by Mia Siemers
Our course “Comparative Cultures–USA/ Germany” went on a trip to the “Auswandererhaus” (Emigration Center) in Bremerhaven. In the beginning, each of us received a biography from one of the immigrants who travelled from different cities to the United States. As the tour continued, we got more information about their crossing as well as their lives in a foreign country. The guide told us a variety of interesting aspects and facts from 1620 to the present. We were able to get an insight into the history of immigration due to a multimedia exhibition. Over all, it was a great experience with lots of new knowledge and laughter.
by Mac Tambussi ’23
When I was picking which college to go to my senior year of high school, I knew studying abroad was a huge factor in my decision. Ultimately, I landed on Dickinson, which has great study abroad programs all over the world. Before I started school, I went to Germany in 2019 with my host family and fell in love with the country. After I returned to the U.S., I knew I wanted to come back. When I found out Dickinson had a program in Germany, I was ecstatic and had a feeling that when Junior spring came around, I would be back in the country that I grew to love.
When going through the application process, I knew the program was in Bremen, but to be honest, I did not know Bremen existed. Well fast forward to today, I consider Bremen my second home. In the six months I spent in Bremen, I formed friendships, tried new activities, learned more about the culture, and overall just had a blast.
The friendships I made, both people from Dickinson and the USA on the trip, and those from Germany and all over the world, have made a huge impact on my life. My friends and I went on many trips to many different cities/amusements across Germany and Europe such as Cologne, Hamburg, Bonn, Heide Park, Bremerhaven, Berlin, Vienna, and Amsterdam. In addition in Bremen, we were able to travel to different parts of the city, where we would try new restaurants, go shopping, help in service activities, watch soccer, and go to clubs (my personal favorite was Modernes). In addition to that, I and two of my friends joined the rugby team, where we were able to form a solid friendship with them also.
The school aspect was also really cool. For the first two months, we spent time with both Aristoles and Goethe Institute learning the language. This was because almost all of our classes at the University of Bremen were in German. After becoming proficient in German, we began our classes. Three of my classes were business related and one was Political Science related. They were all super interesting and gave me a different perspective on how higher education is in Germany and different viewpoints. All in all, I had a great learning experience in Germany.
Lastly, learning about the culture and trying new foods was a highlight. Having Doner Kebab, Wiener Schnitzel, and Wurst was awesome. Everything was delicious! Trying different things, playing new games, and experiencing the culture from a first-hand experience were amazing. The Dickinson in Germany study abroad experience is one I will never forget. I was able to try so many different things and get to meet and see so many friends! I liked it so much, that I am currently applying for a Fulbright Grant to be an English Teaching Assistant in Germany. I can’t wait to come back to visit. Till next time Germany!
by Shannon Vogel
At the University of Bremen, the Hochschulsport provides many fitness classes for students to take for a relatively low price. Dickinson will also reimburse you up to a certain amount to take these courses. You can see a list of past/current course offerings on their website, as well as when registration goes live for the upcoming semester. They offer several styles of dance, martial arts, team sports (volleyball, rugby, etc.) and yoga.
I took a Modern Jazz course this semester, where I got to meet several other Uni Bremen students. Our class had the opportunity to perform at the Breminale, a music festival in Bremen. The class focused on learning a few combos, as well as an entire choreographed dance.
While the Hochschulsport classes provide many options, they do follow the semester class schedule (generally the lecture period), which means the courses won’t run the entirety of the time you are in Bremen. For me, I arrived in February and left in August, but the Modern Jazz course only ran from April through July. Since I still wanted to dance/exercise for the entire semester, I found an independent ballet studio in the city. There are a lot of dance studios throughout Bremen, but the one I settled on was polkadotBallettStudios. I found their prices fair and the staff helpful. They offer modern and hip-hop classes as well, but they are primarily a ballet studio. I signed up to take classes twice a week, and really enjoyed it! I got to learn some new German vocabulary, as well as meet people my age who don’t study at Uni Bremen.
If you’re interested in a particular style of dance, I do recommend researching all of your options in Bremen, as there are many studios in the city.
by Nick Rickert ’23
Last week Evan and I were delighted to attend Theater Bremen’s performance of the classic German musical play “Die Dreigroschenoper” (The Threepenny Opera), written by Bertolt Brecht with music composed by Kurt Weill and first performed in Berlin in 1928. This was our first time attending a theatrical performance in Bremen. Having only read a brief synopsis of the narrative beforehand, we came to find that the production was much less of what one might expect from an opera but rather a musical supported by a modestly sized jazz ensemble (with no conductor!). I wouldn’t call myself an avid musical goer, but I was enthralled by the lively assortment of characters and fantastic music.
