Celebrating Thanksgiving and 4th July in Bremen

by Stefani Zaharieva ’19

Over this past year, the Carl Schurz German-American club in Bremen organised two big events which we were able to attend. We had the opportunity to celebrate Thanksgiving and Independence Day with the German-American community of Bremen. 

The Thanksgiving dinner was on the fancier side and everyone dressed up. The meal was really good and even upon our arrival we were greeted with sugar cookies in the form of pumpkins and a glass of champagne. We talked with some of the German guests including students who were in their senior year in high school. So if you are coming to Bremen this coming fall and are sad to miss Cafsgiving as well as real Thanksgiving dinner with your family, don´t worry. The Bremen program has it all figured out and you will have the chance to celebrate this special day even abroad. 

The 4th of July was a casual celebration – a dinner in the style of picnic. We all brought food with us and shared. It was potluck style, and Molly and I brought watermelon since that is the perfect dessert for those hot summer days. We have been extremely lucky with the weather this past semester – a lot of sunny and warm days thanks to which we really started loving Bremen. Everyone was friendly and enthusiastic, and it was nice to have one last get together before everyone starts leaving. 

Internship at BIZME

by Molly Burger ’19

Kneipenquiz

Messe DRAUSSEN

Over this past “Semesterferien,” the two months break from classes in February and March, I interned at the Bremen Information Center for Human Rights and Development (biz). I knew I wanted to have an internship in Bremen even before arriving here and was lucky enough to find out about biz after skyping with Janine Ludwig and telling her about my interests. Biz ended up being a perfect match for me. Everyone there was super friendly and willing to explain something if I didn’t understand it (usually because of the language barrier). I spent most mornings in the main office area attending meetings, or assisting with various tasks, and most

WeltWeitWissen-Kongress, May 2018 in Bremen

afternoons I was in the information center/biz library where I assisted visitors and worked on small projects. Even though there was a certain pattern that I fell into, there were always events, such as a “Kneipenquiz,” the “Messe DRAUSSEN,” and the “Weltweit Wissen-Konferenz” taking place. Through my time at biz I was able to learn more about international development and what working for an NGO would be like, as well as improve my German.

Further info: https://www.bizme.de/

Vienna Excursion – Café Culture and Food

by Kyu Ri Hong

The first thing that comes up in my mind whenever I think of Vienna is coffee and food. There are so many options for good food and coffee and desserts in the city. While we were in Vienna for a little over a week, I was able to experience the café culture as well as try many traditional dishes. Upon arrival, we went to a traditional Viennese Restaurant called “Restaurant Vienna” where I ordered the Wiener Schnitzel vom Kalb. The Wiener Schnitzel is a deep fried, tender-hammered meat (it has to be veal to be called “Viennese;” if it is pork, it will be cheaper and only called “Schnitzel”) and is usually garnished with a slice of lemon. Depending on where you go, you could also get a side of potatoes, a mixed salad, or cranberry sauce. For dessert, I ordered a typical Viennese pastry: Apfelstrudel, and it usually comes with warm vanilla sauce and powdered sugar on top.

Ordering a coffee at a Viennese café is not as easy. For example, when ordering a latte, you should ask for a ‘Melange’ instead of ‘Kaffee mit Milch.’  To get the whole Vienna café culture experience, I went to a traditional café called “Hawelka.” When ordering a beverage at a café in Vienna, you are always served a glass of water with it, which I thought was great because usually in Europe, you have to buy your own glass of water; it is rare for people to ask for tap water. Hawelka is one of the oldest cafes in the city and is usually crowded with both locals and tourists, just like it was when I went to get my cup of hot chocolate. Nevertheless, the waiters were nice and the hot chocolate was delicious.

German 340 – Comparative Cultures: USA – Germany

Every Fall, Dickinson students take this seminar, together with German students. In this course, we reconstruct and evaluate important stages in the more than 300-years old history of German-American relations. Then we ask in which way both cultures have mutually influenced each other.

