Bremen is fun?

by Lee Mottola

After a summer working in a picturesque Bavarian mountain town and a subsequent month in Munich during Oktoberfest it’s safe to say my threshold for fun has reached one of its highest points. With that in mind I was looking towards my next new start in Bremen with mixed feelings. Sure, I would be getting back to a university and all the excitement that comes from being around other 20 something’s in a country where even my little sister could legally drink, but Bremen isn’t exactly known for its party scene. Even among abroad options at Dickinson it’s pretty much ignored by anyone who isn’t pining for the self-torture that is learning the German language (I jest).


Lee at the North Sea

After a few days of pre-orientation all the German students arrived and life began to spring up on the concrete and steel campus that I now call my own. The first week of orientation here in Germany is pretty much syllabus week back at Dickinson, except with even less classes. There’s also the small fact that before orientation week you haven’t chosen classes yet. The first two weeks are dedicated to trying every conceivable class you could have interest in. I personally started with 20 and ended with 4 and that is pretty normal.

That being said 20 courses in two weeks wasn’t going to stop me from having fun and if there was one thing I learned from being in Germany for months previous, it’s that if you want to have fun you have to make it. It doesn’t matter if you don’t speak the language, if you’re on your own or nervous, just jump in and take a chance. That is what study abroad is about right? Anyways, German-syllabus week was flush with opportunities to jump in, from dance parties in a rented-out tram cart to bar tours throughout the infamous Kultur Hub of the Viertel anything and everything was on the table. There was also a very interesting underground Deutsch Rap concert mixed in much to my surprise. It all culminated in a trip for my fellow Politikwissenschaft first years to some sleep away camp outside of the city where we drank the obnoxious amount of beer provided to us by older students in the major and danced to horribly chosen playlists (also provided by the older students in the major) Sure, there was a lot of drinking but I guess that’s could actually be considered a German cultural event if you don’t think too hard about it. In that first week, I met almost all of the people, German, Polish, Italian or otherwise that are now my closest friends here. Throughout the summer and my time in Munich I never had that much luck meeting people. The difference between them? Here in Bremen I jumped into every opportunity I got and in the process I also figured out Bremen is pretty fun.

Posted in Fun

Dickinson Hosts Conference In Bremen

Dickinson students participate in a Resident Directors Conference hosted by the Durden Dickinson Bremen Program

View from the venue onto the river Weser and onto the city center

View from the venue onto the river Weser and onto the city center © Anneke ter Veen

On November 11th and 12th, 2016, the Dickinson Durden Bremen Program hosted the annual conference of the Association of American Study Abroad Programs in Germany (AASAP). 27 members of the association, plus speakers and students, met at the guest house of the University of Bremen “Auf dem Teerhof 58,” which was purchased in the 1980s with the support of Dickinson College. The venue is beautifully located on an island in the river Weser.

Keynote speaker Neil van Siclen (CSDAC)

Keynote speaker Neil van Siclen (CSDAC) © Anneke ter Veen

The participants, representing different German-American study abroad institutions from all over Germany, discussed trends and goals in study abroad. The keynote speaker, Neil van Siclen, President of the Carl Schurz German-American Club (CSDAC) in Bremen, presented an insightful meta-study on motivations of American students for studying abroad (in Germany). Please find the conference program, van Siclen’s presentation, and a video here:

RD Programm 2016 final

Neil van Siclen Presentation RD Conference

 © Anneke ter Veen, CompanyTeeVee


Student Workshop: One Month at Uni Bremen – Student Experiences

The exchange of experiences between program directors helps them to strive towards improving their programs and adapting to new trends and situations. Thus, one of the highlights of the conference was a workshop with 6 Dickinson students who are currently spending their junior year abroad at the University of Bremen: Katelyn King, Yelyzaveta Konovalova, Zhen Luo, Lee Mottola, Caroline Pappalardo, and Meghan Straub talked to the participants about their experiences, motivations, and strategies in three different areas: 1. Expectations and Reasons for Choosing Germany, 2. Cultural Matters. First Impressions, 3. Academic Matters. First Impressions of Courses.