Adapted from an 18th-century English ballad opera, “Die Dreigroschenoper” tells the precarious love story between the antihero Macheath (Mackie Messer), a prominent gangster, and Polly Peachum, whose father controls the beggers of London and is determined to put Macheath in prison after the two become married (not to mention tying the knot just days after meeting for the first time!). I was immersed as soon as the curtains opened silently to reveal a rugged wooden floor with a steep slope and the beggars laying in darkness.
I was stunned by the singing voices of Polly and Macheath, whose dialogue and ballads easily stole the stage whenever they appeared. In between these moving scenes Evan and I couldn’t help but chuckle at every move of the corrupt chief of police “Tiger” who broke the fourth wall by having a short interaction with the drummer, breaking one of their cymbals. I also found it heartwarming that since it was the last performance of this production, the director bade thoughtful farewells to several cast members leaving the theater company. Later that evening I couldn’t help but hum ‘Die Moritat von Mackie Messer’ to myself.
by Kathryn Baker ’23
In February of this year, I was offered a job at the University of Bremen by Dr. Thorsten Wettich. Dr. Thorsten Wettich is currently working on multiple religious projects, including the one I am helping with: The German Lutheran Identification Project. There are also two other students, besides me, from Uni Bremen that are working on this project funded by the American Academy of Religion. The Collaborative Research Grant of the American Academy of Religion is used for students from each university of the applicants in the USA and Germany to support Thorsten Wettich with the observation of German-speaking (online) worship services in the USA and interviewing one pastor and one member in the congregations.
The focus of this project is to gather more information about German Lutheran churches and services in the United States. Dr. Wettich traveled to different German Lutheran Churches all over the USA, attended services and interviewed pastors and churchgoers about what it means to be German and Lutheran. He interviewed over 35 people, and one of my jobs was to transcribe interviews and write down important notes. We have had workshops that go into detail about how to analyze data from the interviews and how to interview people. I was assigned a German Lutheran Church in the Baltimore area. I attended their online church services, interviewed the pastor of the church and then transcribed the interview. My focus was on the differences between the German Lutheran Church he preaches at, and the English-speaking Lutheran Church he also preaches at.
Overall, I have thoroughly enjoyed working on this project. I have learned many new skills including how to transcribe interviews, how to properly interview people, analyze data and coding interviews. Even though I am not being paid anymore for this job after June, I am currently still helping with the project. I will be helping with the publication of the findings and hopefully presenting this project online in the future. Even when I am back at Dickinson, I will still be working on this project!
“I thought the program was phenomenal. German culture is full of some of the most friendly and innovative minds that I’ve ever come into contact with. From the heightened level of sophistication seen in the Mercedes Benz factory to the attention to detail in the art of brewing beer- I learned so much about business abroad here and I’m super grateful for all of the experiences I had the pleasure of enjoying while abroad!”
(Kayden Tucker ’22)
“My time in Bremen, Germany with the GIS program was for sure a time to remember. The Dickinson Program and students currently studying abroad were extremely helpful in preparing us and making a country I have never been to feel like home for two weeks. I was amazed at learning the German culture and learning a bit of the German language on the side. As I had never been to Germany before, I had a wonderful time taking in every experience. Our time visiting local businesses was very eye opening into the global markets and the ways COVID-19 altered business outputs/operations.” (William Giguere ’23)
Photo credit: Durden Dickinson Bremen Program
As part of the GISEB (Globally Integrated Semester on Entrepreneurship in Bremen) program, we recently had the pleasure of welcoming some great visitors to Bremen! Check out these wonderful photos, taken by participant Sierra Stevens! Stay tuned for more photo and video content!
by Brendan Harlan ’22
I wanted to get a tattoo while in Germany, but instead I got my COVID-19 booster shot.
That’s really not a sentence I ever envisioned myself saying when I dreamt of going abroad, first as a prospective Dickinson student and then as a first-year and sophomore pre-pandemic. However, like everyone else in the past two years, what I dreamt of and what I experienced were two very different things. I’m glad that I got the chance to spend 21 weeks in Germany though, across a stretch of time that saw the country choose its first new Chancellor since 2005 and weather a second winter of a global pandemic.
At Dickinson, I’m majoring in International Studies and in German, but my experience out of the United States amounted to less than a week spent between Victoria in British Columbia and a jaunt across the New York-Canada border to see the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. Flying in and out of the Frankfurt airport represented the first and second international flights of my life.