First, we looked at German emigration to America. In the US census of 1980, more than one fourth of US Americans stated to have German ancestors. For a long time, Germans represented the largest immigration group in the USA with “parallel societies,” but today Germans are completely assimilated. The special history and stories of German immigration appear to be almost forgotten. In the second part of the seminar, we traced the ambivalent image of America as a motor of modernity and a symbol of capitalism – as it developed in the second half of the 19th century. We saw in which way America has always been seen as the “other,” as a counter project to European culture and society – as model and competitor, myth and object of scrutiny, as a target of wishes and dreams, but also of fears and attacks. In the third part, we critically evaluated the transfer of US American pop culture to the former Federal Republic of Germany (BRD) after 1945, with a side-glance to the German Democratic Republic (GDR). Many points of criticism that have been and still are being voiced towards the American culture (which is supposed to be flat, fixated on money, and the like) seem to be contemporary ideas – and yet, we found out that most of them are actually 100-150 years old.

Based upon these insights, we could eventually analyze up-to-date resentments, recent events, alienations, and stereotypes more profoundly and better classify similarities as well as differences in socio-cultural attitudes of both countries. >Dr. Janine Ludwig<

This is what students said:

In my opinion the class was very interesting. It was a good decision to choose it as “General Studies.” I really liked learning about the history and the relationship between America and Germany. Especially the fact that the class consists of students from both countries was really enriching, because of the different perspectives. That made the discussions in class much more interesting. I really liked how the seminar was structured, that we started with the history 300 years ago and ended with the present. Because of that well-structured system it was very informative. One of the most interesting aspects for me was the emigration from Germany to America. By preparing a presentation about the topic and reading many texts about it, I learned a lot. In this context the trip to Bremerhaven to the “Auswandererhaus” was a great experience for me. >Patricia Brüggemeier<

I especially found this course  interesting because not only is it composed of class discussions, but also constitutes presentations and field trips, which were helpful in understanding Germany and its culture. For example, during the semester we had the opportunity to visit two different cities. We first visited the emigration center in Bremerhaven, where German immigrants first took off on their journey to America. There, we were able to experience and learn about the process of the Germans’ emigration and immigration. In December, we visited Berlin, where we mainly learned about German politics. One of the most exciting experiences that I had was when we met Dr. Hans Morrow, a East German politician who experienced the Second World War. Other than the two field trips, we also presented on topics that we chose in the beginning of the semester. Doing the presentation definitely helped me understand the course material better and also to prepare myself for other “Referate” that I had to do for my other classes. >Kyu Ri Hong<

Although I have studied American history and German history separately in the past, it was really interesting to focus on how they relate to one another. One thing I especially enjoyed was when Prof. Ludwig talked about her own experiences growing up in the DDR. It was incredible to see the actual files that the Stasi had on her father. To us, the GDR seemed more like history. Now it feels much more recent and learning about it helped me better understand current-day Germany. Personal experiences helped me fully absorb what we were learning. Also, having grown up in Pennsylvania, I was interested in our classes which covered my state’s close ties to Germany. Many people I know have German heritage, and now I understand their history a little better. I feel like I have a much clearer picture of the influence the US and Germany have had over one another. >Frances Youmans<

I have never wondered about the relationship between the United States and Germany. Therefore, I’m not sure why I’ve chosen a course called Comparative Cultures – USA / Germany. Anyway, I do have a few prejudices about the USA. Especially in the last one or two years the public opinion in Germany about the image of the USA changed for the worse and so had mine. That’s the reason why it’s so exciting to look back on the history and ask ourselves how and why the relationship between the USA and Germany changed and developed from last 300 years to today. Maybe we can learn something from this history? What I’ve learned is understanding. Understanding for the different historic experiences of each state and how it has formed the societies and their positions on both sides of the Atlantic. I’ve got a new perspective on the relationship between the United States and Germany. >Maike Schukenbrock<

