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.


Uni Bremen Yearbook Featuring Dickinson

On February 23, 2016, the University of Bremen proudly presented its Yearbook 2015 and celebrated it with a reception. Since the focus of this yearbook is “cooperation,” it highlights Dickinson College as one of the most esteemed partners and as an example of very fruitful cooperation. Please find the article on the Dickinson Durden Bremen Program here:

UB Jahrbuch 2015 Dickinson

And here, you can read the entire yearbook:

UB091_Jahrbuch2015_komplett_WEB – Kopie

Additionally, a film was presented at the reception, which entails interviews with the most important partners of Uni Bremen – and Dickinson is featured here as well, in interviews with the student Madison Alley, with President Nancy Roseman, former Rector Wilfried Müller, and head of the International Office, Annette Lang (starting at 6:15):


The William ’71 and Elke Durden Literary Series at Bremen #1: Kerstin Hensel


Kerstin Hensel

An advantage of being part of the Dickinson-in-Bremen program is having the opportunity to participate in a variety of cultural events, such as in a private workshop with German author Kerstin Hensel, preceding a reading of one of her books, Lärchenau, later that evening at the theater in Bremen. This workshop provided us with the comfortable environment in which to ask Frau Hensel, who began her writing career in the GDR, many questions concerning literature, culture, and cultural politics behind the Wall, as well as what it meant to be an East German author after Germany’s Reunification. I was interested to learn about how art for the masses was endorsed by the communist government in East Germany, and to learn about the extent in which growing up in the East affected Hensel’s opinions and motivations as a writer. I did not expect to learn that Frau Hensel, despite growing up in the GDR, does not identify herself as an East German writer, but rather as a German writer. It was also interesting to learn that one can differentiate East German from West German writings by recognizing stylistic differences between them. Overall, this workshop allowed me to bring a greater understanding and appreciation of literature to Frau Hensel’s book-reading later that night, and I was thankful to be offered the opportunity to better familiarize myself with the literary culture of East Germany and of the time of German Reunification. >Carol Rynar<

The opportunity to hear a reading from a prominent German author in addition to also participating in a personalized workshop was very exciting. We were able to ask Frau Hensel questions about her background in the DDR and how this has influenced her work today or how she approaches writing novels. This fascinating discussion was very applicable to our theme of Deutsche Einheit and taught me a lot about the foundation of life in East Germany. At the reading, we were treated to segments of her novel Lärchenau and could form parallels between her earlier workshop with us and the story and writing style that we were presented with. This was a really interesting experience to be a part of, and I gained valuable insights into the teachings and thoughts of a modern German author. >Helen Schlimm<

I really enjoyed the workshop wit Kerstin Hensel. I learned a lot about how literature was created and received in the German Democratic Republic. I had no idea that East Germany had such a strong reading culture and how culturally aware the common person was. >Ira Lauer<

Kerstin Hensel reading from her novel "Lärchenau".

Kerstin Hensel reading from her novel “Lärchenau”.

The Kerstin Hensel meeting was informative and interesting. She read an excerpt of one of her books in which she wrote an alternative ending to Hänsel and Gretel. In her version, Hänsel and Gretel accept their captivity and live a secure life with the mean witch. When she finally dies, Hänsel and Gretel are unsure what to do with their freedom and approach the new, unknown world with hesitancy and fear. She wrote this story as a symbol for the people in the DDR, who grew comfortable in their life in the communist east. Overall it was definitely a valuable learning experience, and I really enjoyed listening to a German writer talk about her past and her writing methods. >Phoebe Allebach<

Click HERE to see the flyer of the event.


“And they celebrated for three days and three nights.” This is not only typical for fairy-tale endings when the prince and his bride are happily married, but it also happens in the city of the famous “Bremen Town Musicians” when an American college and a German university commemorate 30 years of a wonderful and strong partnership.

In order to duly celebrate the anniversary of their exchange program, Dickinson College sent a delegation to the University of Bremen in early June which included President Nancy Roseman, Vice President Joyce Bylander, Director of Education Abroad Samantha Brandauer as well as Sarah McGaughey and Jerry Philogene, professors of German and American Studies respectively. They were warmly welcomed by their partners at Uni Bremen and by our Bremen Program staff (Academic Director Janine Ludwig and Program Coordinator Verena Mertz) who had organized several festive events in that first week of June.

