The fall 2000 semester marked the beginning of the new exchange program between MU and the Friedrich-Schiller-Universität (FSU) in Jena (pronounced YAY-nah), Germany. So far we have welcomed sixteen students from Jena for a semester on the Mansfield campus. Several of them stayed on for another semester, one even completing a degree at MU. The students from Germany typically have a business-related major and come to MU through the innovative Intercultural Business Communication program at the FSU. They have been a uniformly positive presence on campus and a wonderful enrichment to the university and their fellow students as well as students of German language and culture.
Mansfield students go to Germany during Jena's "summer semester," which runs from late March to July. So far, a dozen Mansfield students have taken advantage of the marvelous opportunity to study in Jena. Since 2005 several students have chosen to spend a whole year in Germany on the exchange.
MU students should have a minimum of four semesters' German language study or the equivalent skill level before they participate in the exchange. Courses and credits will transfer to MU, and students are eligible for their usual financial aid. In addition, study abroad scholarships are available to help students cover the cost of the international flight and some other expenses. Students pay tuition and fees to Mansfield as usual. They are exempt from tuition and fees in Jena and pay only room and board plus a local transportation and activities fee in Germany. Students are also highly encouraged to take out the very inexpensive local health insurance policy, which covers most costs directly and without reimbursement hassles. Thanks to generous subsidies from the German government to students, room and food costs are actually considerably lower than at Mansfield. That means a semester in Jena will typically cost about the same as a semester on campus at MU—probably even less! There are courses available in Jena that are specifically designed for foreigners with limited German skills. However, students with excellent German are free to take any course they like at the FSU.
Jena and nearby Weimar are historically and culturally significant for the large number of great minds that lived and worked there. Goethe, Schiller, Fichte, Hegel, Feuerbach, Schelling, Hufeland, Doebereiner and the circle of early romantics with Tieck, the Schlegel brothers and many others are among this distinguished crowd. Jena is first mentioned in 1236 as a town and in 1986 celebrated its 750th anniversary. The city has been known for centuries for its precision optical industry, founded by Zeiss, and boasts the world's first planetarium. It remains one of Germany's high-tech centers and is an important research hub.
The natural beauty of Thuringia, the state in which Jena is located, and adjacent Saxony (including Dresden and Leipzig) is reminiscent of Northcentral Pennsylvania and affords splendid recreational and sightseeing opportunities. Thuringia (Thüringen) and Saxony (Sachsen) are two of the former East German states, offering students a fascinating glimpse into an area of the world not readily accessible until the fall of the Berlin wall and reunification of Germany in 1989-1990. In the 20 years since the reunification Eastern Germany has seen rapid infrastructure rebuilding and a general redevelopment of industry, making it one of the more attractive regions to investors in the 21st century.
If you would like more information about the Jena exchange, contact Dr. Bradley Holtman - phone (570) 662-4596. You can also visit the FSU's English-language web page, where you can follow many other links to get information about the city and surrounding area.
Bradley Holtman, Ph.D.
Professor of German
Director, MU/FSU-Jena Exchange Program
Dept. of English & Modern Languages
G05B Belknap Hall
Mansfield, PA 16933