One topic of the seminar that I enjoyed was the Americanization of Germany. While living in Germany, I have noticed an American influence here. I always hear people referencing Hollywood movies, talking about American bands, or using English words and I never really knew where this came from. I just assumed it had something to do with the American occupation of Germany and the fact that the U.S. is an influential country. It was interesting to learn about the details of Americanization, such as how different groups have reacted to it, what aspects in particular have taken hold in Germany, and why young people have gravitated towards American culture. Both the class readings and ones I found on my own were helpful in better understanding the topic. I enjoyed building off of what we learned in class, while researching for the paper. Because the topic of Americanization is so big, it was nice to be able to focus on what interested me. At the beginning of the semester we did a lesson on German immigration to the U.S. and how Germans have impacted American culture. I liked learning about the exchange between the two countries and how over the past hundreds of years both have played a role in shaping the other’s culture. >Molly Burger<

There were some very interesting parts of German 340, and most topics I found very intriguing, but if I have to pick a favorite, it would be the German influence of Pennsylvanian (in addition to other German communities that existed within the United States). Growing up, my Nana always talked about how we were Pennsylvania Dutch. From her home cooked meals to the way that she decorated her house, she always made a point that she was influenced by Pennsylvania Dutch traditions. I always used to take note of that, but I never really looked into what it really meant until I started studying German 3 years ago. In my previous German classes, the Pennsylvania Dutch traditions were always mentioned, but they were never fully elaborated, as they were in this class. I am very appreciative to have a better understanding of my heritage, as well as the traditions and the historical background that came along with that. I guess my lack of knowledge regarding the traditions that come along with my heritage really attests to how well integrated my German ancestors were into American society. Going to the emigration Museum in Bremerhaven was particularly interesting because I was able to see the common conditions of German immigrants to America. While I was not able to trace back my relatives to see if they immigrated from Bremerhaven because no one in my family knows the surnames, it was interesting to imagine what it was like for my an-cestors who immigrated to American from Germany all those years ago. I will definitely do some more research and reading on this because of its interesting nature in addition to the personal connection that the topic has for me. >Ben Soder<

I found the second half of this course particularly interesting because I learned new things about the German history and culture from the last century. In particular, the terms Deutscher Sonderweg and Americanization were both new for me, and I think that they both reveal something very important about the German culture. We discussed that the term Deutscher Sonderweg claims that the country Germany is unique because it has changed its government from aristocracy to democracy in a way that is incomparable to any other European countries. This opinion about the unique German path causes disputes and one can easily argue that every single country is unique in its own way because no country on earth has ever gone through the “normal path.” Furthermore, after the collapse of 1945, the term Sonderweg took a rather negative meaning because of Hitler’s rules and Germany’s fault in the Second World War. After we learned about the Sonderweg, we concentrated a lot on the aftermath of WWII and in particular, the role which the USA has played in Germany and the way the USA has been perceived by the Germans throughout the past decades.

For me it was interesting to learn more about the American influence on the development of German culture in the second half of the last century and to discuss whether or not there is room and proof to believe that the Germans have been Americanized in a different way than any other nation. Some claim this because of the state in which West Germany found itself after WWII – had it not been for the American support, it would probably not have recovered so fast from its loss. The presence of Americans was also important because of the cultural changes and influences that they brought with themselves – economic support and interdependence as well as pop culture were among the most interesting topics for me. I found the last classes that we had (for example, the class in which we discussed rock music or the last class in which we had the debate between “Americans” and “Germans”) very intriguing because the events which we discussed are still relatively fresh in our memory, and I also believe I can relate more so to the last century because my parents and grandparents have talked to me a lot about this period of our history and have shared their own experiences with me. Hence, reading more about this part of the German history gave me a new perspective and helped me understand better the relationship between Germany and the USA and which events have been important in shaping the interdependence between the two countries. >Stefani Zaharieva<

Working in Bremen

By Katelyn King ’18

During my time in Bremen, I decided to look for a job to help supplement my travel addiction. I asked Dr. Ludwig for some help and she remembered seeing an email come through her inbox about a student assistant job with Faculty 10, the language departments. Janine Ludwig inquired about the job for me and I applied by submitting my German resume and cover letter, which I had just learned to write in my language class. During the interview, I was offered the job as the student assistant for the ERASMUS office for FB10.