Janine Ludwig and the Dickinson students before their panel

Moderator Janine Ludwig (next to the Dickinson students) explains the format of the rotating talks before the panel

Student panel - Meghan (l.) and Zhen (r.) speaking with the participants (4)

Student panel – Meghan (l.) and Zhen (r.) speaking with the participants (4)

Student panel - Liza and Lee speaking with the participants

Student panel – Liza and Lee speaking with the participants

After the roating talks, the participants who had written flip chart posters, presented summaries of their talks with the students. They were very impressed with the Dickinson students, not only with the great German they spoke, but also with the interesting reflections they shared.

Student panel - summary of the talks with the students

Student panel – summary of the talks with the students

Student panel - summary of the talks with the students (2)

Student panel – summary of the talks with the students (2)

Please find the student statement summaries here:

DiB RD Conference Student Workshop – English JL




In the evening, the participants and students took part in the Bremen lantern walk for St. Martin’s day and had dinner together.

St. Martin`s day - Kate (l.) and Liza (r.) with conference particpiants on lantern walk Lichtermeer

St. Martin`s day – Kate (l.) and Liza (r.) with conference particpiants on lantern walk Lichtermeer

Dinner after the first conference day - students with participants

Dinner after the first conference day – students with participants

The William G. and Elke Durden Dickinson in Bremen Program – represented by the Academic Director Dr. Janine Ludwig and the Program Coordinator Verena Mertz – and the AASAP, represented by Chief Executive Dr. Kurt Gamerschlag, would like to thank Neil van Siclen (CSDAC), Dr. Annette Lang, Head of the International Office of the University of Bremen, the participants, and our students for making this a successful conference!

Verena Mertz, Kurt Gamerschlag (AASAP), Neil van Siclen (CSDAC), Anette Lang (Uni Bremen), Janine Ludwig (from left to right)

Verena Mertz, Kurt Gamerschlag (AASAP), Neil van Siclen (CSDAC), Annette Lang (Uni Bremen), Janine Ludwig (from left to right) © Anneke ter Veen

Emigration Museum: an Adventure Through Time and Genealogy

by Kate King

Most people familiar with the German Department at Dickinson are aware that in Bremen full year students take one Dickinson course taught by Dr. Ludwig, better known as Janine, our academic director. The course is a cultural comparison of Germany and the USA. In our first few classes, we discussed emigration from Germany to the USA, which began in the late 1600’s and continued, usually in waves depending on what was going on in Europe, for the next few hundred years.


Kayla, Yvonne, Meghan, Caroline, Lee (fr.l.t.r.), back row: Janine, Fynn, Zhen, Siyun

IMG_0336To learn more about this, we took a field trip to Bremerhaven (the second city of the Bremen city-state) to visit the Deutsches Auswanderer Haus, or German Emigration Center. Bremen bought Bremerhaven in 1827 to replace its inland ports that were at risk from sediment deposition and it quickly became a hot spot for emigration due to the quick access to the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean.

Me, Kate

Me, Kate

Now if anyone reading this knows me, you probably know that I am a double science major and I minor in German for the language skills – I do not enjoy museums. I am like a three-year-old child in museums: if you don’t keep my attention with interactive things, I get tired and hungry and just want to go home. This museum catered to my inner toddler. Upon arrival, we were all issued boarding passes with the name of an emigrant of Germany and another name of an immigrant that came to Germany.


Caroline before departure

Caroline and friends

We started the tour by entering a replica of the waiting hall, which was part of the original emigration office that millions of people went through to leave Europe.

We were then guided into the next room to the docks where heard farewells from families. The next room, the Gallery of the 7 Million, allowed us to hear the personal stories of our emigrants. We then climbed the stairs of the ship seen from the docks and entered the ship to begin our voyage.


Caroline and Meghan



We ended up walking through different points in technological developments. The first had a small room, close to a double dorm room on Dickinson’s campus, with most of the room being built up into a bed with hay, a bucket, and no electricity. The room would have been shared by multiple families. The next stage had more of individualized bunk beds and a bathroom. The final stage had individual beds with proper sheets and an attached dining room with windows, all with electricity.

Ship in rough sea...

Ship in rough sea…



Poor emigrants: Meghan, Zhen, Kayla, Kate (fr.l.)

