Class focuses on field trip

Drew Baumgartner

The course materials for German 290 were a bit unusual. Mixed in with the usual book list for volumes of German history and literature were guidebooks and plane tickets. The winter term course, called “Berlin: Experiencing a Great City,” featured both a classroom portion and a trip to Berlin which was held during spring break.
“The main source of inspiration [for the course] came from a guidebook of architectural walking tours of Berlin,” said associate professor Brent Peterson, chair of the German department and course instructor. “It struck me as the perfect way to organize a student trip, because we could not only see a lot of the city but each student would also be responsible for one of the tours.”
The student-led tours began shortly after breakfast each day and continued into the afternoon. “One of the students had a pedometer, and she clocked 85.61 miles during the trip,” said Peterson.
In addition to the walking tours, students were able to enjoy some of the other aspects of life in Berlin. “I was able to eat out every night and spend only $10-15 per meal,” said freshman German major Dieter Huneryager.
One of the students bought tickets over the Internet for most of the class to see a soccer match, and then led them to Berlin’s Olympic Stadium on the walking tour.
“The Berlin team even won the match,” said Peterson. “I don’t care about the game, but they navigated a major metropolis on their third day there.”
“Students had a chance to connect the course material with the city they studied, and they saw a lot of Berlin up close,” Peterson continued, “including a great deal which ordinary tourists would have missed.”
“I was overwhelmed by how many facets the city had,” commented Huneryager. “It was fascinating to see how the ‘blah’ communist architecture from decades ago melded with the modern architecture of gentrified Berlin.”
If you missed the class this time around, don’t fret-there are plans to offer it again in the 2007-2008 academic year. “I understand that some other language departments are thinking of similar courses,” added Peterson. “They like the idea of combining a trip with a course.