Signing of the Renewed Cooperation Agreement, June 3rd

President Roseman and Rector Scholz-Reiter (right) © Harald Rehling, Uni Bremen

President Roseman and Rector Scholz-Reiter (right) © H. Rehling, Uni Bremen

On June 3rd, 2015, Nancy A. Roseman, President of Dickinson College, and Prof. Dr.-Ing. Bernd Scholz-Reiter, Rector of the University of Bremen, are happy to sign a renewed cooperation contract that extends the fruitful collaboration for another 5 years into the future.



The Third Dickinson College Public Lecture, June 3rd

In the evening of that day, the third annual Dickinson College Public Lecture was delivered in the prestigious venue “Stadtwaage” to an audience of about 100 attendees from the University and the city of Bremen.

Joyce Bylander (left) and Yasemin Karakaşoğlu © Harald Rehling, Uni Bremen

Joyce Bylander (left) and Yasemin Karakaşoğlu © H. Rehling, Uni Bremen

After Rector Scholz-Reiter and President Roseman welcomed the audience, Prof. Dr. Karakaşoğlu, Vice Rector for Intercultural and International Affairs at the University of Bremen, introduced her colleague, VP and Dean of Student Life Joyce Bylander who gave a speech on “Delivering on the Promise of Diversity in Higher Education.” The topic and the lecture strongly resonated with the Bremen audience who participated in a lively discussion after the talk and during the following reception.

Dickinson Graduate Geo Nikolov ‘14, now a Masters student in Málaga, Spain, with an audience question

President Roseman with current Dickinson-in-Bremen students Ezra, Katie, Cassie, George, Adrienne, Madison, Santiago (from top left to down right) as well as Academic Director Ludwig and Program Coordinator Mertz (far right, 3rd and 2nd row). © Harald Rehling, Uni Bremen

President Roseman with current Dickinson in Bremen students Ezra, Katie, Cassie, George, Adrienne, Madison, Santiago (fr. top left to down right) as well as Director Ludwig and Coordinator Mertz (far right, 3rd + 2nd row). © Harald Rehling

The Dickinson Lecture is regularly organized by Dr. Janine Ludwig, Academic Director of the Durden Dickinson in Bremen Program, and Neil van Siclen, President of the Carl Schurz German-American Club Bremen (CSDAC).

DH 056-9743

Former Rector Müller and Pres. Roseman

Fr. left to right: Dr. Janine Ludwig, VP Joyce Bylander, President Nancy Roseman

Fr. left to right: Dr. Janine Ludwig, VP Joyce Bylander, President Nancy Roseman © H. Rehling

Alumni Meeting With Unveiling of “Dickinson Chairs,” June 4th, 2015

Alumni meeting in Bremen. © Harald Rehling, Uni Bremen

Alumni meeting in Bremen. © Harald Rehling, Uni Bremen

Aside from current and former professors and staff who are or were involved in the program, more than 30 former students came from all over Germany and even from other European countries to the alumni meeting on Thursday afternoon. The altogether 60 attendees watched a delightful and funny picture presentation given by Matthias Ziegfeld, the very first Bremen student who studied at Dickinson College in 1984-85.

Vice Rector Karakaşoğlu, President Roseman, Mr. Sodemann from Community e.V., and former Rector Müller (from left to right), unveiling the first “Dickinson Chairs.” © Harald Rehling, Uni Bremen

Vice Rector Karakaşoğlu, President Roseman, Mr. Sodemann from Community e.V., and former Rector Müller (from left to right), unveiling the first “Dickinson Chairs.” © Harald Rehling, Uni Bremen

Later, in the most beautiful sunny weather and over the traditional German “coffee and cake,” they rejoiced in memories of their time at Dickinson and the Uni Bremen. It was amazing to hear from many how the abroad experience has stimulated and influenced their lives. Eventually, the champagne bottles demanded to be opened for the ceremonious unveiling of the first three “Dickinson Chairs.” This Uni Bremen fundraising initiative honors the 30 years of cooperation by setting up Dickinson-like Adirondack Chairs on their campus which are donated by various sponsors. 10 such sponsors – including Pres. Roseman for Dickinson College and former Pres. Durden as well as former Uni Bremen Rector Wilfried Müller – had already pledged a donation before the campaign was even officially launched.

