Vienna Excursion

In February/March, 2019, we went to Vienna again for a one-week trip. Please read about a few of the highlights:

The Schönbrunn Palace would be the most impressive part of the Vienna excursion. As an image of the Habsburg rule, the palace manifests its presence in its sheer size and beauty. Schönbrunn not only introduces visitors into the lifestyles of the old monarchs with fascinating details, but it also lectures them on aesthetics and culture. Indeed, the palace itself is such an visual reward that impressed me with murals and rococo designs. To a certain extent, they divert your attention from learning the influences of Maria Theresia and the other Habsburgs. Schönbrunn is an unquestionable landmark of Vienna that demonstrates a glorious and glamorous part of Austrian history. I would suggest that the palace serves the sole purpose of impressing and exciting visitors, to bedazzle them. It somewhat creates a seemingly beautiful mirage of the royal life that is too good to be true. >Jack Xia ’20<

Wiener Burgtehater: Settling into my seat in the 4th row of the gallery, the packed theater is buzzing with chatter. Out of the corner of my eye, I see the other half of our Dickinson group a few rows away and we wave excitedly at each other. The lights dim, and the chatter dies down to a murmur, then silence. The play starts. The story revolves around a famous actor, Hendrik Höfgen, who flees to Paris when the Nazi party rises to power. He is persuaded to return to Germany to continue his acting career. Eventually, he is casted as a main character (Mephisto) in the famous play Faust but struggles with accepting a career that’s backed by a Nazi general. Or at least that’s what I understood. In all honesty, I didn’t quite understand 100% of the play, but it was so much fun to watch. Maybe it was because it was my first play, but I thought the staging and effects were so cool and creative. There were huge panels that were moved around, the whole stage revolved, a singing lady descended from the ceiling on a silver hula hoop, latex skin was peeled off, and there was a giant treadmill involved. During intermission we would burst into “What just happened?” and “Wait, but I thought…” We even talked to some Viennese students that were sitting near us, who were happy to take part in our efforts to understand the play. All in all, we didn’t understand everything, but we enjoyed the play very much and we left happy, having experienced some true Viennese Hochkultur. >Karen Hoang ’20<

The crown of the Holy Roman Empire

On the 28th of February, we had the opportunity to go to the Schatzkammer in Vienna. This Treasury was historically a vault in which the von Habsburg family stored valuable objects like jewels, crowns, and clothing, but also important documents like treaties. The Habsburgs exercised control over large swathes of land throughout the medieval and modern periods, at times controlling Hungary, Czechia, Spain, and modern-day Benelux States and Netherlands. As such, the Schatzkammer was full of artifacts of great historical significance. For example, the crown of the Holy Roman Empire, which the Habsburg line held for almost 500 years, was on display towards the end of our tour. Another interesting sight was a “unicorn horn,” in fact the horn of a narwhal, which purportedly had the ability to act as a universal antidote to poison. Aside from that there were many intricate works of weaving and metal working, including the robes worn by the Kaiser of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Holy Roman Emperor, and the King of Hungary. One thing that I also found particularly fascinating was the large collection of religious relics in the Schatzkammer, owing the powerful bond between the Habsburg line and the Catholic church. Among these is a piece of wood with a nail hole that supposedly comes from the cross upon which Jesus was crucified, a tooth from both John the Baptist and St. Peter, and a piece of the tablecloth from the Last Supper. For people interested in history or in religion, the Schatzkammer is a place one should not miss. >Corson Ellis ’20<

Garbage incinerator, beautified by Hundertwasser

The Dickinson trip to Vienna, Austria, was amazing. Vienna is so beautiful and filled with History; there wasn’t a day that I didn’t learn or experience something new. One of my favorite activities our group did during this excursion was the Hundertwasser tour and museum. Vienna is filled with art and cultural museums, but Hundertwasser was something I hadn’t seen before. This art installation from Friedensreich Hundertwasser is filled with his paintings, sculpture, and unique artistic style. One of Hundertwasser’s trademarks was not using any straight lines. This was incorporated in all of his work, but it was also incorporated into the Hundertwasserhaus itself, which I found interesting. My favorite part of the architecture was the floors because unlike most art museums, these floors are slanted and uneven, which adds so much to the experience. Not only is the artwork itself brightly colored and whimsical, but the entire atmosphere of the building is eccentric and welcoming. The walking tour was also exciting because we got to see other architecture designed by Hundertwasser and learned about his history and the history behind Hundertwasserhaus. >Megan Kropf ’20<

