Talk with Students in Lviv (Ukraine)

One week ago, our students had the chance to talk with four Ukrainian students from Lviv via Zoom. The talk was facilitated by Dr. Randall R. Miller, Senior Consultant to the Chancellor of the Wayne County Community College District, with the support of the Chancellor of WCCCD and Bob Wood, Professor at the Catholic University in Lviv, in cooperation with our program. Four Ukrainian students, Sofiia, Olha, Kassandra, and Yaryna shared their experiences with studying in a war-torn country. Our Dickinson-in-Bremen students shared their thoughts after the talk:

 

“What struck me most was the normalization of the students’ experiences. Much like many people in the west have likely grown numb to seeing updates about the war in Ukraine in the news, the Ukrainian students and their professors no longer react to air sirens like they did at the beginning. It’s heartbreaking that Ukraine has been exposed to war for so long that it has settled into daily life like any other routine.” (McKenna Hillman) 

“The part that stuck with me most about hearing the Ukrainian students speak is how they have had to get used to so many horrific things. The students discussed their daily lives as consisting of daily bomb threats and sirens, frequent reminders of the fallen, general fear for loved ones, and an inability to make plans for the future. At the same time, it took them time to articulate what living in a war is like, often iterating that it just feels like normal life now.” (Abby Jones)

“It is a sobering experience to listen to current students of University in the country of Ukraine. They are similar to my peers and I, with the responsibility of school and their personal lives. But they live in constant fear of violence, whether it be inflicted on them or their family or their friends.” (Riley Robinson)

Learning about how life amidst a war has been normalized to a degree through these students was both fascinating as well as deeply concerning. I was particularly struck by the students’ description of their current reactions to air raid sirens as opposed to when the war was just beginning as well as some University classrooms doubling as bomb shelters. I recall one student saying she sometimes didn’t even react to bomb warnings and simply stayed in her apartment because it had become a normal part of her life at this point. (Grear Boyd)

“The meeting with Ukrainian students really demonstrated the reality of the impacts of the war, the day to day impacts on individuals are covered less by the international media so it was interesting to hear their perspectives, especially about continuing their lives with a semblance of normalcy amidst the chaos and terror of war.” (Gabe McGough)

 

Afterwards, the Dickinson students as well as the students from Ukraine had the opportunity to attend a talk by Dr. Ludwig, titled: “The War in Ukraine explained. An Update after Two Years,” which was followed by a Q&A session.

“While I found many aspects of Dr. Ludwig’s Ukraine talk interesting, I was particularly intrigued by her explanation of the role that social media continues to play in the ongoing conflict both on Russian and Ukrainian sides. Specifically, Russian use of misinformation to continue to justify aggression towards Ukraine was of interest. Yet, as I have seen these videos myself on my personal social media accounts, I was particularly captivated by the discussion of Ukrainian use of popular media platforms to spread awareness of inadequacies of the Russian military in order to both rouse international support for their defense efforts and to promote national morale.” (Grear Boyd)

“I found both our conversation with the students from Lviv and Dr. Ludwig’s talk incredible. Not only did I get to talk with students, folks my age, experiencing the war first hand as their day to day, I got to understand the war, tactics and its current status much better than I ever would have. I think what struck me most was how normalized war was for the Ukrainian students – one girl apologized for being so tired, as there had been air raid sirens all night and she had classes in the morning, in the same tone I might complain about the weather.” (Noah Salsich)

 

The morning after these talks, Russia launched massive drone and missile strikes on Ukrainian cities – the largest airstrike on its energy infrastructure so far in the last two years of this war.

Christmas Markets in Bremen

The holidays are approaching… And beautiful Bremen does not have just one, not two, but several Christmas markets, for instance:

At the market place.

At the river promenade.

At the train station, welcoming you to to the city.

See a video by Deutsche Welle (German wave) here.

Here are some impressions of what it looks like in Bremen right now:

All sources: BTZ

Source: bremen-city.de

 

Unesco awards Bremen the title of “City of Literature” (Stadt der Literatur)

The Unesco has included Bremen in the network of “Creative Cities”. Alongside Bremen, six other German cities are part of this network, each recognized for their contributions to contemporary art and culture. Congratulations, Bremen! 📚🌟 #Culture #Literature #Unesco #Bremen

If you are interested in finding out more, click here to read the article.

Experience Bremen at Home

View of the Market Square

Sunset at the Schlachte

“Would you like to discover the most beautiful corners of Bremen from home, visit our parlour from your couch or take a stroll through the winding Schnoor? Would you like to take a virtual tour of the museums and knowledge worlds or sail on the Weser?”