My job included answering emails in German or English, filing paperwork, organizing applications for outgoing students, creating transcripts as credit certificates arrived from professors, and helping incoming students to create their class schedules. I was kind of like a mini Verena, with half of the responsibility, but with 200 students. I worked 6 hours a week, at the times that fit my schedule and that were outside of my boss’s schedule (we shared the office and the only computer).

The position really helped me out financially and helped me to improve my formal German, as I had to communicate professionally via email. It gave me professional experience in a foreign country to put on my resume, which not only backs up my computer and management skills, but also substantiates my listed language proficiency. I also learned to appreciate all the support that we get from Dickinson, Janine Ludwig, and Verena Mertz, because the ERASMUS students are on their own for a lot of things. I would highly recommend seeking employment in Bremen. It might seem intimidating at first, but it is definitely worth it.

The William ’71 and Elke Durden Literary Series at Bremen #3: Lana Lux

by Janine Ludwig

For the third William ’71 and Elke Durden Literary Series at Bremen on November 9, 2017, we cooperated with the Institute for Cultural German Studies (IfkuD) at the University of Bremen. The student workshop, organized by Dr. Janine Ludwig, was the opener of a three-day conference on German-language literature written by migrant writers from Eastern Europe and Russia, under the title: Migration Foreground, Province Background. German Speaking (World) Literature from Eastern Europe.

In this workshop, the Dickinsonians currently studying in Bremen and German students talked with the author Lana Lux about her debut novel Kukolka. The novel tells the story of an orphan child named Samira who lives in a protectory in Dnipropetrovsk, Eastern Ukraine. At the age of seven, she loses her best friend Marina who is adopted by a wealthy German couple. Subsequently, she decides to flee the orphange, hoping to make her way to Germany to reunite with Marina. Instead, she finds a new “home” in an Oliver-Twist-like gang of teenage beggars and thieves led by the pimp Rocky who adores her and calls her Kukolka (Russian for “little doll”). For years, she thinks he is saving money for her to make her finally see the “land of plenty” called Germany. When, at the age of twelve, she finds out  that this will never happen, she leaves him for a beautiful young man named Dima who becomes her great love and promises to take her to the wonderland that is Germany. He keeps his promise, but only to talk her into and later force her into prostitution. While still clinging to her naïve hopes for a better life, she ends up in a brothel with other Eastern European girls, with similar stories and the same shattered dreams. Samira manages to escape again, and a Ukrainian woman named Olga who can translate between both worlds helps her to finally meet her friend Marina again after eight years of separation.

With Lana Lux, who came to Germany at the age of ten from the same town as her protagonist, we discussed the different images and (mis-)perceptions of Germany as a new dreamland for migrants. Lux read passages from her both funny and hyper-realistic novel which we then analyzed. In this lively talk, our guest answered the students’ questions and told memorable stories from her childhood in the Ukraine, her first impressions as a school child in Germany, her experiences of being discriminated against as a Jew, and her yearning for her homeland which she has not visited in almost twenty years.

Lana Lux describing the scrutiny at the border control when she entered Germany

The workshop also related to our current seminar “German 340 – Comparative Cultures – USA/Germany” in which we analyze the former emigration from Germany to the United States and the myth of America as a “promised land” for immigrants. Comparing these findings, we opened the discussion to larger questions of flight and migration and cast a cultural studies oriented glance at the current image of Germany in the world.

At the evening of the same day, Lana Lux gave a public reading of her novel which was also sponsored by Bill and Elke Durden as part of our Literary Series. The IfkuD conference, which was open to our students as an opportunity to take a peek at up-to-date German academia, also cooperated with the renowned international literary festival globaleo (November 3-13).

