Science and Languages students make the most of trip to Germany

International collaboration was a key message when a group of science and German language students from Truro and Callywith Colleges visited Göttingen in the centre of Germany to conduct a week of activities closely related to their studies.

The students from Truro College and Callywith College thoroughly enjoyed their trip to Germany

The hugely popular exchange programme, which partners both Truro College and Callywith College students with students at their partner school Theodor Heuss Gymnasium in Göttingen, is always a special experience for the students, as they get the chance to immerse themselves in German culture by living in host families as well as completing a week-long work placement of their choice. The aim is to improve their German conversation skills in a practical situation, but also to open their eyes to the world of work and another culture in order to broaden their horizons, which is turn will boost their university applications.

This year saw the language students conduct work experience in primary schools, a café, a garage and a nursing home. The group also learnt about recent historical events during their visit to the Grenzlandmuseum Teistungen on the former border between East and West Germany, which helped them set the scene for their studies of German Reunification as part of their A Level German course.

Alex Blackman, German Lecturer at Truro and Callywith Colleges, said: "Our long-standing exchange programme has seen another very successful visit to Göttingen, where our students have been able to put their German language skills to the test in a work setting of their choice. We are particularly proud that the quality of our exchange programme has been recognised for two years running by UK-German Connection with a generous bursary that enables us to continue and to develop this amazing experience for our students."

I had been a bit worried about meeting my exchange partner and his family, but they were all so welcoming and made me feel completely at home and part of the family.

Languages Student, James Shaw

I feel a lot more confident about speaking German now. The work experience was particularly useful, and the people were so helpful when I got stuck with the language. They were very patient with me and always happy to explain things to me.

Anya Harper

Joining the exchange for the first time this year were 12 science students, who participated in a week of scientific visits, talks and experiments that aimed to give them an understanding of the science conducted at university level. The students spent three days at the WLabs Institute for experimental science where they conducted a range of experiments including building their own working laser, making aspirin, which they tested using the university's state-of-the-art instruments, and dissecting a pig's brain as a part of an anatomy course.

Matt Blackman, science trip organiser and deputy head of science at Truro College, said: "Göttingen is a real city of science, boasting five Max Planck Institutes for research. It is home to 46 past Nobel Prize winners, the most recent of whom was Stefan Hell, and, during the visit to the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, the students were given a hands-on demonstration of his ground-breaking imaging of cellular structures using laser microscopy. They were also given a demonstration of how proteins thought to be responsible for Alzheimer's disease are studied."

"The students were truly amazing and were praised by all who met them for their interest and enthusiasm. The experiences will live with them forever. I am excited to be involved in another unique opportunity for students in our Science Mark Platinum award-winning science department."

The trip also included a visit to the Institute for Astrophysics and to the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, where the students were lucky enough to witness the NASA live stream of the recent Mars landing amongst the scientists, who had developed the landing craft's stabilisation system. 

On a guided tour of the Otto Boc company, who are pioneers in prosthetic limb research, development and production, the students witnessed modern production methods and the recent developments in prosthetics materials. 

As well as gaining an insight into current scientific research taking place, the students began to appreciate the collaborative nature of science both between the different scientific disciplines and different nations. 

The trip was amazing, my favourite part was the anatomy course, but I found all aspects really interesting.

Maria Rowe, a student at Truro College

"It was fascinating to see how the different sciences collaborate and especially how physicists have designed techniques to study biological systems." she added.

Bella Randell from Callywith College added: "I really enjoyed the last day at the XLabs as we got to learn more about the nervous system and the brain. My favourite part was being able to dissect a pig's brain to try and identify the different parts. We even had the opportunity to hold a human brain, which was exciting."

One of the most enjoyable aspects of the trip was the students' accommodation, as they stayed with host families and were fully immersed in the culture of the city. Charlie Campbell, one of the science students, said: "I really enjoyed the Otto Bock tour, seeing the high-tech use of materials and finding out how the knee joints are designed was really interesting. I also really enjoyed building a working laser and the experiments we conducted using X-rays. We were given a few German lessons before the trip, but my partner and host family were keen to speak English and we communicated easily. The language skills of the German students are excellent, and I would love to return one day to study or work, I feel inspired to pursue my further studies in science and to try to learn the German language."