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New Fall Semester in Germany


Photo by Brieanah Gouveia

Article Written by Brieanah Gouveia


Roanoke College’s International Education Office will be offering a new study abroad opportunity to up to 15 students every fall semester, beginning in 2018. Spearheaded by history professors Rob Willingham and Michael Hakkenberg, the semester experience will take place in Leipzig, Germany.

According to the program description, in the first month students will take a German language course at the Herder Institute. Two other courses will be taught for the remaining three months by a Roanoke professor heading the trip, and another one or two by a local adjunct lecturer. These will count as standard Roanoke courses, equating to INQ classes, that do not require any major-specific prerequisites; thus, alleviating any trouble with transfer credits.

According to Willingham, the cost is the same as tuition and housing for a semester at Roanoke with an additional $3,000 program fee.

The motivation behind creating this program Willingham said, is that “we want everybody to have the chance to study internationally, but it can be very expensive, and for many students who would like to travel, the conversation stops there. The College has responded in part with a pair of faculty-led programs, the first currently running in the Yucatan, with the second in Germany to follow. These programs both offer students an entire semester abroad for less than the cost of a May Term.”

The city’s proximity to the birthplace of Martin Luther and Berlin (only a 90- minute train ride) made the location even more appealing. Willingham added that Leipzig is “big enough to get lost, and small enough to get home.” Both he and Hakkenberg have lived in the city and have taken students on May Term trips there in the past.

Erin Hannon, a history major who participated in Willingham and Hakkenberg’s May Term to Germany last year, said that “visiting Leipzig was an incredible experience. The city is rich in history, with amazing museums and monuments; yet, also has all the benefits of a modern city.”

According to the program description, “Leipzig is also a city where one can easily get around in English.” Willingham said that the region may appeal to students interested in topics ranging from history, art, and music, to business and economics.

The program is essentially a semester-long Intensive Learning course taught abroad.

“You’ll have one of our faculty around as a matter of course, as well as an onsite professional to help in times of emergency,” Willingham said. The aim is “to encourage some people who aren’t sure about going abroad by themselves to consider this trip. As always, though, young people, try not to break the local laws and get thrown into prison. We will come get you, but it might be a day.”

Other Roanoke faculty members involved in this project and who may lead the program in the future include Dana-Linn Whiteside, Andreea Mihalache-O’Keef, Daniel Sarabia and Wendy Larson-Harris.