Further information:

http://www.deutschlandstudien.uni-bremen.de/aktuelles/

http://globale-literaturfestival.de/

 

 

 

Orientation Week: Settling in

by Molly Burger & Kyu Ri Hong

 

IKEA Trip

An orientation week trip to Ikea is an absolute must. Sure, pretty much everything in your apartment is already from Ikea, but hey at least it all matches now. Maybe grab a carpet, some curtains, and a plant or something, and definitely don’t forget to pick up posters for your wall. I still somehow have yet to discover a store downtown that actually sells posters, so my room is basically a mini Ikea store at this point (which is awesome cause Ikea is awesome). Plus, although you’re not in Sweden, Germany is definitely a lot closer than the US, so maybe the meatballs or whatever food you like to get there is a little bit closer to the real thing (probs not but still).

Uni Orientation Events

You know all of those super random sounding activities in the orientation week that Verena told you about, like the Erasmus movie night, the city tour, and all of those bar crawls? Go to them! They’re usually super fun and are great opportunities to meet new people. You don’t have to go to all of them, but try to check out as many as possible. At the very least you’ll have a good time and get to know a new aspect of Bremen.

Explore Bremen

Christmas and New Years in Deutschland: the holidays from northern, to southern, to central GermanyExplore Bremen! Now’s your chance to just walk around the city for as long as you want before classes start. The sooner you get to know the streets, restaurants, bars and museums of Bremen the better and you’ll really feel like the city is yours. And now’s the perfect time to see the sights of Bremen, like the “Stadtmusikanten”, which I actually visited twice during the orientation week. Hanging out in the city during orientation week is a good contrast to the time you’ll be spending with other students getting to know the Uni Bremen and it’s a good amount of time you can spend at museums, concerts and the theater, all of which Dickinson reimburses.

Registration

Now that you’re in Germany, you have to make sure that you have your visa. There is also something called the Meldebestätigung, which is a proof of your residence in Germany. In order to obtain these two documents, there is an office on campus called the BSU. It is only open for a certain period of time on only Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays so there’s always a line. I highly suggest that you go and wait in line at least an hour before the opening hour and wait. I got there 45 minutes before the opening hour and had to wait almost three hours just to go through a 10-minute-long process.

Grocery Shopping

Life in Bremen will definitely be different from that at Dickinson. One of the biggest challenges (at least that’s how I feel about it) is having to provide your own meals. There definitely is an option to eat at the Mensa but I don’t have class every day, hence I’m not on campus every day. There are a few supermarkets nearby. For example, I mainly go to the REWE Supermarkt on Wätjenstrasse, which is two tram stops away. It’s close and convenient since it’s right by the tram stop. I also like to go to the market in the city which is open from 9:00-14:00. There’s definitely more fresh options of fruits and vegetables at the market.

Study Buddy

A study buddy is the best way to make a German friend. The university pairs you up with a German student that probably shares the same major (not necessarily in my case) with you or the same interests with you. You have to sign up for this online. It’s nice to have someone who you can practice your German conversational skills with and to meet up regularly just to talk or to explore more of Bremen.

Opening a Bank Account

In order to receive your monthly stipend, you’ll need to have a German bank account. There’s a bank called Sparkasse on campus that you could go to. It took me two weeks just to get an appointment here, so I suggest that you go to the bank as soon as you have your Meldebestätigung, since that’s one of the documents you need when you open a new bank account. The appointment lasts only 15 minutes and you get your credit/debit card, along with the pin to your card/s, in your mailbox after about a week.

Looking Back at a Year in Bremen

by Lee Mottola, ’18

 

It is really hard to put into words what this year abroad was for me. I guess I’ll start by saying it was real. It was a real experience, it was filled with happiness, laughter, friends and wonder, it was filled with anger, frustration, loneliness and regret. It was everything I needed it to be.