Festive Dinner, June 4th

Front, right: Erika Harjes-Badawi, former head of the International Office at Uni Bremen, behind her: professors Hartmut Koehler and Lothar Probst, across from them: Neil van Siclen and Dickinson students. © Verena Mertz

Front, right: Erika Harjes-Badawi, former head of the IO at Uni Bremen, behind her: professors Hartmut Koehler, Lothar Probst, left: Neil van Siclen, Dickinson students. © Verena Mertz

The day was concluded by a celebratory dinner in the restaurant “Meierei” to which Dickinson College invited so many of the colleagues and friends who have made vital contributions to the program over the last decades.

Other events included a tour through Bremen’s historical center and UNESCO world heritage site, a dinner in the medieval quarter “Schnoor,” a visit to the University of Bremen’s Drop Tower (the laboratory of ZARM and the only laboratory of this kind in Europe). In addition, in many work meetings members of both institutions forged plans for future projects to further intensify this great cooperation.

Transatlantic Conference in Berlin

The Enigma of Freedom – A Transatlantic Conference on the Significance of Heiner Müller for the 21st Century on the Day of German Unity, October 3-5, 2014

Adrienne, Prof. Ludwig, Ezra, Rachel (front f. l. t. r.), Santiago, George, Cassie, Katie (back row)

front row: Adrienne, J. Ludwig, Ezra, Rachel (from left to right), back row:  Santiago, George, Cassie, Katie ©: Uwe Fechner

The Dickinson students currently on their year abroad at the University of Bremen had a unique opportunity to experience German culture and recent history from an exceptional angle. On a five-day excursion to Berlin, they not only explored historical and cultural sites such as the Brandenburg Gate or the Reichstag, but also attended a conference on one of the most influential cultural figures of 20th century Germany: the playwright Heiner Müller. The conference was co-organized by the Academic Director of the Durden Bremen Program, Janine Ludwig, together with Anja Quickert and Florian Becker on behalf of the International Heiner Müller Society.

At the conference, the students had the opportunity to hear and meet many important German (and American) intellectuals – among them:

Plakat_webGregor Gysi (parliamentary party leader of “The Left”), Jens Reich (molecular biologist, GDR civil rights activist and former candidate for the German Presidency), Thomas Martin (chief dramaturg of Berlin’s celebrated avant-garde theater “Volksbühne”), Wolfgang Engler (rector of Germany’s most prominent acting school „Ernst Busch“), Hermann Beyer (long-time actor at the legendary Brecht theater “Berliner Ensemble”), Ivica Buljan (head of the Zagreb International Theatre Festival), David Levine (US-American performance artist, Bard College Berlin), Jost Hermand (renowned literary scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison), B.K. Tragelehn (director and long-time friend of Müller’s) – and many more.

Find the program flyer attached: IHMG HM-Konferenz Programm-Leporello

Here is what the students said:

I had two favorite parts of the Müller conference. The first was the “Table Talks” during the second afternoon of the conference where the conference goers had the chance to sit and speak with people who were close with Müller both on and off the stage. These “Table Talks” broke the invisible wall between the audience and the presenters and allowed for more questions to be asked and discussions to be had. My other favorite part of the conference was one of the last panels where theater directors from different Eastern European countries compared and contrasted the reception and implementation of Müller’s works in two very different social environments.
— A particular memorable moment for me was when a pair of presenters began to discuss the DEFA and its role in film production in East Germany. This caused me to reflect back on my previous research on the DEFA and actually helped me formulate an idea for my senior thesis in German for next year! Another just generally cool moment was when the group was approached during one of the breaks by a woman who is staging a production of one of Müller’s plays not far from Bremen and invited us as a group to come watch the show and meet the actors. >Rachel Schilling ’16<

Heiner Müller ©: Lothar Deus and Literaturforum im Brecht-Haus Berlin

Before attending this conference I didn’t know who Heiner Müller was. Now I have a more complete understanding of why he is considered the most important German playwright of the second half of the 20th century. During the conference I was able to speak with one of the last living students of Bertolt Brecht and hear personal stories about Müller and Brecht himself. The event was very well organized and I am thankful that I was able to attend not only this conference but explore the city of Berlin itself. >George DeRosa ‘16<

