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Entries in 2009 (3)


July by Holly Rud

London for the first week with Matt was a great way to ease into being on my own. Homesickness was never a problem since I had someone traveling with me initially and so when I got to Dublin, I was able to get right to work! At first things were slow, but I noticed how much easier it was to find more information when I used Google Ireland. More relevant articles and websites came up. I found some great research articles that will be very helpful in my paper and I also was able to get into contact with the person that did the research. Unfortunately, he won’t be able to meet with me but he said he would be willing to help me in any other way possible!

When I haven’t been researching, I’ve been trying to see as much of Ireland as I can. Dublin is a great city and everyone is very friendly! The friends I have made while being here will last a lifetime. I feel like I’ve really become immersed in the culture and have gotten to experience Ireland in a way that can only happen when one stops being a tourist and really starts to live in the country. The roommates in my apartment are very friendly and from many diverse places. There is Naga from India, Marc from Holland and Marcus from Sweden. And then Morgen, who I’ve really gotten to be great friends with! She’s from Seattle. We have done a lot of traveling together and have had some great experiences. Just recently, we went up to Belfast and met with an acquaintance that a mutual friend put me in contact with. It was great experiencing Belfast with someone that lives there. We saw the Giant’s Causeway and did a Black Taxi tour of the IRA and UDA areas.

With July coming to an end, researching is going well. It does get a bit frustrating at times with people on their long holidays but I’m confident that August will be a productive month!


Arrival By Christine Parcells

I arrived in Berlin on a dreary Saturday night. I was less than thrilled to see it pouring down rain as I stepped off the plane, although thankfully, it stopped by the time I got outside.  It was very easy to get myself to the homestay in West Berlin that I had arranged through the German classes I would be taking. Graciously, the host provided me with a spread of food to choose from immediately, as all stores were closed. That first night, and the following, I think I must have slept 12 hours each as jet lag took its toll. 

I had two days to wander around Berlin before my German classes started. I don’t think I have been that silent in quite some time, but it was nice to take everything in and decompress before getting started on my project and class. I revisited some of the sites I had seen in a previous trips to Berlin. This time, I was able to see them in sunshine.  I had visited Berlin in April two years earlier and it was very cold and cloudy. Unfortunately, the warm weather has not lasted in Berlin and we have had one cold day after the next this past week, with scattered rain throughout. Cold weather is not the most conducive for wandering around and getting a feel for the city, but I had preparation to do before my first interviews that kept me inside part of the time anyways. 

By Wednesday, I had my first interview with a representative with the DAAD (German Exchange Service) at a striking square in the heart of Berlin. In this interview I learned the foundational aspects of German education and the prime motivations for this integral organization of Germany’s international education system. Thankfully, he provided me with several documents filled with facts and figures of German and international student mobility within Germany. 

Thursday followed with an interview at Free University with an assistant dean for international exchanges. As if it dropped out of the sky, Mr. Schepker provided me with a document that answered exactly some of the questions I had been planning to ask! It is a brand new report from the DAAD; the one drawback—it was in German and my German skills are far from being competent enough for understanding such a document. Thanks to the internet, there are various language tools at my disposal for translating the statistics and survey results. 

Next week: an interview at an Art university and a resident director of an American study abroad program with some more sightseeing and writing in between. 


SPAN European Union 2009: A Preparation by Patrick G. Wilz May 13 2009

It would be an understatement to write-off these past few months of preparation for the SPAN program as a “new experience” or “eye-opening.” It has been far more than platitudes can or should describe. This is mostly due to the fact that I have not yet tasted the meat of the program’s offerings, though the mounting excitement for this summer’s research has engendered in me a growing hunger and anticipation for the experiences (and work) that lie ahead.

Interesting is is how I now reflect only upon the preparation of my industry, having little to show, at least in the academic sense, for the past several months of work. But, come to think of it, the personal connections with former and fellow SPANners has been worth it all. The enthusiasm for scholasticism, objective analysis and research, has been an euphoric atmosphere for someone who clings dearly to the same interests. After four years of experience at the University of Minnesota, it causes more than slight chagrin to report on our campus’ rather spotty appreciation for things academic. Most of my conversations with former classmates have focused on skipping lecture or their general anticipation for their college experience to end. I would feel hesitant to judge these people f they themselves did not so eagerly dismiss education and quality for personal improvement so flippantly. Some refuse to see the forest for its trees.

Thankfully, no, refreshingly, I have enjoyed the exact opposite from the SPAN program. What a delight. If I could have spent only five minutes updating my understanding of the contemporary political of social environments in Albania, Turkey or Cyprus, I would have been more than content and, more importantly, informed. On the contrary these conversations have been exhaustive and inspiring. It has been a pleasure surrounding myself with able, intelligent and curious students who have their own expertise and interests. I’ve learned quite a bit from them already, and plan exponential returns as the summer research commences. This experience would have been difficult without SPAN and its wonderful ability to bring ambitious students together.