Caroline and Lee emigrating

Caroline and Lee emigrating








Everyone at the dinner table of the steam liner

After we enjoyed our dinner with the passengers, we arrived in the New World. We were taken to Ellis Island where we were tested to see if we could enter the country. If we passed (Lee did not), we could continue to New York City to Grand Central Station. At Grand Central we listened to the end of our emigrants’ stories. Mine emigrated to Brazil and opened a tea company and the descendants still meet up regularly.

Several Bremens in the USA

Blue dots = Several Bremens in the USA…

The seminar group at Grand Central Station

The seminar group at Grand Central Station

After leaving Grand Central, we crossed the bridge and became immigrants into Germany. This area had replicas of different shops that were opened by immigrants in the 1950’s-70’s. There was an ice cream café, hair dresser, camera shop, book shop, department store, kiosk, and cinema. The cinema showed films about immigration in Germany, but they were showing a feature while we were there that looked at relationships between Turks and Germans.

Katie's possible ancestors

Katie’s possible ancestors

My favorite part of the whole tour was the family history room at the end. You could look through their computer records and find your family members. A few of us came prepared with names. I had photos of a genealogy book that someone in my family had put together not too long after I was born. So I went to the oldest name I could find and traced it back another two generations. The book I had said that he came from Switzerland, but the information I found through the portal said that he was born in Zweibrücken, which is close to where I lived when I did my exchange year in high school, and his father was born in Hannover in 1681, which is right next to Bremen. It is definitely something that I want to investigate further. Hopefully, I can find some living German relatives.

Animated photo show:


Wir sind Werder Bremen!

by Helen Schlimm


Ira, Carol, Phoebe, Helen (fr. left t. right)

I don’t believe that a true German study abroad experience would be complete without attending a real soccer game and finding oneself in the middle of the beautiful madness that is this nation’s most beloved sport. The spirits were certainly high, and the stakes were even higher at the recent Werder Bremen game against Stuttgart, with a loss guaranteeing a drop into the second league for Bremen. Despite signs protesting Monday-evening games, excitement, tension and anticipation amongst the green and white fans filled the entire stadium. The next 90 minutes were action-packed, astonishing and thrilling as Werder flattened Stuttgart 6-2, and no Bremer could have been happier! Strangers were hugging strangers, everybody was cheering, chanting, singing and proudly holding their Werder scarves high! It was such an incredible atmosphere and a really fun game of Fußball to follow. The entire city was united by this win in that stadium, and it was so exciting to be a part of the soccer culture that is so fundamentally German. Werder Bremen Olé! Lebenslang grün-weiß!


“Stoppen” – from left to right: Janine Ludwig (under the “O”), Ira (under the left “P”), Carol (betw. the “Ps”) Phoebe (under the right “P”), Helen (under the “E”)

P.S.: Eventually, in the very last game of the season, on May 14, 2016, Werder secured its continuance in the 1st league / Erste Bundesliga (“Klassenerhalt”) by winning 1:0 against Frankfurt. Hooray! “Nie mehr Zweite Liga!”

Posted in Fun

Poetic Alumnus

by Dr. Janine Ludwig

Last week, I attended a Dickinson Resident Directors’ Meeting in Málaga, Spain, where the directors of several European Dickinson programs and staff from the CGSE met to engage in fruitful discussions and exchange experiences.

Geo reading from his poems

Geo reading from his poems

To my surprise, this business trip brought about a completely unforeseen, coincidental reunion: Former Dickinson student Geo Nikolov ’14 gave a presentation at the cultural café “The Shakespeare,” where he was introduced by Prof. Eva Copeland, Director of the Dickinson in Málaga Program. I have known Geo since he had spent the academic year 2012/13 in our Bremen program, and I also knew that, after his graduation in 2014, he completed a master’s degree in Málaga. But little did I know that he also wrote poetry in Spanish (and English, too) and would be back in Málaga in order to present his first book: “Paseos marítimos” (Beach Promenades).

Nikolov Geo

Geo Nikolov ’14

One has to know that Geo is a linguistic genius, speaking 4 languages (Bulgarian, English, German, and Spanish) at native-speaker level. And if that was not extraordinary enough, here is a geology major who writes poetry and will soon go on to work at a publishing company.

How nice to see a former student again in such circumstances!



I come back from my walk
along the water
smelling as if
I have been sitting in front of a fire.

