The Tandem Project: An Exchange Before Your Exchange

What is the Tandem Project? – UConn student perspective
At its most basic level, Tandem connects university students from Connecticut and
Baden-Württemberg for regular online conversation sessions. After an initial kick-off meeting,
students get the opportunity to meet their partner(s) and make their first introductions. From
there, the entire process is in the students’ hands to determine when and how often they want to
meet. During sessions, students can discuss a variety of topics: cultural differences, tips for their
eventual study abroad, or anything else in which they are interested. Speaking in both English
and German is highly encouraged, as students can practice their language skills in preparation for
their studies in the US or Germany. Tandem allows students to establish links with students from
their guest universities without having ever stepped foot on campus. Therefore, students have the
opportunity to exchange valuable “insider” information about their respective universities,
regions, and countries in general. Structured in an informal and easygoing format, Tandem
cultivates a forum whereby students improve their language skills, learn more about their
partners’ lives, and prepare themselves for future intercultural experiences.

What is the Tandem Project? – Baden-Württemberg student perspective
The Tandem project at UConn was created in order to give German students that will study abroad
at UConn the possibility to connect, learn and grow with students at UConn that are studying
the German language, some of which are planning to also study in Germany. The general idea
is to meet in pairs of two or three every once in a week and discussing various topics in German
and English in order to give all participants the opportunity to deepen their language skills in
German and English, respectively, through communicating with natives in that particular language.
Furthermore, a cultural exchange can be made that is indispensable as preparation for living in
the other countries. The German students have the unique possibility to ask questions about their
guest university, UConn, which can in almost every instance be answered accurately. The regularly
held online sessions thus equip the German students with important knowledge that helps them
throughout their stay at UConn. More generally spoken, connecting with different cultures and
learning about them is the best way to improve the overall intercultural understanding between
countries and is contributing to a peaceful and free world.

My Tandem Experience – UConn student perspective
My name is Daniel Leaf, and I currently study political science and German at UConn. I first
became involved with the Tandem project in Spring 2021, where I had the opportunity to speak
with a student from the University of Konstanz in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, where I
eventually spent my entire 2021-22 school year. Having benefited from and enjoyed the
experience of speaking with a German student, I re-registered for the Tandem project in January
2023. I knew that I would again have the chance to hone my German language skills and learn
more after my year abroad, but I could not have predicted the quality of my partners. Rudi and
Maike have both contributed to an incredibly enjoyable and engaging experience. Despite having
lived and studied in Germany for a year, I still had much to learn about Germans and German
culture. Discussions with Rudi and Maike have bolstered my confidence in my German ability
and expanded my knowledge of Germany, both of which are highly beneficial for anyone hoping
to spend a significant amount of time there. Indeed, even though my studies abroad are complete,
I plan on returning to Germany for an English teaching assistantship program. Further, speaking
with Rudi and Maike has helped me expand my intercultural competence, which, in the
professional and personal spheres, is invaluable. The highest praise goes out to my partners, Rudi
and Maike, whose insight has already had a measurable impact on my life; my only regret is that
I won’t be there at UConn to see them in the fall. If you’re a student preparing for your study
abroad or simply looking to connect with students from the US and Germany, it would be a
mistake not to join the Tandem project.

My Tandem Experience – Baden-Württemberg student perspective
My name is Rudi Pietsch and I am currently studying physics with an emphasis on quantum
sciences and technologies at Ulm University, Germany. My graduation as M.Sc. (Master of Science)
is planned in March 2025 and I will stay at UConn for the fall term 2023. When I was introduced
to the possibility of participating in the Tandem project, I didn’t hesitate to register myself. The
project itself was an overall great experience for me. Not only did I have two interesting and
fascinating Tandem partners which I enjoyed meeting with, moreover I gained a lot of insights
into how the life on campus will be like and what I have to bear in mind whilst preparing for this
unique experience. On top of that, getting to know a student from UConn enriched my knowledge
of the U.S. as we had many intriguing discussions about cultural differences and similarities, about
prejudices and how they affect the view people have on the other country, as well as places that one
should visit and typical activities abroad that one should not miss out on. The meetings helped me
to improve my proficiency in the English language, which I deem especially useful as preparation
for my stay at UConn. With this experience, that gave me an even greater anticipation of my
term abroad, I feel far more confident to successfully tackle all the challenges associated with my
program that lie ahead of me. I also know that I have somebody to get in contact with whenever
I feel overwhelmed or not sure about how to handle certain situations at UConn. My deepest
gratitude goes out to the organizers of this project and especially to Maike and Daniel, my two
Tandem partners. I hope that this project will also be available to future generations of students,
as it is, in my opinion, one of the most important preparations one could possibly have in advance
of a term abroad at UConn.

Students interested in participating in the Tandem in the future should reach out to Inga Pötzl:

Inga also advises all students interested in participating in the Baden-Wuerttemberg – Connecticut Exchange Program. Schedule an advising appointment with Inga to discuss spending a semester on exchange in Germany.