My favorite part of the conference was a panel which included a philosopher, a cultural journalist, and a dramatic advisor, each of whom had a personal connection with the playwright. I saw right from the beginning the wide variety of people Heiner Müller’s work had influenced. It interested me that the work of a single man could carry so much meaning for three people of such differing professions.
— One of the activities at the conference were Tischgespräche or “Table-Talks,” where audience members could sit on comfortable couches around people who had known Heiner Müller personally and hear stories from time they had shared together. The table I went to included Alexander Weigel, a dramaturg who worked with Müller on two of his plays, “Der Lohndrücker” and “Hamlet/Maschine.” I was especially struck by the stories where Weigel explained the tensions in Hamlet/Maschine between trying to create a political commentary in the play and trying to keep the themes in Hamlet alive. Weigel remembered that Müller said to him: “Shakespeare ist wichtiger als die DDR” or “Shakespeare is more important than the German Democratic Republic.”
— One thing I focused on was expanding my German vocabulary and knowledge of German word-genders, a topic which has always plagued my ability to speak German fluently and confidently. Although my focus and interest in learning German places less emphasis on literature and drama, at the conference I was still able to listen for much information of personal interest. For example, because of the wide variety of the fields of presenters, I learned many German words and expressions which I had not heard before. I also listened for different German dialects (another area of personal interest) among the presenters, as some spoke with a “Berliner” accent. >Ezra Sassaman ’16<

I’m not sure that I have ever heard of Müller before this conference, which is frankly quite embarrassing because he is apparently labeled the second most important German dramatist of the 20th century after Bertolt Brecht. I have a relatively limited knowledge of German history, but this conference helped me to understand what it was like to be an artist working in the GDR. For instance many of Müller’s plays were not allowed to premier or were censored after only one screening. Nonetheless he continued to gain popularity in the West and internationally. Many of his plays were staged in Western Germany, and even his controversial “Mauser” was shown for the first time in Austin, Texas. By the 1980s, the GDR welcomed Müller again because of his international fame.

"Bla bla" Panel: Ivica Buljan, Thomas Irmer, Wojtek Klemm (f. l. t. r.)

“BLABLA” Panel: Ivica Buljan, Thomas Irmer, Wojtek Klemm (fr. l. t. r.) © all following pictures: Uwe Fechner

My favorite part of the conference was the “BLABLA” section on Sunday because I finally got to see some of Müller’s work on stage. I did not realize how provocative his postmodernist style was until I had seen it. I was honestly surprised the GDR ever decided to support him, regardless of his fame.
— The table talks were a very interesting and unusual addition to the conference. It allowed me to sit and talk with a close friend of Müller’s, B.K. Tragelehn and his wife, and hear about Müller in his youth. He shared many intriguing stories from their youth and told us about Müller’s personal life from an insider’s view.
— Although it was hard to follow the panel “Was jetzt passiert, ist die totale Besetzung mit Gegenwart,” I found this one quote extremely interesting. I’m not sure if it came from Müller, or one of the presenters, but nonetheless it got me thinking. “Socialism leads to individualism, capitalism leads to collectivism.” I really enjoyed being exposed to so many German and international intellectuals and expanding my German and cultural knowledge. It was also very helpful to hear high level academic German before beginning our schooling at the University.  >Katie Mooradian ’16<

The conference consisted of very complex and very dense information given all in German all at once. That being said I look at it similar to sports. You don’t get better playing teams on your level, only by playing teams that are better than you, and even though you are getting beat you are learning and increasing your knowledge for the future. Same goes for this conference, the language used and topic were more complex and difficult than the level I was at, but in the end I do feel like I got something out of being there and focusing on trying to understand what the speakers were saying. My favorite part was the table talk where you could go and speak to some of the speakers and other people connected to Heiner Müller. I listened to B.K. Tragelehn and his wife speak and the stories they told were so interesting, and it gave a more personal outlook into Heiner Mueller’s life. I think that was easier for me to understand because it was a more focused group of people with him just talking to 5 or 6 of us. I really did enjoy the table talk immensely. >Cassie Blyler ‘16<

Academy of the Arts East Pariser Platz before the last panel on Sunday

Academy of the Arts East, Pariser Platz, before the last panel on Sunday.