Nikolov, Geo: Paseos marítimos. Málaga: Mitad Doble ediciones. Ediciones del Genal, 2016. Coordina: Jonatan Santos. 95 pgs. ISBN: 978-84-16626-10-6. Precio: 9,95 €.

A Funded Fairytale

by Rachel Schilling ’16

During my time abroad in Bremen German, I worked with Professor Janine Ludwig to apply for and complete a SIRF grant given to me by CGSE at Dickinson. This 750$ grant funded a short term research trip around the German states of Hessen and Niedersachsen to visit all of the major fairy tale museums and speak with some of the leading scholars in Grimm Brother’s research in Germany.

The Grimm Brothers – statue in Hanau

Old town of Marburg

I was able to visit the cities where the brothers were born, grew up, studied and worked and read about the major themes in fairy tale research and Grimm research. This passion project began my sophomore year at Dickinson, when I was able to take an introduction to fairy tales course in the English department. From this course I not only learned a strong background in fairy tale studies but also realized that I needed guidance in the field if I were ever to manage a thesis or project on the Grimm Brothers. I set out to Hessen to feel the pulse of research and emerging ideas.


Throughout my trip I visited Hanau, Steinau, Kassal, Marburg and Bad Oeyenhausen. I was able to discern a revival in the research about the relationship between fairy tales and the romantic idea of the “Volk.”

Back at Dickinson in my Fall semester, I began work with Professor McGaughey on a year long research project, which would eventually accumulate to my bachelor’s thesis in German. I applied the directions and focus gained through my SIRF grant to more intense analysis of the texts and contexts around the Grimm Brothers.


As my final semester of Dickinson draws to a close I am working on the final parts of my German thesis which attempts to connect the concept of “the Volk” to the portrayal of farmers and peasants in the fairy tales and the literary style of the Grimm Brothers.


Flowers in Kassel

Welcome Back With Fulbright!

Herzlichen Glückwunsch to Rachel and Ezra!

Rachel and Ezra happy.

by Dr. Janine Ludwig

As we learned today, two of the students who had spent the academic year 2014/15 in Bremen, will return to Germany on a Fulbright scholarship: Rachel Schilling ’16 and Ezra Sassaman ’16.

Congratulations! Herzlichen Glückwunsch!

We look forward to seeing you again in Bremen…

This announcement continues a long line of successes our students had with applying for this prestigious scholarship as well as for the renowned DAAD scholarships.


Poland Excursion March 2016

Art exhibition along the city wall of Kraków.

Art exhibition along the city wall of Kraków.

Kraków Old Town

Our Dickinson-in-Poland excursion was very diverse and well-planned. The schedule provided us with friendly and knowledgable Polish tour guides who made sure we were not walking through the old and historical cities without knowing what we were walking past. I found the group walking tour of Krakow to be especially interesting and also helpful. Thanks to the tour, we were given a good overview of the different areas of Krakow and we never needed to use a map in order to refind those places to which we wanted to return. Despite trekking through the one day of not-so-great weather, the tour introduced us to the most beautiful and most historical of Krakow and I enjoyed every minute. Ultimately, despite having spent only a few days there, I felt as though I received a good sense of how the city was shaped by hundreds of years of history and tradition, an understanding that cannot be neglected if one is to really feel as though any foreign city has become a temporary home. >Carol Rynar ‘ 17<

The Wawel Castle

One of the highlights of this excursion was the beautiful, historic centrum of Kraków, the Old Town Market Square or Rynek Główny. One of the largest historic market squares in Europe, the unique and lovely spot contains an underground archeological museum, the ornate and awe-inspiring St. Mary’s Basilica, a line of shops and carriages, hundreds of flocking pigeons, and the Jagiellonian University class where we had our interesting lecture series. We were especially lucky to experience this vibrant city around Easter with a charming Easter and spring-themed market on the main square. >Helen Schlimm ‘ 17<


One of our first days in Poland, we visited the city of Gdansk, which involved a three-hour train ride from Warsaw; a far but worthwhile journey. We met with our tour guide outside the train station, who led us towards the shipyards where the Solidarity movement grew its roots. We walked under the gate where Lech Walesa shared the news that a deal had been made with the communist government in 1980. We entered the museum to learn of the events that led up to that critical moment. Through interactive dioramas, props and photographs, we learned about the struggle against communism and martial law and the numerous political uprisings that took place because of that struggle. We saw the original 21 demands of the 1980 shipyard demonstration handwritten on old plywood, which led to the creation of the first trade union. I learned a lot about Polish history and am really appreciative of the opportunity to have seen this great historical city. >Phoebe Allebach ‘ 17<

The famous Gate No. 2 at the Gdansk Shipyard.

