Wesleyan students Miles Cohen ‘23, Anna Tjeltveit ‘23, Josh DuBois ‘23, and Thoma Mitsuya ’23, who have been studying at Hamburg University with the Smith-Hamburg program since March 2022, joined Professor Bork on a historical walking tour through Blankenese, a suburb of Hamburg. They arrived at the S-Bahn station, built in 1867 and located next to Erik Blumenfeld Platz. The location was named after Erik Blumenfeld (1915-1997). As the son of a Jewish father and Danish mother, he was deported to Auschwitz in 1943. Luckily, he survived this death camp and returned to Hamburg. He became a German politician in the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the German Bundestag, and the European Parliament.
During the tour, we passed Prof. Bork’s great-grandparents’ former house. Two Stolpersteine remind the passers-by of their deportation to and death in Theresienstadt.
Near the local market, a memorial stone reminds us of eight young men from Blankenese who participated in the 1848 uprising of Schleswig-Holstein. In 1640, Blankenese had become part of the Duchy of Holstein, which was then reigned over by Danish kings for more than 200 years. In the mid-19th century, it was briefly ruled over by Austria, then by Prussia, and since 1938, Blankenese has been a district of Hamburg.
We continued our walk by then visiting the Hessepark. It is named after George Heinrich Hesse (1785-1861), who was one of the founders of the German Commerzbank. Before him, around 1800, Mr. and Mrs. Klünder lived in what became the Hessepark. Friederike Klünder introduced smallpox vaccination in Blankenese and the surrounding villages by personally vaccinating 2,168 children and adults against the disease.
We then entered the “Treppenviertel” (staircase quarter), with its over 5,000 steps, and descended 150 steps to the river
Elbe on the Strandtreppe. At the bottom is the well-known Strandhotel famous for its two reliefs featuring Hermann and Dorothea from Goethe’s novel of the same title.
Our one-hour long tour continued through Baurs Park, named after the businessman Georg Friedrich Baur (1768-1865), whose manor house was built by the famous Danish architect, Hansen (1756-1845).
Not far from this beautiful park, our tour ended with “Kaffee und Kuchen” on Prof. Bork’s balcony. Miles was exhausted and rested in the Strandkorb.
Jenna Lacey ’21 has been studying at the University of Tübingen since fall 2021. She is pursuing a MA in Public Policy and Social Change. This is a two-year program. She recently received a DAAD scholarship to finance her second year of study.
During her spring break she visited Professor Bork in Hamburg. They took the ferry from Blankenese to Landungsbrücken and visited the Elbphilharmonie, as well as many other interesting sites.
One evening Miles ’23 and Anna ’23 joined them to learn how to cook asparagus. In Germany asparagus is white and needs to be peeled—a painstaking process that is not for the faint of heart.
Anna Tjeveit’23, a GRST and ENGL double major, is currently studying at the University of Hamburg through the Smith in Hamburg study abroad program. After finishing her classes in July, she will use the generous funding from the German Studies Department’s Reihlen Fund to do research for her thesis, which is a novella focusing on nature conservation efforts in the GDR. Her novella focuses on a nature- conservation volunteer who struggles to reconcile her work with the government’s increasingly destructive environmental practices. Anna is interested in the way in which we as individuals process environmental destruction and in how concern for nature may or may not translate to political engagement. Through this project, she hopes to study East German perspectives towards nature and environmentalism while illuminating parallels between the GDR’s environmental movement and current international struggles against climate change. Anna will be visiting several cities in the former East-Germany.
Yasemin Schmitt ’24, a GRST and Neuroscience double major, will be volunteering this summer at the New York Blood Center, helping blood donors recover and watching for adverse reactions. In addition, she will be volunteering at Staten Island University Hospital and an Assisted Living Memory Care facility where she will help run activities and visit patients. Starting in July, Yasemin will work as a teaching assistant for a bioinformatics course for high schoolers at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City. In her spare time, she plans to practice her German and read many German books. A good for site for practicing German is Deutsch für Dich.
Linus Mao ’23, a GRST and COL major, is spending this summer in Germany, where they is doing research for their senior thesis. Linus has already visited the Walter Benjamin Archive in Berlin, which—as they wrote to Prof. Bork—“was already an unforgettable experience.” Linus will spend three weeks in the Deutsche Literaturarchiv located in Marbach, doing research on the German/English author, W. G. (Max) Sebald. Then Linus will visit Frankfurt to study at the DFF Archive and Study Center, which holds all the archival material of German film director Rainer Werner Fassbinder. This research has been funded by the German Studies Department’s Reihlen Fund. Linus will return to the US in mid-July to do further study and start applying to graduate schools.