One of the conference panels which I enjoyed the most was the “Tischgespräche mit Zeitgenossen,” which was held on the second day of the conference. This panel had a very flexible and informal approach. The speakers scattered over small coffee tables so all of us could engage them on a more personal level. I joined a conversation with B. K. Tragelehn, a director, author, translator and former student of Bertolt Brecht and friend of Heiner Müller. During the panel, Mr. Tragelehn shared many of his amazingly rich experiences as a student, coworker and independent author as well as some personal insights about Bertolt Brecht, Heiner Müller and his wife Inge Müller. Although my fields of study are unrelated to either theater or literature, getting such a rare opportunity to meet one of the last people who studied and worked with such important characters of history and culture was indeed an amazing experience.

Gregor Gysi, Jens Reich, Jost Hermand (fr. l. t. r.)

Gregor Gysi, Jens Reich, Jost Hermand (fr. l. t. r.)

I must say that I was surprised by the wide variety and high caliber of the conference’s guests, which included artists, representatives from literature institutes, widely renowned politicians, academics from all over the world and authors who had the privilege of working side by side with the most important theater personalities of the 20th century and who underwent the whole social and institutional revolution that came with the Fall of the Wall. Unfortunately, I did not get to talk to all of them, but I did get to hear what some of the greatest minds on the theater and literature scene think. The conference also bore unexpected fruits as we got to meet a woman who happened to be involved in the management of a theater in Osnabrück and that offered us (all the members of the Bremen program) to attend one the Heiner Müller’s plays that were being performed there.
— Academically, the conference was a challenging experience. To begin with, most of the panels were in German, so they required lots of concentration and some effort in order to keep up and decipher some of the most complex opinions. Historically and culturally speaking, the conference covered a wide variety of topics. The whole scene of German theater and literature was affected by the geopolitical and socioeconomic changes that happened in Germany throughout and after the Cold War and the Fall of the Wall. Therefore, there was always a very complex background to keep in mind in order to fully understand some of the discussions regarding the importance and the repercussions of Heiner Müller’s work in Germany and nearby countries. I personally felt that every minute of the conference was loaded with information and that it required a lot of thinking to keep up. >Santiago Princ ‘16<

The conference which was supported by Dickinson and Bard College gave me an interesting look into what culture was inside the DDR and in other communist ruled areas of Eastern Europe. Due to the fact that the academic style of German went a little over my head, I gained the most insight from the last session we attended which was held in English. It was comparing the cultural reception of Heiner Müller’s works in Poland and former Yugoslavia. Having gone to another conference this summer about German authors in Poland at the time of its separation from Germany, I enjoyed the extra insights to Polish history and culture. >Adrienne Brown ’16<


Students are jokingly re-enacting a scene which they just saw in a documentary film about Heiner Müller, made by Thomas Heise. In it, Müller and the famous director Fritz Marquardt were telling actors several times precisely and meticulously how to pronounce a single word (king) in a sentence from Müller’s play “Germania Death in Berlin”: „Will er nicht aufstehen vor seinem König?” (Does he not want to stand up before his King?). In the front, from left to right: Janine Ludwig, Adrienne Brown, Rachel Schilling. From left to right in the back row: Santiago Princ, George DeRosa, Ezra Sassaman, Cassandra Blyler, Katherine Mooradian

Plenary room at the Academy of the Arts East Pariser Platz with mirroring Brandenburg Gate



What colleagues say:

Heiner Müller is perhaps the most significant cultural figure of the GDR. Around him and his work as a playwright and author all of the figures and themes of the cultural landscape of the GDR coalesce. His work and reception bridged East and West and is international in scope. Thus, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Wall (Nov. 9) with a transatlantic conference is both fitting and appropriate. Janine is a leading scholar on Müller and she and her colleagues assembled prominent figures from politics (such as Gregor Gysi) to scholarship (e.g. Jost Hermand). These are big names in Germany and in German literary and cultural studies. How often can students see how culture and politics interact and, at the same time speak with highly influential figures of both to discuss that interaction? This was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to do so and to learn more about one of the major aspects of the late 20th century — the divided Germany.
>Prof. Sarah McGaughey, Chair of the German Department at Dickinson College<

