Wabash Blogs Immersion 2009: Politics/Economics of the EU

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Final Thoughts...

Willie Matis '10 - FRIDAY THE 13TH IN FRANKFURT GERMANY!! Today we went to the German Bundesbank and the Money Museum. The man we listened today had a lot of information on the workings of the European Monetary Union. He had about 60 slides of information to be exact. He kept us thinking when he was talking about targeting the interest rate done by the European Central Bank, and we grilled him pretty hard. One benefit from this trip, I feel, is that many of us learned how to further explain ourselves by clarifying our questions to the speakers who may not understand fully what we are trying to say in our American language. The Money Museum was very interesting and even included a couple games that allowed us to become the European Central Bank. Those people have it hard because I did one thing wrong, increasing the money supply, and the economy crashed. They wrote me a letter and told me to enjoy my retirement. The museum also showed all of the different types of currency around the world and a history video about the hyperinflation in Germany. Did you know that around 1920 it cost 5 BILLION Deutsch Marks for a loaf of bread?? That is crazy! But after the museum a group of us went to the Jewish Memorial wall that contains the 11,000 names of the Jewish citizens of Frankfurt that were killed in the Holocaust. Annaleisa Frank was among those on the wall. That was a very powerful sight. After all of the museum activities, all of us students and Professor Hollander went to a German restaurant where you sit on benches and have little to no personal space. Engrossed in the German experience about half of us, including me, enjoyed the MOST FABULOUS HAM HOCK ON EARTH!! This piece of meat was pig knuckle and just melted in your mouth. It was the most delicious piece of meat I have had EVER. It was even better than the T-Bone Steak that I accidentally paid 45 EURO for earlier in Belgium haha. I am very glad I went on this trip and will not only remember it but also tell many stories about it to my grandchildren, hopefully my great-grandchildren. This was an experience through Wabash that tops Freshman Tutorial, C&T, and I expect it to be better than Comps. I am ready for America and my own bed though!! Thanks to everyone who made this possible, it is GREATLY appreciated.

Matthew Meyer '12 - Sitting 30,000 feet above the United States on the last leg of our journey home, I finally have a chance to reflect on the experiences of the last week I have spent in Europe. First, I would like to thank all of those who made this trip possible. I speak on behalf of the class when I say we are incredibly thankful for this opportunity. Also, airline peanuts are delicious. If we want to be metaphorical, one could say that the trip was kind of like a bag of Delta Airlines Peanuts: it’s awesome, but just enough to give you a taste which leaves you craving for more. The last few days I have tried Ethiopian Cuisine, Ham Hock, Horse Steak (one of the best steaks I have ever had), and genuine Belgian Waffles. We walked cobblestone streets that were constructed hundreds of years ago and were received at the European Commission in the same room the Commission does its business. I absorbed as much information from our meetings with EU representatives as I did from our textbooks during the whole first half of the semester. I’m very glad I got the opportunity to learn so much more about the EU, but I think the most important part of this immersion trip was experiencing the culture. I met a nanny from Sweden working in Brussels, several interesting guys in Frankfurt who loved German rap and shaved heads, and who will forget the Bradford University nursing students? Or the girl working multiple bartender jobs to pay her way through college? I think that it will be the conversations with those people, or with others from Australia, the United Kingdom and Turkey that I will remember even after I forget the meaning of Beta Convergence. I cannot wait for another chance to travel through Europe and once again, thank you to those who made this one possible.

 Victor Meng '10 - Today is the last day that we stay in Europe, and most people woke up at eight in order to get some nice and healthy continental breakfast in the hostel. At the breakfast, we sat in groups and talked about what we did last night: some people went to watch an opera and some people went to a traditional German restaurant to have a taste of Frankfurt’s famous apple wine.

After breakfast, I went to Stadel Museum with Stanley, because we had a free morning. Stadel Museum has a world-class collection of paintings by artists from the Renaissance to the 20th century, including Botticelli, Durer, Van Eyck, Rubens, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Cezanne and Renoir; moreover, we were happen to see a special exhibition about Michelangelo’s art works. By spending the entire morning in the museum, I gained extensive arts knowledge, which is the first hand experience additive to Wabash’s liberal arts education.

At noon, I had traditional Frankfurt sausage for lunch, and it tastes much better than American sausage. Afterwards, we went to Deutsche Bundesbank for a lecture and a visit to the “money museum”. In Bundesbank, an insider gave us a general talk about European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), and we had a very interactive discussion with the insider about current financial crisis. In details, the insider told us the advantages and disadvantages of the EMU, such as no exchange rate risk (advantage) and conflict between common monetary policy and national economic policy (disadvantage), and these confirm what we learned from classes.

The last thing of this trip was to visit the “money museum” at Bundesbank. Through seeing real money from all around the world over different periods, we experienced the history and development of modern monetary system. In addition, we had chances to use computers to simulate the decision-making processes of being the president of the EMC, and this game attracted all of us to try and got a deeper understanding of macroeconomics.

For dinner, we, all 18 students, went to a Germany restaurant with Prof. Hollander; we tasted the famous German pork shoulder with pickled cabbage. Then, we came back to the hostel and got packed, and we are waiting for to leave for Crawfordsville tomorrow. All of us think that it is a great trip ever.

Top Right: Willie "Mad Dog" Matis manages the fiscal policy of a nation via a simulation at the Bundesbank Money Museum.

Left: Matt Meyer '12 and Seth Flater '10 play the same simulation as Matis.

Bottom Right: The 2009 EU Group takes a final picture at the Bundesbank Money Museum.