Jake Neuffer ‘23, a GRST and CSS double major, received the Reihlen and Davenport grants to doresearch in Berlin this summer. He will be studying the rise of Germany’s military budget in light of the Ukraine conflict and whether the war represents a reconfiguration of the relationship among the German people to nationalism, democracy, and the government. The Berlin Social Science Center (WZB) has offered Jake the position of Guest Scientist to aid in his research.
John Sutherby ’23, a GRST and ECON double major, will be moving to New YorkCity this summer and attend the Deutsche Bank Internship Program in Investment Banking. He is excited about this opportunity as well as living in the Big Apple for the summer and returning for senior year! He is hoping to explore the city and do some weekend trips to New York State and Pennsylvania to do some fishing and hiking as well!
Sofia Khu ’24, a GRST and COL double major, will be interning for the literary journal The Perch. Afterwards she hopes to find work in journalism, and continue to work on her thesis novella which received High Honors.
Please note that the party will take place on Friday, April 1, 2022.
|Image: Joel Basman and Marie Leuenberger in Caged Birds|
|Oliver Rihs, Caged Birds (Switzerland/Germany, 2020, 119 min.) Barbara “Babs” Hug is a young radical lawyer fighting Switzerland’s antiquated prison system in the 1980s. She is tracked down by Walter Stürm, a Foucault-reading convict who has just managed to escape from prison – again. With the police closing in, Babs finds Walter temporary refuge with a militant organization, and takes him on as a client in hopes of using the Jailbreak King’s publicity to advance her cause. But the less Walter yields to her reasoning, the more Babs falls for his uncompromising idea of freedom. Based on a true story. Free streaming in the U.S. as part of our monthly German Movie Nights. Register to attend.|
Click HERE for more information and how to apply
Several of our GRST majors and minors have been living and studying in Germany this fall. I asked them to share some of their experiences with us. So far, I have received three letters that I would like to share with you. The first letter is from Evelyn Mesler ‘21, who majored in German Studies, Biology, and Data Analysis. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Infection Biology at the Universität zu Lübeck in Lübeck, Germany.
The second letter is from Jenna Lacey ’21. She majored in Government and minored in German Studies. Currently, she is studying Public Policy and Social Change at the University of Tübingen and has good tips for anyone who is thinking about studying in Germany.
There are many ways to go about spending a year or two in Germany after graduation. You might want to apply for a German Exchange scholarship (DAAD) like Evelyn Mesler ’21. If you are a graduate student at Wesleyan, you can also apply for a Baden-Württemberg Exchange scholarship to study and/or do research at one of the nine prestigious universities in Baden-Württemberg. If you are interested in one of these scholarships, please talk to my colleagues in the GRST department, Profs. Ulrich Plass, Martin Bäumel or me (Iris Bork-Goldfield). Another good option—but only for American citizens—to study, research or teach English (ESL) in Germany, is to apply for a Fulbright scholarship. There are also opportunities to teach ESL in Austria with a Fulbright scholarship (USTA).
The third letter is from Patrick Wolff ’21, who is currently living and studying in Göttingen. He received a Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange scholarship. This scholarship for Young Professionals (CBYX) is a fellowship funded by the German Bundestag and U.S. Department of State that annually provides 75 American and 75 German young professionals between the ages of 18½ and 24 with the opportunity to spend one year in each other’s countries: studying, interning, and living with hosts on a cultural immersion program.
I hope you enjoy their news!
Iris Bork-Goldfield (Adj. Professor of GRST)
Evelyn Mesler’s news from Lübeck
With the help of the German Studies department and particular support from Professor Krishna Winston, I was able to apply for a master’s scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, or DAAD) during the fall of my senior year at Wesleyan. The scholarship from the DAAD unlocked an amazing opportunity to study Infection Biology here in Germany.
As of writing this, I have been in Lübeck for almost two months, and each day feels like a dream. My master’s program is incredibly rigorous- in the first semester alone, I must complete seven classes (and I thought 5 Wesleyan classes was a full schedule: I now feel so naive). But the classes are taught by clinicians, diagnosticians, public health experts, and researchers studying diseases that I find incredibly fascinating, so I feel lucky to attend their lectures. There is a strong network of international students at my university, and I have been able to meet students from all over the world while we do activities like cooking, ice skating, and lantern making for St. Martin’s Day. Next weekend, I am travelling with our international group to Berlin.