Statement by co-organizer Ludwig:

I wanted to give our students a chance to get a glimpse of the density and variability of German culture and theater and to listen to prominent figures from this sphere. I was hoping to alert their sensitivity to the vibrant dialog between those figures from such different fields and backgrounds who all are attracted in their own way to the questions raised by this singular artist. Many samples of video material showed them original recordings of Müller himself (25 years ago) as well as of some of his friends and collaborators (who were partly present) or of current productions of his plays.
Look from the Academy of the Arts at the Brandenburg Gate with projected title from the last panel on SundayI think the students appreciated the historically rich venues like the Academy of the Arts in East and West Berlin, on both sides of the once-divided city which is not just theIMG_7697-1 political capital of Germany, but the cultural capital as well. By embedding the conference into a Berlin excursion, I was hoping to enable them to connect their adventures in the historic city and in its current cultural scene with the contents of this conference.
— Müller famously said about the theatergoers that he wanted to “burden the people with so much that they don’t know what to carry first” – he believed that this concept of “flooding” or overwhelming the audience with images and thoughts would cause productive reactions, be it those of resistance, curiosity, perplexity, or pressure to make decisions about what to focus on. While I am aware that a program as dense and intellectual as presented at this conference was a stretch for our students who had just arrived in Germany, I hope they were affected by it in that sense.
>Dr. Janine Ludwig, Academic Director of the William G. and Elke Durden Dickinson in Bremen Program<

Sampling a World Heritage with the SIRF grant

by Geo Nikolov, Class of 2014

I am a major of Earth Sciences with a Major Concentration on Geoscience and have just completed a full year of study at the University of Bremen. This summer, I was able to participate in a research project funded by Dickinson’s SIRF grant. Here, I will give a brief description of this project:


Marine Geochemical research is conducted by several prestigious institutes in Bremen and Bremerhaven, including The Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, MARUM (Center for Marine Environmental Sciences), and the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar- and Ocean Research.  The research group “The Ocean in the Earth System” at the MARUM institute at the  University of Bremen has been officially recognized as a “Cluster of Excellence” by the German Research Foundation and German Council of Science and Humanities.

This semester, I sought out a collaborative research opportunity with a marine geochemist to gain experience in sampling methods, data collection and data analysis within the framework of an environmentally relevant project that would provide the basis for a senior thesis in my major of Geoscience.

Professor Michael Schlüter, geochemist at the Alfred-Wegener-Institute for Polar- and Ocean Research, Bremerhaven, and teacher of the course “Geochemical cycles and processes,” offered me the chance to assist in a research project quantifying flow rates of Submarine Groundwater Discharge (SGD) and sampling pore water in the Sahlenburg intertidal mudflats near Cuxhaven, Germany. The sampling, data collection and transport modelling conducted in association with this project provided the basis for further analytical work to be completed for my senior thesis in 2013/2014. In addition, Marine Geochemistry is a field in which I am strongly considering pursuing a graduate degree.

Specific Tasks and Responsibilities

My responsibilities at the research site covered pore water sampling, data analysis, and transport modelling. Pore water sampling was conducted with rhizones and suction cups at the field site Sahlenburger Watt in the Lower Saxon Wadden Sea National Park, Germany. In the field, I also assisted with the determination of pressure surfaces and in-situ measurements of submarine groundwater discharge. Laboratory work centered on chemical analysis, specifically, the determination of nutrient pore water profiles. Chloride concentration data was used to model flow rates of submarine groundwater.

Connection to Dickinson Classes and Experiences

The Dickinson course “Chemistry of Earth Systems” introduced me to the foundations of marine sediment pore water chemistry, including an overview of transport processes and depth profiles of nutrients. At the University of Bremen, I have deepened my knowledge in the areas of pore water composition and early diagenesis through the geochemistry course “Element Cycles and Processes,” which included an overview of redox reactions, reaction kinetics and the use of tracers.