The famous Gate No. 2 at the Gdansk Shipyard.

Vienna Calling – Excursion 2016

Schönbrunn – Sehr schön indeed!

Whole group Schoenbrunn

From left to right: Ira, Phoebe, Carol, Helen, Janine Ludwig

We were really lucky to experience the Schönbrunn Palace on the sunniest day of our excursion! Only a twenty-minute train ride outside the city center, this absolutely stunning palace and gardens really lives up to its name with an unbelievable self-guided tour through the regal halls and rooms of the summer home of the Hapsburg Emperors and Empresses, most notably Maria Theresia and Elisabeth “Sissi”. From finely enameled wallpaper and portraits to bejeweled mirrors, chandeliers and furniture it was really exciting to experience the wealth of the empire and imagine living in a time where one might actually attend a ball in the great hall. The gardens and grounds were also gorgeous and provided an awesome view of the city from the short hike up the hill! >Helen Schlimm<

4 students in Schoenbrunn

Schönbrunn Gardens: Ira Lauer, Helen Schlimm, Carol Rynar, Phoebe Allebach (from left to right)


The National Library

One of my favorite experiences on this trip was our visit to the national library. Thanks to Austrian National Libraryour program, we were given this unique opportunity that we would not have otherwise had, had we just visited on our own. (It was incredibly satisfying to be ushered behind a red velvet rope to an off-limits section of the library for a closer look at the books while normal tourists watched jealously on.) We were given a private tour by a very knowledgeable and friendly professor, who gave us a thorough history of the library building as well as of the books. We began outside the doors with a description of the library’s impressive exterior before we headed up the Stiege (a new regional German word was learned on the way up the stairs) and I was able to use the same key Maria Theresa used during the 18th Century to open the large library door into one of the most beautiful and priceless rooms I have ever seen.

Students looking at Luther Bible

Students looking at an original Luther bible from the 16th century, adorned with paintings from Lucas Cranach the Elder!

We learned how to read a bit of the symbolism painted on the impressive ceiling fresco before we had the opportunity to actually read (and handle!) two texts from the Habsburg collection from the 16th Century. Vienna is a city full of history, that fact can be grasped easily enough just by walking down the street, but to actually hold in your hands a document so incredibly old and so carefully cared for helped me to appreciate how valuable such history is and how concerned Vienna is with conserving it. From the Schatzkammer to the Kunsthistorisches Museum even to the Kaisergruft, it is obvious the Habsburgs liked to collect priceless artefacts, but I think it is safe to say that the Nationalbibliothek contained Vienna’s most impressive collection. >Carol Rynar<

One of the best experiences of my time in Vienna was our city tour. Vienna is such an old and beautiful city with nearly 1000 years of history. Walking through the city’s streets lined with architecture from Baroque to Art Nouveau was out of the world and will be a life-long memory. >Ira Lauer<

Academic substance

The Habsburg Crown - made of chocolate and marzipan

The broader theme of this excursion is German-Austrian history and culture from the middle ages until today. In three introductury lectures, I lead the students back to the origins of what is “German,” (an umbrella term coined by Tacitus) and why we are named after different tribes in other languages, like “Allemannen”, a.k.a. Swabians or “Deutsch,” stemming from “theodisk” which actually means belonging to the people / folk-like. From the defeat of the Romans in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest through the migration period, we follow the emergence of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, from Charles the Great (800) to its dissolution after the Napoleonic conquests (1806) using historic maps and documentaries. At the same time, we track the rise of the Habsburg dynasty from 1273 until 1918 and the overlapping of the Austro-Hungarian k.u.k Monarchy, later the Austrian Empire (1804-1918) with the German Empire (1871-1918). Backed up with this information, the students can better understand the museum exhibits and grasp the importance of Vienna as a former political and cultural center of Europe. And additionally, we indulge in the imperial glamour and the culinary abundance of this beautiful city. >Dr. Janine Ludwig<