My name is Ilka Birke and I am the German language assistant at Willamette University this year. I come from Münster which is located in the North-West of Germany. It is close to the Dutch border and to the Ruhr region which is an urban area including cities as Düsseldorf, Dortmund and Essen. Münster is said to be the cultural capital of the Westphalia region. It is best known as the location of the Anabaptist rebellion during the Protestant Reformation, as the site of the signing of the Treaty of Westphalia ending the Thirty Years’ War in 1648, and as the bicycle capital of Germany. Münster is a lively students city. Out of 270.000 there are about 50.000 students living in Münster and dominating the cityscape. The university is not a campus university but the different departments are distributed all over the city. The number of students, the historic center and bicycles as the main means of transportation create a lively and unique atmosphere in the city.
I have been studying German and English in the teaching program to become a primary school teacher. I will finish my Masters in the next year. After spending two fantastic semesters in Uppsala, Sweden from 2009 to 2010 as an exchange student and other travels within Europe, I felt like I wanted to explore more of the world. (Danger: You can become addicted to traveling and to the adventure of living abroad!) Before I will start working as a trainee teacher back home next year, I am very happy to gain experiences here in promoting my native language, being part of the WU community, meeting a bunch of nice people and seeing and learning more about this part of the world: beautiful Salem and the western states of the USA!
Spending this year at Willamette University is a great chance for me to learn more about my own culture and other cultures and thus to widen my horizon. I hope that you will profit from the intercultural exchange as well.
I am looking forward to meeting you! Feel free to contact me in person or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is Münster’s Prinzipalmarkt, one of the main streets within the city center. The fassades of the houses have been rebuilt after they were destroyed in the 2nd World War. In the background you can see the Lamberti Church which was built in 1375.
Münster – the Bicycle Capital. This picture was taken in the city center and it gives you an impression of how many people ride their bike in order to get from one place to another.