The city of Lübeck feels as though it came right out of a storybook: narrow cobblestoned streets with small arches leading to courtyards filled with roses and ivy climbing up old brick buildings. The city itself is an island surrounded by canals, so on sunny days I often walk along the bank and watch rowers pass me by.
Now that Christmas is coming, the city is being transformed into a Weihnachts wonderland. On my street, evergreens line the sidewalk and tinsel, and large toys are suspended across the street from one house window to another. Tonight, is the grand opening of the Weihnachtsmarkt, so some colleagues and I are planning on going together and enjoying spiced Glühwein, Lebkuchen, and probably some bratwursts, too 🙂
I am so grateful to have made it to Germany, and I would never have accomplished this dream without the support and fantastic education I received from Wesleyan and the German Studies department, in particular. I hope to pay their generosity forward and would love to provide other students interested in studying in Germany with help and guidance in their search!
Jenna Lacey’s news from Tübingen
My program here at Tübingen is very research focused and takes a broadly comparative approach to public policy. I’ve been enjoying my classes and cohort so far and living in Germany has been really lovely. I’m soaking up as much of the good public transit as I can. I’ve visited a few castles, eaten Stockbrot, bread baked over a bonfire (like a marshmallow), and been surprised by a bus strike.
Tips for people thinking of studying in Germany
- Adjust your study habits: The way classes at German universities tend to work is you attend lectures, you might have to give a presentation at some point for a couple of ECTSs (European Credit Transfer System), and then you have an exam which determines your grade for the class. You might have smaller assignments, but these are usually just graded for completion and part of the requirement to get credit for actually attending and participating in lectures. You also don’t have midterms that force you to solidify your knowledge of the first half of the course, thus cutting down on the number of materials you have to study for your finals. So develop study habits that force you to do this sort of knowledge solidification: write out potential exam questions about that week’s material, get together with friends halfway through the semester and pretend you’re studying for a midterm, etc.
- Figure out as much of your general living affairs as you can prior to arriving in Germany. Apply for health insurance early, get a bank account set up early if you can, and if possible, it may be beneficial to apply for your residence permit before you arrive. This isn’t strictly necessary if, by virtue of your citizenship, you’re allowed to enter the country without a permit and then apply for one (this is the case for U.S. citizens), but it may take a lot of stress out of the first couple of months of living in Germany.
- Listen to native speech as much as possible. Watch Tagesschau, listen to podcasts (like WesGerman), watch videos on the Easy German YouTube channel. The German classes at Wes are excellent, but at the end of the day your professors are the only native speakers you have contact with on a regular basis. Listening comprehension is extremely important, whether your intended program is completely or partially in German, or you only need German for non-academic settings.
Patrick’s news from Göttingen
Hello! I’m Patrick Wolff (’21) and I’m a member of the 38th CBYX cohort. The 11-month fellowship stresses cultural exchange through three phases: language learning, a semester at a German university, and gaining work experience.
In the first two months I lived in Cologne to attend an intensive language course. Class was Monday-Friday from 9:00-1:00. During my time there I lived with a host family—an essential and highly recommended component of the program—for the purpose of full cultural immersion. In my free time I got to know the other 35 Americans from the program located there. Together we traveled to nearby cities by train and bike, visited museums and concerts, gathered for potluck dinners, played sports and games in the parks, and experienced Cologne’s abundant nightlife.
In October, I moved to my permanent placement in Göttingen, a smaller city in Lower Saxony. Since then, I have attended lectures on the topic of business management at the Georg-August-Universität and I’ve continued my language learning in an upper-level German course. I also volunteer at the kindergarten where my host mom works on days when I don’t have class. I have been fortunate to meet international students through the Erasmus Student Network and German students in my classes, at the Mensa, and in town. Visiting friends and other cities on the weekends is easy with my semester ticket, usually included in the (extremely low) university semester fees.
Currently I am on the search for internships in the Data Analysis and Consulting areas, as in February the semester will come to an end, and I will begin working in one or more positions until late June. Program members are encouraged to stay in their permanent placement cities for the internship phase, although relocation to other cities for work purposes is possible!
If you have any questions about the program, application, or life in Germany in general, I would love to connect! You can reach me here anytime firstname.lastname@example.org.