Ryan and Baumert excited to take gap year in Germany after graduation


Provided by Ryan

Baumert (left) and Ryan (right) in Innsbruck, Austria during the German exchange

Jack Zwirn, Opinions & Broadcast Editor

Studying abroad is a dream for many students, and it is a great opportunity to immerse themselves in different cultures. Many WA students take advantage of the exchange programs offered by the school, but only the most dedicated end up going back. After graduation, seniors Charlotte Ryan and Liv Baumert will be taking a gap year in Germany. The friends plan to improve their German and continue to learn about German culture.

Baumert will spend a semester with her exchange partner Elina that she stayed with over the summer starting in August, while Ryan will be taking a full gap year, staying with a different host family than the one she stayed with during the exchange.

Located in Northeim, Lower Saxony, they will attend the Gymnasium Corvinianum (the Corvi), the same school that WA partners with to orchestrate exchanges. They are not studying anything in particular while there, and will take more general education courses. Their main goal: to speak as close to 100% German as possible.

“I definitely want to get fluent. I think my German skills have improved a ton,” Ryan said. “I think just being immersed in their culture is really going to help with my German, and I just love it there.”

However, the trip is not solely focused on academics. Both seniors want to explore not just Germany and its sites, such as Berlin and the German Alps, but also surrounding countries like Italy, Finland, Greece, France, Switzerland, Austria, and Sweden.

Baumert and Ryan made their decision for a few different reasons. The German Exchange left them wanting to return and when they became aware of this opportunity to take a gap year, they decided to take full advantage of it. Just like many WA students who participated in any of the foreign exchange programs, both Baumert and Ryan felt that their time in Germany was cut short and wanted to return as soon as possible.

“We both made this decision separately to go back to Germany, and it just happened to work out because we both went on the exchange together and we had the best time while we were there,” Baumert said.

Not every graduating senior knows exactly what they want to do after high school, and not every senior goes directly to college. For Baumert, this was a way to do what is best for herself, and her academic pursuits.

“I’ve always been nervous about college and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do,” Baumert said. “I love to travel so I figured I’d apply for the spring semester and see what happened. And then I got in.”

Baumert will return to the United States after the fall semester to attend Brandeis University in the spring, where she will major in accounting, with hopes to study abroad in Scotland or Ireland.

For Ryan, there was a specific moment during the exchange that made her realize that this was the right decision.

“I had this moment where I realized that I didn’t want to be there for just a month and I want to come back to experience what it would be like to be a student for a year,” Ryan said. “It was the seniors’ last day of school and they had a big celebration in the courtyard of their school. That was when I realized: I have to come back here.”

Ryan leaves on Aug. 11 and will stay for both semesters before figuring out what the next step for her is.

“I’m not going to college here after my year abroad. I hope I can apply to some European universities. […] My mom is from Finland, so maybe I can establish residency there before applying to them,”  Ryan said. “I have a one-way ticket to Europe, and I’ll just see where life takes me.”