In Heidelberg, Berlin, Bremen, and all the other places I visited in Germany, I enjoyed the feeling of being somewhere vastly different than my usual haunts in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. I loved walking through the Bremer Altstadt, up the winding roads leading to the Heidelberg Schloss, around the Brandenburg Gate, and up countless stairs to get views overlooking Köln, Leipzig, and Dresden. I listened to a choir perform in Leipzig’s Thomaskirche and to trumpet sonatas performed in the Bremer Dom. And amongst other places and things, I also looked for scenes where old things and modern things were next to one another, like the cranes towering over Hamburg or the City-Hochhaus tower looming over the New Town Hall in Leipzig.
Oftentimes in city centers in Germany, if you sound like an American tourist, people will respond to you in English. However, I’m quite proud that the grocery cashiers and coffee shop baristas rarely switched from German when talking with me. I became confident enough with traveling by train and tram too, that, multiple times, I was approached with questions about directions and train arrival times and whether certain tickets worked with Deutsche Bahn or not. I usually stumbled through my German responses, but I always felt flattered that at least it seemed like I was from around there.
I also ate a lot of great food and pushed myself to avoid any US-based fast food (except that one chicken sandwich from McDonald’s that tasted better than any McDonald’s I’d had before). I developed a love for cappuccinos, Schnitzel, Döner, and Radler. I collected souvenir mugs from four different Christmas markets. I experimented with multiple ways of how to make home fry potatoes, which jam to buy for my traditional German bread, and how to best budget my Euros between Aldi, Rewe, and the other grocery stores. I figured out how to get free COVID tests in the Winter too, as cases rose and 3G rules became 2G rules.
What I most appreciated about my time abroad, though, was the separation from my normal life and usual perspective on things. It was a double-edged sword, as I did find being away from my usual support system quite difficult, but I also learned about myself as I was able to view my life in the US from an almost third-person perspective. I thought a lot about how I’d ended up in Germany, how I’d become who I am, and what I want next from myself. In my classes, I learned about the last century of international relations from a German perspective, discussed the history of the relationship between Germany and the US, and examined the histories of immigration and the social welfare state within Germany.
I also met a lot of people, including people from Germany, Austria, Vietnam, India, and Alabama. I had great conversations about cultural differences such as how Uni Bremen differed from Dickinson, went to a science talk auf Deutsch in a bar, made German food with my roommates for a Christmas dinner, and attended a Werder Bremen game in the fans’ standing section behind the goal. Since I went to see Werder Bremen play, on the day that both their head coach and assistant coach resigned due to fake COVID vaccination cards, they’ve risen from 11th in the 2. Bundesliga table to 2nd with four games left to play.
Throughout my time abroad, I took a bunch of photos and expanded my knowledge of popular German music. I also developed a closer relationship with my parents, despite being an ocean apart. I hosted my girlfriend, who I originally met in a German 101 course, for Christmas break, and showed her around Bremen and Heidelberg. And, lastly, I learned how to wear a scarf properly, bought a turtleneck, and once walked over an hour from the city center to my WG in the dark with my roommates after we accidentally missed the last tram of the night.
So, I may not have a tattoo from my time abroad in Germany like I originally wanted, but I did do a heck of a lot and have memories just as enduring as a tattoo. I’ll just have to return at a later point to get that tattoo. Bis später, Deutschland.
Photo credit: Durden Dickinson Bremen Program
by Peter Philips ’22
I was recently accepted into the 2022-2023 Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) for Young Professionals, a fellowship funded by the US Department of State and the German Bundestag that allows 75 American students the opportunity to spend a year in German to study both the German Language and their academic interests, complete an internship, and engage in cultural exchange. A close friend of mine and fellow exchange student from Vanderbilt University who participated in my 2020 spring semester abroad in Bremen, Molly Wells, is currently completing the fellowship and told me about the opportunity.
In order to qualify for CBYX, an applicant must be a high school graduate, be between the ages of 18 and 24 1/2 by the time of the program’s start, have a desired career field, and be an American citizen. The requirements are set to allow applicants with a wide variety backgrounds to participate in the main directive of this program: citizen diplomacy. The 75 Americans part of each cohort act as cultural ambassadors to present to people in German academic institutions, workplaces, and community spaces the best, and brightest of young career-focused Americans regardless of their backgrounds.
With that mission in mind, I had to show the program coordinators when applying for the fellowship my commitment to citizen diplomacy and my professional direction. While CBYX does not require prior knowledge of German, my extensive knowledge of German showcases my ability to already effectively engage in cultural exchange with Germans. Additionally, my background in foreign languages and studying abroad similarly demonstrates my interest in general cross-cultural communication.
As for professional direction, I wrote on my application my intention to pursue a career in the historic preservation of architecture. Describing my past internships working at architectural history sites and my major in art history conveyed to the program coordinators my familiarity in the field. Demonstrating these qualities to the CBYX coordinators led to a successful application.