Famous Schnoor quarter

If so, then you should definitely take a look at the Visit Bremen website. There you will find lots of amazing videos, information, 360-degree tours of Bremen, as well a guided visit of the City Center. Pierre will take you on a tour of the Marktplatz square – known as Bremen’s ‘Gute Stube’ or ‘drawing room’. But what else can be found at the historic marketplace? Get ready for some surprises!

Further information can be found here: https://www.bremen.eu/tourism/bremen-at-home

And here: https://www.bremen.eu/tourism

Kathryn Baker’s Reflections on Studying Abroad in Bremen

by Kathryn Baker ’23

I studied abroad in Bremen for the full year. In that year I had some of the best times of my life and some challenging times. When I visited Munich back in 2016, I thought it was an amazing city and wanted to go to Germany again. In my first semester at Dickinson I started with German 101. When I found out there was a study abroad program in Germany, I told myself I must go. I had never even heard of the city of Bremen until I learned about the Dickinson in Bremen program. Fast forward 2 years later and I’m flying to Bremen! I struggled at first with all of the cultural differences, and I had a hard time figuring out how to work German household appliances (I may have broken the toaster). But after living in Bremen for a few months, I figured it all out. In my free time I explored every part of Bremen, and I fell in love with the city. I lived with 7 other students in a Wohngemeinschaft (WG), close to the most beautiful park in Bremen, the Bürgerpark. The majority of the students I lived with were German so I practiced my German with them and tried to understand what they were saying when they spoke fast. My flatmates and I became really good friends, and we went out together in Bremen many times. One of my flatmates even came along with my boyfriend and me to take pictures when he proposed! Some of my favorite memories include going to the Bremen Weihnachtsmarkt with my flatmates, visiting Köln with other Dickinson students, getting engaged in the Bürgerpark, going to my first pride parade in Bremerhaven, and staying with one of my German friends in Berlin for Berlin pride! I have so many funny and amazing stories ranging from getting stranded in Belgium, to clubbing in La Viva in Bremen. One of the challenges I struggled with was all of my classes being in German. The first semester of classes were especially difficult for me, but the longer I lived in Germany and the more I spoke German with my flatmates, the easier it got. The second semester of classes at Uni Bremen was much more fun since I could understand better. Despite the difficulties I had during my study abroad, I would say this was the best experience of my life. I loved Bremen so much that I am applying for EU citizenship now so I can move back to Bremen in a few years.

Independence Day Dinner 2023

We hope you had a great Independence Day!  Here are some moments we captured at the Independence Day Dinner organised by the Carl Schurz Deutsch-Amerikanischer Club e.V. at the Restaurant “Waldbühne”.

Romano De Caprio’s Internship („Praktikum“) in Rhineland-Palatinate

by Romano De Caprio ’24

Gerd Schreiner is a local politician for Rhineland-Palatinate, and he is currently fighting to make big changes. Throughout the month of March, he was gracious enough to let me experience the beauty of German local politics.

Mr. Schreiner is a member of the “Christlich Demokratische Union Deutschlands“ (CDU) in Rhineland-Palatinate, which is a successful Christian-democratic, conservative, and economically liberal party in Germany. He is the head of the ‘Klimaschutzpolitik’ for his faction, which means he has input in every form of climate protection-based policy in Rhineland-Palatinate. When I first arrived in Mainz at the end of March, I had no idea what to expect. All that I wanted to get out of this internship was to be able to see how the inner workings of German politics function. It did not take long for me to see Mr. Schreiner meet with numerous Mainz Citizens daily and work with them to better his beautiful city. On the very first night of my internship, Mr. Schreiner said to me “Come to my event tonight, it will give you a true insight into the way politics work here.”
The event was called a podium discussion, which Mr. Schreiner was the moderator of. I was unaware until the beginning of the event that the two men discussing at the podium would be Nino Haase (non-party) and Christian Viering (Die Grünen), the two men running for Mayor and at the time in a run-off race. Although it was apparent that they were competing against each other, their civility and respect for one another were incredible. Even though I might not be German it was evident to me that both candidates had the goal to make Rhineland-Palatinate better for all. The event itself was delightful and truly set the tone for the rest of my time in Mainz. The next day I was able to sit in on the CDU-Fraktion’s group meeting where they discussed what they would say at the next Parliament meeting, and then I was able to witness them in action hours later as the Bundestag met. My everyday life in Mainz was simply enhancing and unimaginable, every day was so different from the last.

One day Mr. Schreiner took me to the city of Sinzig to meet with businessmen and discuss how to avoid another possible flood. After that meeting, Mr. Schreiner drove me around the town so that I could see the impacts of the last flood and he informed me of all the tragedies that occurred in a certain area. The next day we met with two architects from Berlin and Mr. Schreiner gave them a private tour of Dom St. Johannis, the older delicate Cathedral in Mainz. I was very lucky to see the insides of this beautiful historic Cathedral for myself, and I could not believe how spooky the hidden crypt aspect was.

