From country music to teaching: A German teacher’s change in career aspirations

April 4, 2017

Every child has a dream for what they want to be when they grow up. Yet, these career aspirations are often far from what we end up pursuing. For German teacher Amber Hollenbeck, her first idea of what she hoped would be her future career couldn’t have been further from reality.

“When I was a kid, my first goal in life was to be a country music singer. That didn’t last very long,” Hollenbeck said. “For awhile I wanted to be a teacher, so I definitely had an idea of what I wanted to be from a young age.”

Hollenbeck first got interested in German in high school, when she started learning the language. She continued with the language in college and hasn’t stopped since.

“I literally started taking German, just to do something different, since everyone at the time was taking Spanish,” Hollenbeck said. “In college I really started getting interested in the language and ended up majoring in it.”

Hollenbeck had always had an idea of becoming a teacher, but that idea started to grow once she was in college.

“A main reason as to why I wanted to teach was because I just wanted to share. I find language so interesting and just wanted to be able to share that with everyone,” Hollenbeck said. “My college professors were also very influential. They were really fun and interesting and I just thought, ‘I want to do that.’”

While Hollenbeck was in college, she studied abroad in Berlin for about a year.

“Studying abroad in Berlin was an amazing experience. Berlin is such an incredible city and I felt lucky to be there,” Hollenbeck said. “I felt like after investing so much time into learning a language, and never even have been out of the country, it just made sense to travel and study abroad.”

After graduating college, Hollenbeck lived in Trier, a city in west Germany and worked as an English teaching assistant at a high school. Living in a foreign country, Hollenbeck said, has changed her.

“Living abroad really woke me up to the rest of the world’s views of the United States at the time, as well as the perspectives of people living in different countries,” Hollenbeck said.

While Hollenbeck was living in Germany, she found herself constantly having to defend herself over the fact that she was American.

“I felt conflicted because I didn’t think they knew all the good things about my country,” Hollenbeck said. “Living in Germany actually made me realize how American I truly am.”

Hollenbeck  has no regrets on her current career and couldn’t be happier with it.

“My favorite part about my job is the different interactions I have every single day. I like teaching because you never know what to expect; every day is totally different. Each student brings a different variety to the classroom,” Hollenbeck said.

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