DAAD Sponsored Trip – Germany Today

This is my account of the DAAD sponsored trip “Germany Today”

June 14 & 15, 2013 – Arrived in Berlin and took taxi to the hotel. Rested up and had dinner in the hotel after a brief walk in the neighborhood. Sunday spent the day walking around. Strolled down the Unter den Linden boulevard to the Brandenburg Gate (see photo below).

Then headed toward the Reichstag and further into Tiergarten Park (similar to Central Park in New York City). Walked down to the Victory Column (photo below) and then headed back to the hotel. After a short break I visited the Jewish Museum.

Those who had arrived by Sunday evening met for dinner. We were greeted by our wonderful hosts from DAAD, Miriam Hippchen and Ute Gaedke. Withe approximately 20 members of the group it was hard to remember everyone’s names, but I am learning.

In the next few days I will try to briefly summarize what we are learning. I hope what I write is correct, but as I write this entry which by the way is being written on a bus traveling to Bremen I realize that we have covered a lot already and my words are only representing a snapshot. I can say that the experience is already tremendously informative and I am learning much that I intend to bring back to FSU to share with faculty, staff, and students.

So here is a whirlwind synopsis.

June 16, 2013 – After a hearty European breakfast we walked a few blocks to the DAAD facilities in Berlin. We were welcomed by Dr. Anette Pieper, Director of the Northern Hemisphere Department of DAAD. She explained about the various DAAD programs and about the higher education system in Germany which consists of mostly public universities that include the Universitats and the Universities of Applied Sciences. 97% of the students attend these public institutions. We spent the morning and early afternoon learning more about DAAD programs and research and educational opportunities at several of the institutions in Berlin including Potsdam University and Humboldt University. We also learned about the role of the independent research institutions e.g. Max Planck. There are many opportunities for students and faculty from the US and Canada to attend programs at these German institutions and to collaborate in research. We learned about changes in the handling of graduate education, specifically the formation of graduate schools to better prepare students for careers upon completion of their doctorates. The German Research Foundation provides support for researchers and programs. We learned about joint research programs that promote the exchange of graduate students between Germany and North America. It was interesting to learn that no tuition is charged at universities in Germany. Even foreign students do not pay tuition. The budget of the institution comes from 2 major sources, the state and 3rd party funding e.g. the German Research Foundation or industry. Private fundraising which is so important in the US does not occur.

The day concluded early so we could rendezvous at the Reichstag (photo below) for a tour of the facility.

We learned about the German Parliament and system of government. At the end we went up to the top of the building and were treated to a wonderful view of the city. The day was not yet over. We headed to Il Punto for an excellent dinner of salad, pasta, ice cream, and conversation.

Back to the hotel for a good night of sleep.

June 18, 2013 – Another turn at breakfast, checkout, and a short bus ride to the Frie Universitat. We spent the morning learning about the international programs of the university, especially the establishment of strategic partnerships with various institutions across the globe. Like the previous day we learned about the opportunities for american students to take advantage of programs at the university. Frie Universitat is relatively young. It was established after the end of WW2 in 1948 largely with funds from the the US. The name signifies that the spirit of the institution is about freedom of enquiry and academic freedom.

Now we are on a 4.5 hour bus ride to Bremen. Looking forward to getting some rest.