“What the heck is a Core Course Week?” —me, approximately nine months ago when I was accepted into DIS and started aggressively stalking my syllabus to learn everything possible about my core course. So, for past me and any future you’s, here’s Core Course Week in a nutshell: one week, two days in Copenhagen, three days in Western Denmark or a neighboring country, no classes other than your core course, lectures and site visits on related topics, lots of bonding time with said core course.
My core course, Terrorism & Counter-Terrorism from a European Perspective, spend the past three days in Hamburg, Germany, for the first part of our core course week. Check back in a few days for posts about the second half of our Core Course Week and some of the most interesting things I learned, but for now here’s a quick recap of what we did every day as we explored a new country and new city!
Monday | We woke up bright and early on Monday morning and headed to the bus—a bus and ferry ride later and we’d arrived in Hamburg and at our hostel for the next few days. We had a little bit of free time, which naturally we spent finding a restaurant. I ate a cheese-covered pretzel because honestly, did you expect me to go to Germany and not immediately find the closest pretzel? We then took a walking tour of St. Pauli, a neighborhood within Hamburg that’s known for being a left-wing area and has been a site of protests and demonstrations. Our tour guide, a local of the area, also spoke about the recent G20 summit in Hamburg, which was met with intense protests from the neighborhood and many of its inhabitants. Given the focus of my study abroad experience last summer, I also found the section of the tour focused on the recent gentrification of certain areas of St. Pauli fascinating.
Tuesday | Tuesday was a whirlwind—a fascinating, emotionally draining, important day. We started our day with a lecture and discussion with Karl-Heinz Dellwo, a former member of the German left-wing Red Army Faction. We discussed the connections between the past and the present and the current political climate of both Germany and the US. We then headed to Neuengamme Concentration Camp just outside of Hamburg. As we learned on our tour, it was considered a work camp, not an extermination camp—though at least 50% of the prisoners there died as a result of the work. One of the main buildings has been transformed into a museum, highlighting stories and experiences from the people once held captive there.
Wednesday | Spoiler alert: we ended up cutting our last day in Hamburg short because of a huge storm about to blow across the entirety of Denmark and northern Germany and our bus driver didn’t want to get caught on the German side of the ferry when it stopped running. Which it did. After my core course had gotten across and my roommate’s had not. (Don’t worry, she made it back eventually…at 3:30am) We started our day with a lecture from Erwin Höwe, the assistant lead of the Analyst department of the German intelligence service in Hamburg, or the Landesamt für Verfassungsschutz Hamburg. My autocorrect reeeeeally fought me on that one just now! His perspective was definitely different than the perspectives we’d heard from the previous two days—a reminder of how critical it is to gain viewpoints from different angles to more completely understand a problem and create solutions. After a delicious lunch (I ate Southern soul food—complete with my one true love, grits—in Hamburg and I’ve never been happier) and a less-than-smooth ferry ride back, we made it back to Copenhagen Central Station and after basically six days away (weekend post coming soon!), I made it back holm sweet holm!
Check back tomorrow for a recap of the last two days of my core course week!