In Bremerhaven, at the North Sea

I arrived in Germany on July 6th 2016 as a cocky american boy with romanticized expectations for the summer and the year I was about to have. I left Germany on July 28th 2017, humbled and appreciative of everything my year threw at me, every challenge I had to surmount. From the lowest low of being truly alone, no friends no family and limited ability to talk to those around me in the small Bavarian town of Tegernsee, to challenge of my first days of class at German University, to the realization that the life I had been building over this past year was about to end, there were moments where I was extremely unhappy. But now, being back at Dickinson, every time I’m asked about my time in Germany, without hesitation I say it was the best year in my life. After hearing about the bad times I’m sure that’s hard to believe, but for every time I was down in the dumps there were five I was over the moon with happiness and excitement. My last day on the job as a beer delivery boy and the goodbye everyone at the brewery gave to me, my first time at Oktoberfest, meeting the incredible students and teachers at the University of Bremen, traveling to 13 different countries with friends new and old, scoring my first goal as a member of the Uni Bremen Lacrosse Team, nights spent on my roof with my best friends just talking and being surround by people you love and that you know love you.

Dickinson group and puppet in the emigration museum, on an imitation of a ship to America

All of those great things that happened to me felt so much more satisfying because I knew they were not achieved without effort, without difficulty. I love Bremen, without a doubt. That city gave me so much in the ways of opportunities to study and research incredible topics with engaged and passionate professors, to the friends I made in and outside the classroom, I will be forever thankful for the year I spent there. As I said earlier its hard to put the enormous sea of emotions I have about Bremen and Germany into words but I hope you now have some idea about how special this place can be. If I could hit the rewind button and start it all again without knowing what I know now, reliving every difficult moment and every triumphant experience I would, I wouldn’t change a thing about my year abroad because above all else it was real. 

Annual Report 2016-17

Another year has gone by. Another group of students has spent a year in Bremen and has gone back to Dickinson for their senior year. Please find our program report on what we did in this past academic year here:

Durden Dickinson Bremen Program – Annual Report 2016-17

 

Greetings from Bremen!

Janine Ludwig, Academic Director

Independent Research Project on NATO

by Lee Mottola ’18

 

It was an idea born in the streets of Vienna. Originally I wasn’t convinced I could or even wanted to do it, but after deep discussion with my Program Director and Professor Dr. Janine Ludwig my idea for the Kurth-Voigt Research Project was born. Only days after writing my proposal to research the coming federal elections in Germany, and what that would mean for Germany’s future in the NATO alliance, specifically what their plans were regarding the now infamous 2% military spending goal for members, I had heard that I was awarded the scholarship.

Research began immediately upon my return to Bremen from our class trip to Vienna, with the guidance of both Professor Ludwig and Professor Ulrich Franke of the University of Bremen and INIIS (“Institut fuer Interkulturelle und Internationale Studien”) I discovered various sources, from German talk shows to parliamentary speeches, which deepened my knowledge on the subject and its complexities. But any student could have found these very same sources and used them to write a paper whether they were in the US or in Bremen beside me, that is why I was determined to differentiate the content of my research by getting first hand accounts and information directly from those shaping these important decisions. To that end I reached out to German politicians of all parties and coalitions, as well as members of the German NATO community. Not all of my efforts were successful and many of those I tried to contact were too busy to schedule an interview at the time. However in the end I was able to conduct four interviews with members of the German parliament, Johannes Kahrs (SPD), Dr. André Berghegger (CDU), Florian Hahn (CSU) and Dr. Tobias Lindner (Grüne) in their offices in Berlin and Hamburg to discuss their expectations for the coming election and how it would influence Germany’s future roll in NATO.

After months of collecting all this data, in July it finally became time to sit down and write this paper. What I originally anticipated as being a 20-25 page research paper quickly grew beyond my expectation simply because of the detail and complexity of the subject. A lot of blood, sweat, tears and Club Mate (an amazing energy drink made of yerba mate tea) were poured into my work. There were many days when I wanted to chuck my laptop out of the five story high window of the Dickinson room on the Uni Bremen campus dashing all my work asunder, but in the end I persevered and delivered the final 34 page copy of my “Magnum Opus” mere days before leaving Bremen. Of all the things I did while abroad, of all the opportunities I took, this research project, though incredibly demanding, frustrating and at times down right tortuous, is my proudest moment from the year abroad. And it never would have happened if not for a stroll through the streets of Vienna.