Modern Germany at AUBG

During my stay at AUBG I had the good fortune to participate in a class in Professor Stantcheva’s Modern Germany advanced language level course.  This particular unit was on the broader topic “money”, not just on the Euro as the predominant currency, but it also included discussions on the Swiss Frank, counterfeit money, virtual money, Old money (the Mark), and a critical piece on the “Euro as Teuro” (expensiveo!). Students had completed a homework fill- in- the- gap- assignment to prepare themselves for today’s topic by studying the relevant basic vocabulary. This exercise then also served as a nice warm-up for the class. In anticipation of the small texts to be read and their discussion, Prof. S. provided students with the respective text headings and had students brainstorm ideas about what these texts might be about specifically. This was a great way to engage students with the materials and vocabulary. Something was now at stake when Diana had her students read these short texts and then assess whether their assumptions were met or not. It turned out that students’ guesses were pretty right on in most cases, but there were a few surprises as well (Falsches Geld? Wrong money?). Students also expanded their Wortschatz, their word treasure, significantly during this exercise and refreshed some historic facts about European currencies nearly seamlessly on the side. The unit ended with an engaging discussion question: What do you believe our currency will look like in the future? to which students contributed with very interesting comments and ideas.

The class ended with a student presentation on the German Education system in preparation of the next class meeting. This PPT presentation by Economic and Business major senior Nataliya S. led to an interesting discussion on what makes Germany (as well as Austria and Switzerland) attractive to students from East-European countries.  Primarily students mentioned the high quality of education, the fact that it’s affordable and Germany as a premier economic power. Interesting to me was the impression that students understood themselves primarily as Europeans and less so as being of a specific nationality.All students in the class were multi-lingual with German being a third or forth language in their linguistic repertoire, a fact that was echoed not without a tinge of envy by our Denison students in their video conference assessment of our synchronously connected courses the previous Wednesday.

Students in this course are pursuing majors in Economics and Business Administration, Political Science, European Studies, and Computer Science, which also reflects the university’s main areas of study. Compared to Denison U, AUBG is much more of a professionally focused school than a liberal arts college in the classic sense. For example, despite the fact that AUBG is an American college in Eastern Europe where English is not necessarily the second but often the third language that students speak, the college does not offer an English major, not even a minor. Their American Studies major appears to be more of a complement to such areas of inquiry as Economics or Political Science than the study of American culture in a more humanistic sense. Similarly, despite the strong interest in all things German, the course offerings do not go beyond German language courses when it is clear that many students are keenly interested in at least a minor. Nor are there any other language courses offered that go beyond the basics.Perhaps one can say in summary that the humanities are certainly not as strongly represented as one would expect in a more typical liberal arts college.

Besides being multi-lingual and multi-cultural, students here are hard-working and dedicated to their studies. They are highly engaged, inquisitive, and very interested in learning about other cultures and  their practices. I very much enjoyed interacting with these very impressive young people.

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