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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Marquette Celebrates 25 Years of German Exchange Program with Phillipps-Universität

This is a partnered exchange program with five Marquette students currently enrolled for a semester abroad in Marburg. 
Photo by Courtesy of Kevin Rich
2024 marks 25 years of the German Exchange Program.

Marquette University is celebrating its 25th year of its partnership with the Phillipps-Universität in Marburg, Germany. This is a partnered exchange program with five Marquette students currently enrolled for a semester abroad in Marburg. 

As well as being partners through both universities, Wisconsin and Hesse have the oldest sister-state relationship between the United States and a German federal state. Marburg is the university town that lies in the state of Hesse. 

 The program encourages students to take courses in all areas of study and academia, not just German, while learning about German culture and allowing students to immerse themselves in new experiences. 

Jenny Watson, associate professor of German studies at Marquette, said that the program can be eye-opening for students and faculty who participate.

“The thing with any program abroad if it’s immersive and long enough is that students not only learn a great deal about the country, culture, people and language, they also gain a different perspective on their own country, culture and language. They also see how university works in a different country,” Watson said. 

Watson said that her personal connection to Germany has a lot to do with her friends, the history and the art scene. 

“German friends are lasting friends, but it’s more than that. I love taking students to Berlin to experience one of the most vibrant cities in the world, to see German history up close, to experience the art scene, to meet ‘real’ Germans and get to know their perspective on the world,” Watson said. 

From an accounting perspective, Dr. Kevin Rich, chair and professor of accounting, said that this program can also help prepare students for an increasingly global business environment. 

Our students take a course in International Corporate Governance (where they learn a lot about the regulatory differences in Europe vs. the US) and visit both a large public accounting firm office and the European Central Bank in Frankfurt,” Rich said. “The course is taught by Professor Sascha Mölls, who leads an accomplished research group in Marburg.”

Rich added that this program is a great chance to expose and teach students skills needed in the business world.  

“This is a great chance to expose them to some of these issues in a fun environment that expands their horizons. We also use the study tour as an opportunity to get our undergraduate and graduate students to work together since they both participate,” Rich said.

Michael Koch has been teaching German at Marquette for over nine years and serves as the Vice Treasurer of the Hessen-Wisconsin Society, a board member of the Goethe House Wisconsin and the board of the DSSV (Wisconsin German Language and School Society).

“It is another testament to the importance of each country to the other over the centuries: political and economic ties, mutual cultural influences, and simply friendships,” Koch said. “It is a natural fit for Marquette in Milwaukee to have the Philipps-Universität in Marburg as our partner with the sister-state arrangement between Wisconsin and Hessen.”

Koch said that he encourages every student to study abroad at least once throughout their college experience. 

“Students come back to the United States with their horizons blown wide open. Their German language skills improve in leaps and bounds,” Koch said. “Also, their global competence benefits greatly in ways that cannot be quantified, which is very attractive to employers.”

Koch added that while speaking to anyone about their college experience, they will say that studying abroad was the best part. If they did not end up studying abroad, they will usually say that their biggest regret is not studying abroad.

“Students’ enthusiasm and excitement about the experiences, which they only could have had thanks to the study abroad programs, are gratifying,” Koch said.  “They learn so much about European customs, food, history, art, literature, architecture, and culture first-hand and are exposed to so many different ‘foreign’ viewpoints and value systems.”

Catherine Fink, a senior in the College of Communication, is currently abroad in Marburg at the Phillips-Universität. Fink said the flexibility in her schedule allowed her to choose any classes she wanted throughout her time in Germany for the semester. 

“For the first six weeks I was in extensive German language courses with people from all over the world as this was not just for students but for immigrants who needed to learn or better their German skills,” Fink said.

Fink is bilingual (German and English) and said she wanted to take the semester to immerse herself in all things German.

“It is a fairy tale city, literally. The city looks just like what you would imagine an old German city to look like, its most famous students were the brothers Grimm,” Fink said. “The more we learn about other people and countries, the more we can as individuals and as a country be better at understanding and solving issues.”

This story was written by Sofía Cortés. She can be reached at [email protected]

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Sofía Cortés
Sofía Cortés, Assistant Arts & Entertainment Editor
Sofía Cortés is the assistant editor for Arts & Entertainment. She is a junior majoring in journalism and with a writing intensive minor. Sofia is from Puerto Rico and outside of the Wire she enjoys reading, writing poetry, drawing and listening to music

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