During the Vienna excursion, we took a one-hour train ride to Bratislava.  We went to this café called UFO because it is shaped like a UFO and it is one of the highest points in the city.  The café is high enough for you to see Austria and Hungary in the distance while on the other side, you can witness the whole landscape of the city.  We took a tour around Bratislava since it is not that big of a city.  On the way through the city, the tour guide shared interesting facts of the Bratislava and Slovakia such as around 50% of the nation’s economy depends on the car industry, and despite Slovakia being a relatively poor country, it is quite expensive to own a home in Bratislava.  We saw the main sites of Bratislava such as the Bratislavaer Burg (Bratislava Castle), Cathedral St. Martin, the Old Town Hall, the parliament’s palace, Michaelertor, and the Blue Church.  The tour guide connected the Bratislavaer Burg back to the history of the Hapsburgs, and why it was built and symbolized.  After the approximately three-hour tour, we had the whole day to make our own memories and be independent throughout the Slavic city. >Sandi Kadric ’20<

In sum: In Vienna, we learned a lot about the history of Austria and by extension Germany. I never knew much about the history of Austria, so I found the tours and museums very interesting. My favorite part of the trip was learning about the Hapsburg dynasty, and visiting the castles which they lived in. I also enjoyed visiting Vienna’s many churches. One of my other favorite parts of the trip was the day in Bratislava. I knew basically nothing about Bratislava and Slovakia, and I enjoyed learning about the city and its history. >James Moore ’20<

Berlin Excursion January 2019

Stasi

by Sandi Kadric ‘20

We visited the Stasi Museum and prison. We learned about the operations of Stasi, and how involved they were in East and somewhat West Germany. In the museum, we saw how many files they had for each individual, e.g. what they bought, where they lived, where they worked, what facial features they had, etc. We looked at the technology they used to spy on others and how outdated it seems today. Our tour guide also explained how Stasi members were trained, and how they would spy on people such as going into their apartments when the family was away. The tour guide did a great job of explaining how big of an influence the Stasi was, and how much bigger they were than other organizations such as the Gestapo. We also visited a Stasi prison and the tour guide was falsely imprisoned. He showed us all the prison rooms and he shared his experiences. He explained the circumstances and situations in the prison really well, such as sanitary conditions, the mental, physical, and emotional abuse.  The tour guide shared his own experience of how he was captured, and how it was a struggle to have a normal life after being in prison for so long when he was finally released.

 

B.K. and Christa Tragelehn

by Liz Bodenman ‘20

After a few days in Berlin learning about the living conditions in East Germany, on Saturday, January 13th, we had the pleasure of meeting a man and his wife who had, as I like to put it, lived the full East German experience. They had lived not only through the everyday difficulties in the GDR, but through the specialized difficulties of being at the center of a theater scandal. Theater Director, author, and translator B.K. Tragelehn, an older, kind-eyed gentleman who enjoys stroking his cat and smoking cigars, welcomed us into his warm and cozy apartment for a chat and “Kaffee und Kuchen.” As we entered, his wife began serving us immediately, being the perfect hostess, and letting us gawk at the 18,000 books that covered their walls.

Christa & B.K. Tragelehn (middle) with group (Mary, Dr. Ludwig, Liz, Sandi, Dr. Falk Strehlow)

Gently puffing away at his cigar, Herr Tragelehn recounted the pinnacles of his life. Being a child in Dresden whose family was subjected to the WWII bombings (firestorm). Befriending and working alongside famous playwrights Bertolt Brecht, Erich Engel, and Heiner Müller. Meeting his wife for the first time (who he has been with for over fifty-five years). And perhaps most fascinating, being sentenced to work in the coal mines after directing the

B.K. Tragelehn with Liz

GDR-critical play Die Umsiedlerin in 1961. His wife chipped into the story too, explaining how difficult it was to live on little money, trying to make ends meet while her husband toiled in the mines.

Visiting the Tragelehns was my favorite part of Dickinson in Bremen’s Berlin excursion. It was truly awesome to meet such kind Berliners who were willing to give us a glimpse into the East German world. It was a very valuable, memorable experience.

 

Mary, Dr. Ludwig, Liz, Sandi (from left) at the German Historical Museum

 

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.

Berlin Excursion

DDR Museum

Our Berlin excursion began with a look into the past by visiting the DDR museum and meeting a well-known figure from that time. First, we enjoyed the immersive experience the museum offered about life in the German Democratic Republic – East Germany. Afterwards, we had the chance to receive first-hand insights from Dr. Hans Modrow, the last chairman of the DDR Council of

Meeting with Hans Modrow (middle)

Ministers. We also visited the infamous Stasi prison “Hohenschönhausen” and the Stasi archives in the former central building of this seceret service – where the office of its last chief, Erich Mielke, is still intact. A tour through the underground Cold War bunkers rounded up this trip into the times of the once divided city.

 

In the Reichstag (parliament)

Later in the week, we turned to current political times by visiting both the Chancellery and the “Reichstag” with a guided tour. We were allowed entry to the state department (Auswärtiges Amt) where we met the referent of the governmental Coordinator for Transatlantic Cooperation who not only answered our questions on the current state of German-American relations, but even showed us around the house and took us to the roof to enjoy a wonderful view.

Besides, we seized the opportunity to entertain ourselves with the extensive activities and sights Berlin has to offer, e.g. East Side Gallery, Museum Island, Deutsches Historisches Museum, christmas market, and, of course, the Brandenburg Gate.

