At some point, the pandemic will be over, and we will be able to travel again. When that will be possible, we are looking forward to offering rich academic excursions for our students again, one of them our annual excursion to Berlin. Please see here what students can expect to see and learn in Germany’s capital:
Our Berlin excursion is usually centered around the once divided Germany, German and GDR history, culture, literature, and the process of reunification. We meet with politicians such as the last Premier, t.i. Chairman of the Council of Ministers, of the German Democratic Republic (DDR), Hans Modrow, and others. We visit the former headquarters of the Ministry of State Security (MfS, often called Stasi), including Erich Mielke’s office which is still intact. In the archives and basement, we look through authentic Stasi files and visit the former Stasi prison Hohenschönhausen. Of course, we also delve into current German politics, meeting the assistant of the governmental Coordinator for Transatlantic Relations in the State Department and attending parliamentary sessions.
Right now, things are looking much brighter with regard to the pandemic, and we are hopeful that we will be able to travel again at some point. We are looking forward to offering rich academic excursions for our students again, one of them to Vienna. The broader theme of this annual trip is German-Austrian history and culture from the Middle Ages until today.
In introductory lectures, we follow the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, from Charles the Great (800) to the Napoleonic conquests (1806). We track the Habsburg dynasty (1273-1918) and the Austro-Hungarian k.u.k Monarchy, later: Austrian Empire (1804-1918), overlapping with the German Empire (1871-1918). With this information, the students can better understand our tours and exhibits and grasp the importance of Vienna as a former political and cultural center of Europe. Additionally, we indulge in the imperial glamour and culinary abundance of this beautiful city.
In recent years, we have visited Mozart’s house, the Sigmund Freud Museum, castles, and the United Nations Office Vienna. We saw productions in the world-famous Viennese Burgtheater, the Volkstheater or the opera and indulged in traditional delicacies as well as in the famous coffee house culture.
“In Vienna, we learned a lot about the history of Austria and by extension Germany. My favorite part of the trip was learning about the Hapsburg dynasty, and visiting the castle in which they lived. 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<
“What attracted me the most about Vienna was the vibe of the city. As a cultural center in Europe, Vienna has retained its historical memory and blended it with the bustle of modern society.” >Zhen Luo ‘18<
“Vienna has quickly become one of my favorite places in the world […] and within this gorgeous palace is the National Library. […] The best part of the tour for me was being 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.” >Meghan Straub ‘18<
Germany is opening up, and people are planning their vacation. We are hoping to explore sites and places with our students, rich in culture and history as well as vibrant and lively in the present. Here are some pictures from one of the trips we did to nearby Hamburg and Lübeck: