Partaking in Universität Hamburg’s Global Modernisms summer school over the past month has been a truly eye opening experience. Let me break it down into a few bite-sized chunks.
The Summer School
Partaking in a summer school in both a subject and topic I knew very little, if anything about, was a little daunting to start (I am a film student and the courses focused mainly on modernist Literature). Yet as I was introduced to all my course-mates it became clear that we were from all different backgrounds, levels of study and nations. Not only was this diversity of study and experience welcome but it truly enriched the entire experience, especially as the course focuses on many different global perspectives on modernism–many of which we were nationals. Overall the course introduced a wide range of topics and concerns on the greater concept of modernism, employing heads in the field from all over the globe (Germany, Australia, UK, China). And, furthermore, all the topics which arose are wholly applicable to all forms of modernism, ranging between most art forms and many everyday interactions.
Universität Hamburg couldn’t have been more accommodating, welcoming us with open arms and baring gifts! We originally went through a number of cultural talks and German language courses (for the first week) before beginning our specific summer schools–there were three summer school courses happening in parallel. Beyond this initial week the international team set up a load of activities including: trips to Berlin and Lubeck, canoeing down the river Elbe (located in Hamburg), and a number of parties to celebrate our arrival and departures. The team was hugely warm, providing a wealth of information, suggestions and support throughout the stay.
Hamburg was a wonderful city in which to spend the month of July, with warm but varied weather I explored most of the city, from it’s vibrant and hip corners (Sternschanze) and wealthy town centre to the very edges of the Hamburg region in trips to the harrowing Concentration Camp memorial, and wildlife park. Such trips and exploration was perfectly facilitated and encouraged by the free public transport pass provided by the university. Furthermore the wealth of foods and cultural activities offered within the city were vast (and rather unexpected as it isn’t the capital!). Galleries were packed with noteworthy art, many concerts and clubs provided nighttime entertainment, cinemas showed films (if rarely) in English, and there were many unique activities (a personal favourite being Dialogue in the Dark–an experience of being guided around dark environments by a Blind individual). The city is both warm and vibrant, offering a lot of chances to explore, relax, and enjoy a month living there. Furthermore, compared to many English cities it is rather cost effective!
My Summer School in Hamburg was a perfect note to end my formal education with. It provided many unique experiences, new academic concepts but, most importantly, it broadened my world-view deepening my understanding of European lifestyles (seeming, especially these days, far more appealing than those in the UK!). This understanding, facilitated by generous grants from both University of Southampton and Universität Hamburg, is a truly priceless discovery which will continue to shape me and my understanding of the world I inhabit for years to come.
Ultimately, if you have the opportunity to head on a similar summer school just go for it! Beyond any monetary cost it will provide memories, experiences and knowledge which you may never get the chance to form ever again.