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

Vienna Excursion 2017

My tips, tricks, and favorite things in Vienna, Austria

Meghan Straub

All pictures: Meghan Straub

Vienna has quickly become one of my favorite places in the world. I had the wonderful opportunity of living in Vienna for a month while completing my intensive course before coming to Bremen. It was an amazing month filled with travel, history, music, and ice cream. I had such a great time that it was hard for me to pack up my things and leave to start the program in Bremen. Little did I know it then but I would return to my European home of Vienna 2 more times this year (once with my parents and once with the program). As part of the Dickinson in Bremen program we have the opportunity to go on a weeklong excursion to Vienna. We spend the week learning about the history of the city as well as experiencing all of the many facets of culture Vienna has to offer. In this blog I’d like to share some of my favorite moments from the excursion as well as some of my tips as someone who knows Vienna well. But as Julie Andrews says lets start at the very beginning…

  1. Stephan’s Cathedral

Located at the very center of the city, St. Stephan’s is the most important building in the whole city. It is an easy navigation point, many of the city’s sites are within a 10-minute walk from its front door, and it is one of the most beautiful churches I’ve ever seen. We got an “All Inclusive” ticket which let us do the audio guided tour of the inside of the cathedral, a tour of the catacombs, an elevator ride to the north tower, and the climb up to the south tower. When I was living in Vienna, I never had the chance to do all of these so I was excited and St. Stephan’s didn’t disappoint. I learned so much about the church from the audio guide and the views from the towers just can’t be beat.

  1. The Austrian National Library

Just down the Graben (the pedestrian area at the center of the city) and around the bend is the Hofburg Palace of the Habsburg dynasty and within this gorgeous palace is the National Library. I’d been to the library before, but this time, we had the extremely fortunate opportunity of getting a special tour. We learned all about the care of the books and the history of the building. The best part for me was getting able to see some selected books like a Gutenberg Bible up close and even touch it. My nerdy book-loving soul was close to exploding. The trip to the library was an absolute highlight of our trip for me.

 

  1. Peter’s Church

My favorite place in all of Vienna is St. Peter’s church. Located right off the Graben, St. Peter’s is often overlooked. This church is beautifully decorated and offers free concerts almost every night around 7:30pm. They put out a schedule of the weeks events including concerts by violinists, singers, and most importantly (in my opinion) organists. My favorite thing to do in Vienna is to take a late night walk from the Rathaus through the Volksgarten and the Hofburg all the way to my final stop at St. Peter’s church just in time for the concert. There is something magical about sitting in the candle-lit church as a talented musician plays Bach’s Toccata and Fugue on the organ while the whole building shakes from the sound. I highly recommend stopping by if you get the chance. The price (just a tip for the musicians) can’t be beat.

  1. The Vienna State Opera

The city of Vienna is filled with music everywhere you go and the very center of that music is at the state opera house. Located between the Graben and the Ringstraße, the Vienna State Opera is housing performances every night including ballets and of course Operas. As a famous attraction in Vienna, the ticket for the Opera can be quite expensive and often go fast. If you really want to see a performance there you have two options. The first is acquiring a standing room ticket. If you wait outside the building in a line about 80 minutes (or more depending on what show is being performed) before the show you can get a ticket for around 3 euros. Though time consuming and often grueling on hot days, a ticket for that price is hard to pass up. Another option is the large screen outside of the opera house on Kartnerstraße. A couple nights a week the opera displays the performance of the night outside free to the public on a large screen. People bring chairs and blankets to sit outside and enjoy the good weather and beautiful voices for free. If you, like me, aren’t that interested in hearing the voices of the world’s best singers and are more interested in seeing what the inside of the opera house looks like tours are also provided during the day. For about 4 euros (with a student discount) you can go on a tour of the interior of the building and learn all about how the shows are organized and the long history and tradition of opera in Vienna. I highly recommend.

  1. The Prater

Right outside of the inner city of Vienna is the Prater. Founded in 1766, the Prater is essentially an amusement park. The park is open from 10am until 1am and housing tons of restaurants as well as rides. The most famous of which is the Wiener Riesenrad or Ferris wheel. The wheel is 212 feet tall and is famous for its appearance in the movie The Third Man. My favorite ride is not the famous Ferris wheel but rather the tower swings. The Prater Tower is 117m high and offers a breathtaking view of the whole city. If you are afraid of heights it will likely be too much for you but otherwise it is a great way to see the whole city for only 5 euros.

I hope that these tips/suggestions help you to get the most out of your visit to Vienna if you get the opportunity to go. If you do, I hope you enjoy it as much as I have this past year. Ciao!

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.

IMG_0324

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.

IMG_0356

Caroline and Meghan

Kayla

Kayla

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…

 

IMG_0398

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

Caroline and Lee emigrating

Caroline and Lee emigrating

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_0392

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 ancestry.com 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:

IMG_0324-ANIMATION

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<

Gdansk

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.