Deutschland 83/Berlin 16 – students to get insiders’ view of German capital
A group studying German at Swansea University are to get an insider’s perspective on Berlin, one of the world’s most vibrant and fascinating cities, thanks to a successful bid for German government funding to support a study visit.
400 x 527The city is not only the German capital, but one of the main focal points for the entire continent. Its front-line role in the Cold War is currently in the spotlight once again thanks to the success of Channel 4’s spy series Deutschland 83. Yet this is just one of the chapters in its long and extraordinary history.
As well as visiting some of the well-known sites, from the site of the Berlin Wall to the Brandenburg Gate, the students will also be visiting people and places which are not on the usual tourist trail, from immigrant communities to street artists.
They’ll be meeting Berliners from different walks of life and cultural backgrounds, which will give them the perfect opportunity to improve their German language skills. The aim is to bring alive the language, culture and history of the city, giving students a real insider’s perspective on Berlin past and present.
Picture: students on the last trip visiting a remaining section of the Berlin Wall
The study trip has been organised by German lecturer Christiane Günther, who submitted a successful bid to the DAAD, the cultural arm of the German government, which will cover much of the cost of the trip, making it affordable for students.
Christiane, who led a similar trip in 2013, and who has also arranged public open days and other events for her students, won a University award for excellence in teaching in 2014.
Watch: Trailer for Channel 4’s hit series Deutschland 83, largely set in Cold War Berlin
The Berlin study visit includes:
- bike tour along the remains of the Berlin Wall
- guided tour through the Jewish Museum
- alternative sightseeing tour on street art and a workshop
- discussion with students with different ethnic backgrounds
- school visit with English language workshop for students
- visit to the immigration museum in Kreuzberg
- Deutsche Welle TV and radio station guided tour
- tolerance day including panel discussions about Jews and Gays & Lesbians in Berlin
- talks to a representative of an Anti-Violence Association
- theatre visit to see a play by Brecht
- visit to the University of Potsdam
Christiane Günther explained:
“The theme of the study trip is ‘Intercultural encounters’, as we will meet representatives from many different groups in Berlin. The study trip will bring the culture and the history of German alive. Students will have a very authentic experience and they will be able to use their German on a daily basis.
It will hopefully give students a real understanding of one of Europe’s most important and fascinating cities”.
400 x 609Picture: Christiane Günther, who organised the study trips, pictured on receiving her Swansea University award for Excellence in Teaching, summer graduation, July 2014.
Alice Mercer, who took part in the 2013 visit, recalls in her report on the trip how she and her fellow students had “an experience we’d never forget”:
“We knew that this wouldn’t be your average trip, but we never could have prepared ourselves for such an intense experience. The ‘Alternative Sightseeing Tour’ allowed us to see an exciting glimpse of the real Berlin, beyond the typical tourist attractions.
‘It’s nice to gain that insider’s perspective,’ noted Louise Blackwell, ‘For me, Kreuzberg defines the essence of Berlin.’ Being able to see the graffiti-smothered Berlin Wall up close enough to touch it was surreal.
There were many memorable highlights of the trip including a visit to the Reichstag, the Deutsche Welle media office and the GDR Museum.
We had an evening speaking with Jewish Israeli students about culture and Berlin, complemented by delicious bowls of hummus and olives.
“We were really lucky to have had this opportunity” – Rebecca Hand
Mema Nackasha described the discussions we had as ‘really enlightening’ and the day ended on a very upbeat note after four people spontaneously sang (in various languages) for us.
On Thursday we visited a school in Potsdam where we gave a lesson on Swansea and the Welsh language. TEFL student Ian Moore reflected on this: ‘The lesson went really well. I hope that they now have a bit of knowledge about Wales.’
The next night we saw an improvised ‘Gorilla’ comedy show. We also enjoyed a Turkish cultural tour of Kreuzberg, and Peter Pan at the Berliner Ensemble theatre. ‘It was nice to try Turkish food,’ said Gina Hughes.
‘I’ve become more confident, more willing to talk to people in German,’ enthused Rebecca Hand, ‘We were really lucky to have had this opportunity.’
We left Berlin buzzing and knew that it would be an experience we’d never forget. I intend to use my experiences from this trip to help support my final year cultural coursework. Overall the trip was a brilliant success.”
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