A recent 2014 Anholt-GfK Roper Nation Brands IndexSM study has ranked Germany as “best country” based on global public opinion. As an American citizen who grew up always hearing about how the United States was always “number one”, I was a little surprised when I heard this. In 2013, the annual NBISM study ranked the United States as the “best country” and Germany as number two with the US taking first place for the past five years. The NBISM study gauges the international opinions of fifty countries in terms of “exports, governance, culture, people, tourism and immigration/investment”, which all contribute to the national image of that country. The 2014 study involved a total of 20,125 interviews of individuals from twenty different countries.
I am not a citizen of Germany. I do not view the country as a native but rather as a student who has spent time studying abroad here while taking part in the experiences and traditions of the land. From what I have seen, the rise of Germany as a modern and advanced country has allowed it to compete on the world playing field. The country is being recognized as a leader in many areas such as technology and political stewardship throughout Europe and the world. The jump of Germany ahead of the US in its ranking as “best country” is due in part to its rise in “sports excellence” from the country’s recent victory in the 2014 FIFA World Cup Championship. In my opinion, soccer is a very important part of modern German culture. I went to a Bundesliga game last year and though it was not an international-level match, the crowd in the stadium had an intense energy that matched that of some American football games in the US. Overall, the German people are enthusiastic and fervent about soccer, which very much makes it a national sport and pastime. Granted, the athletic image of a country is only one of the many aspects that determine the overall national image, it can be seen as a reflection of strong associations between a national entity and the individuals of a country. A strong and stable nation has the ability and resources to excel in multiple areas such as sports and other competitions on the international scale.
This is my third time living in Germany and I somehow find myself coming back. Studying and living in the city of Bonn has been a major part of my college experience and they have been experiences that opened my eyes to a little more about how other people around the world live. I enjoy my days in Bonn and there are so many things I appreciate about living here. I love living with my host family, appreciating the charm of the city center, and viewing the natural beauty of the Rhineland. As each day passes, I feel like I fit in just a little bit more. Even with my American citizenship and patriotism for my home country, I believe that Germany has grown on me and Bonn even feels like my “second home”. From what I have experienced, Germany is a country that is very much ahead in terms of its environmentalism policies and overall lifestyle choices of the average citizen. The policies I have seen from charging for plastic bags at stores to mandatory separation of trash really promote the image of Germany to me as a country that is conscious of the state of its land and its future sustainability. Germans as a whole also appear to me to be more physically fit and healthier than Americans. To me, this is most likely attributed to differing lifestyle choices between the average German and the average American. As a student living in Germany, I feel that my lifestyle is different here as well. I have to walk more, I eat less processed foods, and I adjust to the bedtimes of my host family. Overall, these are improvements compared to the more “American” lifestyle I lead at home. Living with two different host families in Germany has shown me a little more about how the middle-class populace of the country lives and the similar motifs between families that define their lifestyles. There are differences between any two families but both of the German host families I have stayed with seem to lead comfortable, wholesome, and happy lives. My experiences in Germany have left me with no doubt that Germany is a great country to not only study in but to live in as well.
The primary contributor to the US’ drop in its NBISM rank is public opinion regarding the role of the US in global security and peace. In particular, people interviewed from Russia and Egypt gave vastly negative ratings in regard to their perceptions of “American commitment to global peace and security”. While it is important to include and consider the opinions of those who have them, it is also equally important to acknowledge the recent relations and interactions between the countries. Despite the US’ drop in the study, the results acknowledge that the US still leads in multiple areas such as “creativity, contemporary culture, and education”. Globalization in the 20th and 21st centuries has indisputability been influenced by the worldwide reach of the US in terms of its practices, society, and diplomacy. With the spread of US influence around the globe, there will naturally be nations that arise through global competition and the incorporation of both American and novel ideals.
I am a citizen of the United States. I am so grateful to have been born and raised there and it is a place I am proud to call my home. At the same time, I sometimes feel as if I have found another home in Germany. Though it is a nation in which I am not a citizen of and still have much to learn about, I have grown to care about it. No matter what country has been deemed to be ahead of the others, it is indisputable that there will always be aspects of every nation that need improvement and others that can serve as role models to other nations. As a citizen of the US, I believe it is important to acknowledge, especially with the spread of American ideals, the ability of other countries to progress and also proliferate their own international influences. There are numerous aspects of a nation that contribute to its national image and there will inevitably be changes, both small and large, with the progression of time and the outcomes of significant decisions. As an American citizen who loves both the United States and Germany, I look forward to observing how the two countries interact as they both stride ahead into the future.
Is there still Plague in Vienna?
Although the answer is obviously "no", the Texas A&M Biosciences students put aside reality for a few hours and took all preventative measures as they toured this ancient medical hub with their certified Plague doctor and tour guide, Dr. Schnabel. True to his character, this elusive guide made sure each student was properly immunized against the plague with the following three "tried-and-true" plague deterrents: a clove, some "urine" (which was actually the popular Austrian soda, Almdudler), and white vinegar.
As the students toured the city, they learned the history of medical development in Vienna and its contributions to the rest of the world, including the first mental hospital in Europe, an advanced medical school, and of course Sigmund Freud.
Major receives American students who spend their semester in Bonn
The American students, who followed the invitation to Bonn's City Hall, never got tired of looking at the beautiful building. “I have walked past it quite often, but it is great to finally see it from the inside”, says Alex Franco from California. Since 1993, the Akademie für Internationale Bildung (Academy for International Education), located at Adenauerallee, facilitates study abroad opportunities for foreign in Bonn. About 80 students arrived to Germany three weeks ago and are going to stay until mid-May. It’s time to welcome them officially to Bonn.
In her welcoming speech, Major Gabriele Klingmüller emphasized the good relation to the United States. She chose the small chapel in the American village in Plittersdorf, a district of Bonn, as an example, which was a gift from Bill Clinton to the city of Bonn. She named “Bonn's five pillars”: science, economy and culture, and Bonn’s profile as Federal City and City of the United Nations.
Almost 400 students visit Germany per year and study for one semester at the AIB. The 80 newcomers come from different universitie located in California, Texas and Pennsylvania, and are enrolled in study programs like Theater, Landscape Architecture or Visualization. “These are the people who want to work at Pixar Animation Studios”, says Kristin Vosbeck, program-coordinator at AIB since 2011. Usually professors from America join their students in coming to Germany and continue teaching here.
However, even though the daily classes are held in English, Fenja Wittneven-Welter, program-coordinator and German teacher at AIB since 2007, attaches great importance to German language acquisition. Students take a German class at the AIB and practice their German at home with their local host families. Welcoming host families are always wanted, says Ms. Vosbeck. “The only requirements are a spare room, openness and a hot meal per day. We are still looking for host families this summer in order to house students for the Parlamentarian Partnership Program (PPP). The PPP is a cooperation between the U.S. Congress and the German Bundestag, which gives young professionals the chance to experience 6 weeks in Bonn before pursuing a yearlong internship in the electoral district of the delegates responsible. Fenja Wittneven-Welter and Kristin Vosbeck stress the importance of a good support system. Vosbeck, who has been abroad several times herself, knows of the ups and downs one can experience while studying abroad. She enjoys accompanying her students into independence. Fenja Wittneven-Welter emphasizes how important cultural exchange is to overcome stereotypes and prejudices.
Every year the students say thank you for the hospitality they receive by performing a Theater play at the Marabu Theater and by running an AIB Charity Day in April where they support non-profit organizations
The original article was written in German and printed in the "General Anzeiger":
This showcase is based on various scenes from Chekhov’s, The Seagull. One of the most important goals for this Stanislavski workshop was for the students to learn about characterization, relationships, working with a partner, working as a tight ensemble, improving the actor’s imagination, and to understand how to perform Chekhov. This showcase is not about Russia, or Russians, or Russian life. The relationship between people is most important and most unique. When we speak about love, we are not thinking about nationality, religion, politics, but about the human condition. The experience of losing one’s love, is universal.
This showcase is about famous people who can’t find love, about simple people who are in love, and about unrequited love. The story is about estranged relationships between mother and son, father and daughter, and brother and sister, and about people with weak wills, that allow sin into their world. The most important human emotion is love, loving one’s parents, loving one’s paramour, loving one’s work, country, nature, and finding a way to ultimately love oneself. Love can give us the strength to improve ourselves, make us better human beings, and love can also kill us.
The Spring 2015 Science Program from Loyola Marymount University joined efforts with conservationists and a volunteer nature protector group to save endangered frogs in the Bonn Rein Erft area. Their Biostation project was to build artificial ponds in the Beuel region to allow for the surivial of the frog reproduction in that region. The holes of the pond were first dug out before applying a tarp layer and gravel to the hole. At the end of two very tiring days, they constructed 3 ponds, and restored an old pond! Many thanks to the Science group and the volunteers!