GIS on Entrepreneurship in Bremen – Reflections from Kayden Tucker and William Giguere

“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

Globally Integrated Semester on Entrepreneurship in Bremen – Reflection from Sierra Stevens

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!

This is what Sierra had to say about her 2-week stay in Bremen:
“I was initially very nervous about traveling to Germany. Not only had I never traveled out of the country, but I also didn’t know any German. Sophie’s expertise (an exchange student from Bremen University) calmed my nerves a bit, but I was still anxious about the trip.
However, the minute I landed in Bremen and boarded the tram, I knew it was going to be an incredible trip. Everyone was incredibly welcoming, kind, and understanding about our lack of knowledge concerning the German culture and language.
The food, despite its surprisingly low cost, was incredible. I am a very picky eater, but I didn’t have a single meal that I disliked. Even the cafeteria food at the University of Bremen was delicious. The Dickinson-in-Bremen program treated us to a number of meals at luxurious restaurants and cafes, assisting us through our interactions and ensuring we acted in a respectful manner.
The program assistant and academic director of the Dickinson program in Bremen were especially helpful. Leandra handled our large, occasionally rowdy, always tardy, group with ease. She treated us as friends and offered earnest recommendations daily. I am thankful for her friendliness and diligence. Dr. Ludwig was equally as supportive, giving us informative lectures on German entrepreneurial history, the country’s opinions on America’s contemporary issues, and instructing us on how to behave in a “German” way. She was always enthusiastic in answering our many questions and was clearly passionate about her job. She truly wanted our group to have a wonderful experience (and that we did).
Our itinerary was packed with business visits and informational sessions, with plenty of free time mixed in. Some of the highlights included a tour of Mercedes Benz, a visit to Beck’s Brewery, meeting with members of the Bremen Senate, the Emigration Museum in Bremerhaven, exploring the restaurants and gift shops in the Schnoor and the Schlachte, as well as our trip to Berlin.
There is plenty more I could say about the experience, but I will end it with this. I had an extraordinary time in Germany and I will definitely be back. This trip is one that I will remember forever.”
Photo credit: Durden Dickinson Bremen Program

Reflections on My Semester Abroad in Germany

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

Peter Philips Receives Prestigious CBYX Fellowship

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.

https://culturalvistas.org/programs/abroad/congress-bundestag-youth-exchange-young-professionals/

When we will be able to travel again… Part II

by Dr. Janine Ludwig

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.

Student’s comments:

“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<

Globally Integrated Seminar – GIS

by Dr. Janine Ludwig

In response to the pandemic, Dickinson College developed the innovative format of the Globally Integrated Seminar (GIS) with many of our study-abroad sites. For Bremen, I was conducting a class on “Germany and the Cold War” this spring semester.

This seminar covered political and cultural developments in Germany throughout the 20th century. Through critical engagement with texts, documentaries and films, we tried to understand how people have felt about their times and the future, about modernity, about the block confrontation, their governments, and much more. We also occasionally examined the images of America that Germans produced at different times. The division of Germany, Europe and the world into East and West was discussed up to the revolution of 1989, which contributed to the fall of the Soviet Union and led to German reunification as well as the eastward expansion of the European Union.

We started with the German Empire around 1900, World War I and the Russian Revolution, continued with World War II and the separation of Germany and then delved into the history of the two Germanies. Finally, we analyzed the peaceful revolution of 1989 and German runification as well as Ostalgie (nostalgia for the East). Every week, the students wrote a blog post answering a specific question related to the readings. While we were watching films, we chatted and commented on what we saw or discussed questions that occurred.

In order to offer international experiences and discussions to our students, we invited several high-level German guests to the sessions. Among them was Egon Krenz, Head of State of the GDR in the fall of 1989, who answered critical questions, for instance about his current judgment on socialism, about the moment he realized that his government was losing control and why he thinks the socialist Eastern Bloc eventually lost the Cold War. He described how accidental the fall of the Berlin Wall actually was and what the immediate Russian reaction was that he received.