Environmental Relevance

The working area, the Sahlenburg intertidal mudflats, lies in the Lower Saxon Wadden Sea National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2009. This nature reserve, covering an area of approximately 1.300 sq. mi, is home to over 4,000 plant and animal species. It is also a resting place for 10-12 million birds arriving every winter from Northern countries to prepare for breeding. Thus, the ecosystem’s productivity is essential to global biodiversity. The ecosystem is highly sensitive to fluxes of nutrients such as nitrate and phosphate, which are heavily supplied by fertilizer runoff. The OSPAR Commission for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic identified the German Bight and Wadden Sea as “Eutrophication Problem Areas” in 1994.

Submarine Groundwater Discharge can contribute a major fraction of nutrients to the water column; in some areas, as much as 70 percent of the total nitrate. This project, conducted over several weeks, with similar measurements to be repeated in the future, constitutes basic research that will better monitor nutrient fluxes stemming from an essential individual component of this fragile ecosystem’s water budget.

International Relevance

Submarine Groundwater Discharge is a topic in Marine Geochemistry that is of global geochemical relevance. SGD has only been quantified for small portions of the world’s coastlines, most investigations having taken place on the East coast of the United States, in the Mediterranean, in the Baltic Sea, in the North Sea, and on the coasts of Japan. Estimates of SGD as a component of the global water cycle are thus still somewhat unreliable.

This research experience represented the opportunity to learn directly from an expert, with whom I could communicate in German. International scientific cooperation will be necessary to more fully understand the global impact of this essential component of the hydrological cycle.


Academic Differences Between Dickinson and Uni Bremen.

While studying abroad at a different university, definite differences are apparent. Before coming to Uni Bremen, I expected classes to be fairly similar to Dickinson but just larger. I soon came to realize that this was not the only difference. First, let me list all of the academic differences I have noticed between Uni Bremen and Dickinson and then I will explain each one:
1. The class size
2. The students ages
3. The “homework” and graded “assignments”
4. Semester time-frame
5. Grading system
6. The professors
The class size, at Dickinson, will not exceed 60 students and it is not uncommon for a class to have only 5 students. At Uni Bremen; however, the class size is much larger on average. To have a class with less than 20 students is not as common as having a class with 100+ students. My largest class had about 150 students. And on that note, this class of 150 or so students were composed of 4 students in their 20s and the rest of the students were over 70 years of age. To have older adults as students is not uncommon. Thirdly, the assignments for classes at Uni Bremen have a different expectation than those given at Dickinson. At Uni Bremen, the assignments given throughout the semester are typically readings listed on the syllabus. These readings will either be posted online or the student must go to a local bookstore. These readings are not mandatory, but an aid. If the class consists of discussion then reading the listed assignment(s) is recommended but again not mandatory like Dickinson. The actual graded assignments do not come until the end of the semester as one large grade. This one grade is what the student will receive for the class. This grade can either be a test, a project, an oral presentation, or a 10-15 page paper depending on the professor. As for the actual grades, they are not based off of a “A, B, C, D, F” system, but rather a point system. This point system is 1-5 in which a 1 is a perfect grade and a 5 is failing. The professors will be understanding to those who are international students, but it is very rare for professors at a German university, such as Uni Bremen, to know the names of the students. This is mainly due to the fact that most classes have over 50 students, but also because the student-professor relationship does not work at Uni Bremen like it does at Dickinson. Another academic difference between Dickinson and Uni Bremen is attendance. Unless professors at Uni Bremen take attendance and make it an important issue to not miss classes, attendance is not taken as seriously as it is at Dickinson. Nevertheless, going to class is important! …but taken lightly by the majority of students. For one of my classes – that had no attendance requirement – there was a student who came to the last day to take the final exam… This student did not come to a single day of class throughout the semester. And lastly, as for the semester, the first semester (winter semester) begins late October/early November and ends in February as opposed to late August to December.
To those of you who find the differences to be intimidating, please do not be alarmed! These differences are very easy to adjust to ;-).

Learn German with “German for Beginners”

Former Dickinson German professor Sandra Alfers developed a great app called “German for Beginners”!

Whether you start learning German or simply want to review certain grammatical units, the app’s modular structure supported by pictures and narrated by Sandra herself allows both. You will also find multiple choice tests at the end of each unit. The app will cover pronunciation, the alphabet, numbers, verb conjugations, cases, prepositions, basic vocabulary – plus: cultural information about Germany.

For more information about the program and about the developer Sandra Alfers, Ph.D., please go to:


Make sure you also visit (and like) the app’s fanpage under: