaged backgrounds,” Caroline says.
“But I've always really, really enjoyed teaching, so, I think that would be a really great way to merge my interests.”