 

Here are some students’ comments from anonymous evaluations:

“One of my favorite classes that I have taken at Dickinson.”

“This was one of the best discussion-based classes I’ve had at Dickinson, I enjoyed the openness of the professor to other pollical ideas and hard questions. She always tried to answer them the best she could without any prejudice and it was incredibly helpful.”

“Professor Ludwig’s enthusiasm helped make engagement in this course a meaningful experience.”

“Fantastic instructor, who showed great interest in the subject matter.”

“I liked the way the course was structured a lot.”

“This was a great course and I really enjoyed the professor’s teachings! I hope to hold onto what I learned in this class for the rest of my life. There was a lot of great life lessons mixed in with the political talks that we had.”

“This course challenged my language skills through the readings, writings and watching the films. I learned more about Germany’s history than I did before and want to continue to learn.”

“Amazing as always. Incredibly receptive to student feedback and opinions, understanding, very passionate about the subject material and about students doing well.”

“I know I was quiet again this semester. Zoom classes make me incredibly anxious which makes it incredibly difficult to participate often. But I did enjoy the class and learn a lot, and I’m going to miss Professor Ludwig a lot.”

“Dr Ludwig was very interested in the material we were learning, and her personal interest and input on content made the class more enjoyable. The classroom learning atmosphere was very comfortable. It felt that anybody could contribute and say what they wanted to say.”

And this is what two students wrote as open feedback:

“The Egon Krenz talk was truly fascinating and something I will never forget. It was really cool to speak with a former DDR leader, who was the leader when the Berlin Wall fell. While we both had different views on the world, we were able to have a very interesting discussion about topics like the Cold War, Donald Trump, and current world politics.” >Mac Tambussi ’23<

“I enjoyed Dr. Ludwig’s seminar examining Germany’s relationship to the Cold War not only because it was the first course I had ever taken about German history, but also because I was living with my German relatives for the first half of the semester and the course’s content helped me start some very interesting discussions with them. As a German major and a musician at Dickinson, I was also particularly fascinated by the history of Rock music in the GDR and how the attitude of government’s attitudes towards the genre shifted over time.” >Nick Rickert ‘23<

“Six Months Turned into Six Incredible Weeks”

by Molly Wells ’21

Like most other American university students studying abroad, I too was sent home early due to the cancellation of the Dickinson-in-Germany program. All I seemed to read and hear for a while is about the coronavirus and how “the world is ending.” I, for one, was slowly coming to terms with the fact that these next few months would not be the ones in which I live in Bremen. Because, however, I spent some of the best weeks of my life in Bremen, I have chosen to focus on the positive and fun aspects of my time there.

The best experiences in life revolve around the people that one meets. This was certainly true of my experience in Bremen. I could not have asked for a better group of people to study abroad with. Each one of us desired to fully immerse ourselves in Bremen culture as well as truly improve our German. The “springies” (students studying abroad in the spring) consisted of five language nerds ready for adventure. And what an (short) adventure we had.

My second evening in Bremen (and other students’ first) was spent in an Irish pub in the Viertel of Bremen watching a Werder Bremen soccer game. While I cannot say I watched a lot of the game, I was thoroughly entertained by the reactions and faces of the German soccer fans. Werder Bremen was (and still is) doing quite poorly in the league as I understand it, but that game was quite an exception. They ended up defeating one of the best teams in Germany. I took this as a sign that my time in Bremen was going to be just like that: a great victory in the face of adversary. In some ways, it was.

One of the more “German” experiences I had revolved around what is known as a “Kohl-Tour.” When I first heard of this mysterious activity, I thought people were saying “Kultur” which means “culture.” I thought this sounded like the perfect way to immerse myself in Bremen culture, since the activity itself was named “culture!” While “Kohl-Tour” in fact means “kale (or cabbage) tour,” it did show me a glimpse of Bremen culture. We gathered on a Saturday mid-morning with shopping carts full of alcohol and loudspeakers. We then proceeded to walk in a huge loop which was probably around six miles long. Every so often, the leaders of the group would announce “Kreuzung!” and we would stop and play various games or crack open a new beer. I was mostly fascinated by how accommodating everyone was. Something like this would be seen as extremely disruptive in the US, but we didn’t travel through any neighborhoods, and everyone who passed us met us with a smile and a wave. Every time a bike was seen headed our way, we would shout “Fahrrad!” until everyone had moved to the sides of the path. At the end of our long journey, we gathered to eat the famous “Grünkohl” (kale cooked with sausages or veggie sausages) that had been cooked earlier that morning. It was a great way to meet other Uni Bremen students as well as get a taste of part of Bremen culture. I thought I had walked a great distance during this experience, but little did I know, it would not be my farthest walking adventure I had in Bremen, Germany.

Another of the “springies” and I were supposed to go to Poland on an excursion in early March, but this was the first trip to be cancelled due to the outbreak of COVID-19. We decided we wanted to travel somewhere ourselves during this time instead. I love hiking and have only been “real” backpacking once, but I knew I wanted to try my hand at the activity again in Germany. The other “springie” loves walking and can walk for miles upon miles without getting tired. Therefore, we decided we should go on a backpacking trip. We did not have camping gear, and my walking partner was not entirely attracted to the idea of sleeping on the ground for four nights, so we decided we would stay in hostels instead. I’ll just say I don’t think my body would have survived if it hadn’t had a bed to sleep in each night, given the amount of walking we did.

We decided we wanted to walk along the Rhine river; I had found a bike path we could follow that was supposed to take us through a nice scenic route hitting three major cities. We took a bus down to Bonn and then walked to Cologne and then Düsseldorf in four days. Turns out that the route I had found was under water in early March, but we persevered nonetheless. Our total distance walked ended up being around seventy miles, and the sites were beautiful. My feet were not quite as beautiful; I still had two blood blisters over a month after we got back…

Despite the bodily pain of the trip, I had such a great time. Seeing a different part of Germany was wonderful and walking through it was even better. Walking forces one to take in all the details of a place. The places and the river we took in were simple yet magnificent. I returned to Bremen, however, with the conclusion that none of the cities we had traveled through were as beautiful as Bremen.

There were so many other experiences I had during my time in Bremen, but I have rambled about my emotional attachment to the place long enough. Each experience I had was only incredible because of the people I shared them with. While I wished I could have spent more time in the beautiful city of Bremen, I know I will return soon. I will forever be grateful for the six weeks I was able to spend there. Thank you, Bremen.

                            

Academic Internship

by Corson Ellis ’21

IHMG conference  © J. Ludwig

From March until August of 2019, I helped the International Heiner Müller Society (IHMG) and Dr. Ludwig, the Academic Director for Dickinson in Bremen, with her work on the role of women in the works of Heiner Müller, a famous East German playwright, poet, essayist, and dramaturge. I attended two conferences (on Heiner Müller, organized by the IHMG, and Bertolt Brecht, organized by the International Brecht Society), helped translation, gathered research materials, digitized documents, and had the opportunity to get an article published in the IBS’s online journal “Communications” (ecibs). It was a formative experience, teaching me about time management, self-discipline, and the amount of work that is required in academia (it was a lot more than I had ever thought). Having already held a job in the US, the internship in Germany showed me in greater detail the difference between German and US work environments.

IHMG Conference, March 2019 © J. Ludwig

Above all else, the conferences left a great impression on me. It helped me realize that even in field of the study of a single east German intellectual, there can be a great variety of perspectives and debate. I saw people who were passionately engaged in debate that remained civil and friendly, while constantly looking at Müller’s or Brecht’s works in a new light. It helped me develop my own ability, especially in an academic context, of looking at concepts or artistic works from multiple perspectives and trying to figure out not just what the author intended, but also how a play about the Haitian revolution can provide an insight into modern politics in the USA.

Prof. Dr. Florian Vaßen, IHMG, in Hannover

Theater play in conjunction with IHMG’s Müller conference in Hannover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IBS Conference in Leipzig, June 2019 © Raffaelle Di Tizio

I spent 6 months in Germany, yet the time flew by, and before I knew it my internship was over, my finals completed, my bank account closed, and my rental bike returned. The time that you have to spend abroad is fleeting, and I encourage everyone to take the risks that I did. Try to get an internship, take a class you might not normally take, go on a Flix bus ride for 20 hours. Dickinson makes sure that you have all of the tools to have a once in a lifetime experience while in Germany, and it is up to you to seize that chance.

Public Health at Uni Bremen

by Liam Pauli ‘21

Public Health classes at Uni Bremen can be interesting for Dickinson Biology majors because they explore health-related topics on a more macro-level. Often in biology classes at Dickinson, we are studying material on a micro-level in order to discover the root of a process or function. Taking a Public Health class at Uni Bremen allows you to contextualize that information with relevant topics to see science from a more interconnected perspective, especially when it could be relevant to Germany and Bremen. I took a course on the historical development of public health at Uni Bremen, which often had a focus on Germany, and I really liked being able to connect my knowledge of biology with historical information. The Public Health department at Uni Bremen is fantastic, and I truly felt like I learned a lot during my time in the course. For someone who is interested in German studies and Biology, taking Public Health classes could be an interesting way to blend your interests while staying connected to the sciences at Dickinson.

Finding a WG

by Liam Pauli ’21

In deciding to come to Bremen for the fall semester, I thought a lot about the chance to live in a Wohngemeinschaft (WG), a shared flat with other German students. It was an opportunity that I felt I could not refuse, but I assumed that since I was leaving Germany in January, it would be hard to make that living situation work. It was not until this past June when Ms. Mertz, our Dickinson-in-Bremen program coordinator, emailed us recommending that we try to live in a WG. I thought it would be a good idea, so I pursued it.

From the links she provided us (here below), I chose to apply through wg-gesucht.de. From approximately 15 WG applications, I got six replies, with one being my final choice. And it was probably the best decision I have made in Bremen so far. My WG is near the University of Bremen in the Studentenwohnheim on Vorstraße, which is a great location to commute from by bike to the university (and my bike was left to me by the former occupant of my room). The guy who used to live in my room is studying abroad as well, which made it very easy for me to live in his room while he is away (these types of rooms are called “zur Zwischenmiete”). The 6 tram line is a 5 minute walk from my WG, which gets me directly downtown in approximately 15 minutes.

I have five flatmates, four of which are German, and they speak German with me every day and correct me when needed. It’s great to have other people around too, but it’s also really nice to have my own furnished (möbliert) room and space. Our WG gets along really well and we have a chore list that we rotate through each week. Every week on Sundays, a different person cooks for everyone to have a Sunday “family” dinner. WG life really gets you immersed in the German culture by seeing how Germans, and specifically German students, live, eat, speak, and go about their daily lives. I would highly recommend living in a WG to anyone considering living in one.

https://www.wg-gesucht.de/wg-zimmer-in-Bremen.17.0.1.0.html

https://www.studenten-wg.de/angebote_lesen.html?detailsuche=aus&stadt=Bremen&fuer=Zimmer+in+WG

http://bremen.homecompany.de/

http://schwarzesbrett.bremen.de/verkauf-angebote/rubrik/wohngemeinschaftsangebote-verkauf.html

https://www.stw-bremen.de/de/wohnanlagen-bremen/wohnanlage-horn-lehe (scroll to the end to find free rooms)

https://www.stw-bremen.de/de/wohnanlagen-bremen/wohnanlage-weidedamm (scroll to the end to find free rooms)

https://www.stw-bremen.de/de/wohnanlagen-bremen/wohnpark-am-fleetspittaler-stra%C3%9Fe (scroll to the end to find free rooms)

https://www.stw-bremen.de/de/wohnanlagen-bremen/wohnpark-am-fleetvorstra%C3%9Fe (scroll to the end to find free rooms)

https://www.stw-bremen.de/de/wohnanlagen-bremen/wohnpark-luisental-28-29 (scroll to the end to find free rooms)