Mount Union Students Travel to Germany

March 26, 2013

University of Mount Union students enrolled in a faculty led travel seminar course traveled to three cities in Germany over spring break.

Dr. Mark Himmelein, professor of German at Mount Union, organized and led the trip. Nine students were enrolled in the course.

“The purpose of the trip was to give students, especially those who are not German majors, an exposure to Germany and German culture that is different from what popular culture tends to portray,” said Himmelein. “I think the image of Germany to many Americans is the Alps, Lederhosen, yodeling and people wearing folk costumes, but Germany is obviously much more than that.”

The group started off their trip off in Dresden where they visited several historical sites such as the recently restored Frauenkirche church and the historic city center. They also toured the hey also toured the ultra-high tech Volkswagen manufacturing plant, the Gläserne Manufaktur, or Transparent Factory, in English. Visitors can view the entire production process of VW’s luxury sedan, the Phaeton, and see the how robotics and skill craftsmanship are used to create each custom vehicle.

“What is interesting about Dresden is that the city is a combination of German history and Soviet Russia history,” said Mount Union senior Greg Djordjevic. “You can walk past buildings that are a few hundred years old and right next to them are block-style buildings that are typical Soviet Russia architecture.”

The next stop in the trip was to Lüneburg, home of Mount Union’s partner university Leuphana University. Junior Rachel Toth is studying abroad there for the semester and students were able to meet her in addition to other students of the university. Mount Union students gained insight to life as a student in Germany.

“Lüneburg is such a quaint, medieval town but there is a lot to do because the university has brought in new business,” said Mount Union senior Alicia Switzer. “I wish I was not graduating because I would seriously consider studying abroad here.”

Finally, the trip ended in the country’s capital, Berlin. Students were able to tour the Reichstag/Bundestag Parliament building, the Checkpoint Charlie Museum, the Marienkirche church and the Berliner Cathedral. Also included in the program were visits to the Holocaust Memorial, the Brandenburg Gate and Berlin’s famous boulevard, the Ku-damm. Students also had a private tour of the notorious East German secret police (Stasi) detention prison of  Hohenschönhausen. This camp was used first by the Soviets and then by the East German Stasi to compel order and to stifle dissent among East German citizens. The prison was closed after the fall of the Berlin Wall and is now run by former detainees as an educational center.

Himmelein has taken several trips with students before to Germany, Austria and Russia, but this was the first spring break program he has conducted to Germany. Himmelein hopes this course will be offered again in the future, perhaps to include other cities of Germany and Austria.

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