Ten Days but Experience Worth a Lifetime – Samantha Sproviero (2022)

Ten Days but Experience Worth a Lifetime

It was such a privilege to spend ten days in Erfurt this summer and participate in the Colloquium of North American History at Uni Erfurt. In particular, I greatly enjoyed the opportunity to sit in on classes at the university and spend time with other graduate students. Dr. Krämer’s class on Body History was a new topic for me and I know it’s something I will continue to think about in the future. We had a particularly engaging discussion about Hortense J. Spillers’ “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe: An American Grammar Book” in Dr. Gibson’s class on Gender History, Black Feminist, and Womanist Theory. It was incredible to gain an international perspective on such a seminal piece.

Of course, the academic highlight of the trip was meeting the other members of the Colloquium of North American History, reading their work, and receiving their feedback. The “workshop” style of the colloquium was comfortable and collegiate. I enjoyed providing feedback and I gained some incredible insight on my paper, “Dressed Like an Amazon: Gender and Representations of Queen Louise of Prussia in the French Media During the Napoleonic Wars.” I look forward to revising it and hope to continue to have the feedback from such a supportive group of scholars as I continue to pursue my Ph.D.

As a student of German history, I particularly enjoyed learning more about Erfurt’s history during our guided tour with Mr. Reiner Prass. As we learned, much of Erfurt was spared during the war, allowing a rare glimpse into original architecture and designs. Although there are many obvious beauties to behold—it’s impossible to miss the Erfurter Dom or Krämerbrücke—our tour revealed hidden historical gems and local Biergärten and Cafés. By the end of my relatively short stay, I felt like more than just a tourist. I already miss my little local café where I enjoyed a coffee while preparing for the colloquium.   

Erfurt also proved to be a wonderful place to study the German language. I had previously studied in Berlin and although it will always have a special place in my heart, the fast pace of the city life leaves little time for practice—or mistakes. Often, even when asking a question or ordering food, Berliners hear my accent and immediately switch to English. In Erfurt, I found people were extremely patient and understanding with my German-in-progress. It was rare that someone would immediately switch to English and by the end of the stay, I felt as though my German had improved. I hope to have the opportunity to visit again and continue to improve!

Ten Days but Experience Worth a Lifetime by Samantha Sproviero