However, my absolute favorite experience of my internship did not even take place in Mainz. On a Friday in late March, Mr. Schreiner, his team, and I drove to a town called Würzburg in Bavaria. There we learned about the new innovative ways that people are becoming more carbon-friendly and what adaptations ‘Wine Mountains’ have made in the past few years. Both topics were insightful to learn about and everyone was extremely nice. It was tricky to understand the Germans from Bavaria because they have a very unique dialect, but I had an amazing time.

Overall, working for Mr. Schreiner was simply a pleasure, I was genuinely excited to go to his office every day. I did not have the most rigorous amount of daily work as my big project was to write an article on the differences in carbon neutrality in sports stadiums between the US and Germany, that will appear in a book published by Mr. Schreiner. This article took up the majority of my time in Mainz, and along the journey of writing it, Mr. Schreiner was extremely kind in helping me. He taught me a lot about the German grammar errors I was making but more importantly, this project taught me how to take it upon myself to research a topic and gain expertise on it all on my own. I am very grateful Mr. Schreiner took me on to be his “Praktikant” and it has been a memory of a lifetime for me!

Impressions and favorite sights from this year’s Berlin excursion

An insight into German politics, a lot of exciting sights and of course loads of Currywurst. Our spring students share their most liked moments from the trip to the capital of Germany.

“Weimar is a small city in the heart of Germany, but it has a deep history and culture tied to it. The city is surrounded by nature, and it has a plethora of statues and historical buildings dotted throughout the streets. My favorite place in Weimar was Goethe’s house. It was interesting to peer into the private life of such a prolific writer.” – Sean Moore ’24

“I really enjoyed visiting the Bundestag. It was really cool to get the experience to sit in the parliament and learn so much about the way meetings are conducted there. Getting to also explore the dome above was really nice, the view from there of the city was really beautiful.” – Vasilisa Pallis ’24

“Besides getting to eat Currywurst nearly everyday, a highlight from the Berlin trip was the underground Bunker tour. It was both interesting and eerie seeing how the subway infrastructure was planned to be used for protection in the case of a nuclear attack and really underscored the tension present in Berlin during the Cold War.” – Benjamin Wiggins ’24

“My favorite part of the trip was visiting the Stasi Museum. It was very cool to see the espionage acts committed by the Stasi and seeing how miserable life was in the GDR was very enlightening. Our tour guide was very kind and knowledgeable and I am thankful to have seen the archives at the museum.” – Romano De Caprio ’24

“My favorite activity in Berlin was the boat tour. The weather and the water were beautiful and relaxing that day. It was great that we could see a bunch of important things all in a one-hour tour. The tour guide was also very nice and funny.” – Asher Reede ’24

Mosaic in Bremen!

From March 5th to March 18th a Dickinson Mosaic group focused on sustainability and led by Professor Antje Pfannkuchen (German Studies) and Professor Heather Bedi (Environmental Studies) went on a two-week trip to Germany.

The group got to experience a multifaceted itinerary, including a tour through a historic pumped storage power plant and the VW EV-production facility, talking to renewable energy specialist, etc., spanning over three big cities in Germany: Berlin, Dresden and last but certainly not least Bremen!

In Bremen, the Dickinson-in-Bremen program had the pleasure of welcoming this wonderful group and dining together at the famous “Ratskeller” in the city center, followed by a very entertaining Night Guardian tour of the city.

 

 

 

Impressions and favorite sights from this year’s Vienna excursion!

 “The best part about Vienna (and Bratislava) was walking around the city and exploring. The city center is packed with people and historic buildings. Being able to walk around and absorb the sights was a great experience.” – Sean Moore ’24

“My favorite attraction was the Austrian National Library. The whole building was very beautiful and very large. The architecture and the pictures on the ceiling were not only beautiful, they also have an interesting history. There are 7 million books in there. Some of the books are from the 15th century and you can read almost every book .” – Asher Reede ’24
“Going to the „Kunsthistorisches Museum“ (National Art Museum) was interesting in how the collections were organized. We had been discussing the Habsburgs all week, and now we got to walk through a few emperors’ art collections.” – Ben Wiggins ’24

“My favorite sight was also the Austrian National Library. I found the books very interesting and the architecture was amazing. This is a statue of the emperor Charles VI and he was symbolized as the sun. There were red sun flames on the floor and which I found very intriguing.” – Romano De Caprio ’24

“Personally, I really enjoyed the guided city tour we had the first night. The architecture of the buildings was so beautiful. I really enjoyed just looking at all the sights of the beautiful city of Vienna.” – Vasilisa Pallis ’24