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With an extensive network of partner institutions on six continents, SU International is changing the lives of SU students and staff, giving them an international experience abroad and at home. One of those lucky to have travelled abroad is Prof Louis Jonker, Professor in Old Testament in the Faculty of Theology. The academic spent four months at the University of Leipzig, one of several partner institution in Germany. His stay was made possible through an Erasmus + teaching exchange, supported by the partnership with the University of Leipzig, as well as an Alexander von Humboldt ‘Wiederaufnahme’ scholarship. Here he recounts the experience:
“I had the privilege of spending four months at the University of Leipzig during June to September 2017. My host at the University was Prof Angelika Berlejung of the Old Testament section in the Faculty of Theology. I had the joy of living in the U of L guest apartments in Ritterstrasse 12, right on the Nikolai Square! I can truly witness that this was one of my most memorable stays at any university in the world. Not only did I have excellent teaching and lecturing experiences in the Old Testament Institute, but I also found that Leipzig is a wonderful location for research in my field of biblical studies.
“The Albertina Library is well-equipped with an abundance of literature, and is well-supported by the libraries of related specialization areas in Ancient Near Eastern studies. The facilities of the university are modern and very efficient, and the infrastructure in terms of Wi-Fi and computer support is excellent. I also had good opportunities to interact with colleagues in the field – both on a professional level and in social contact.
“To live in an apartment on Ritterstrasse 12 is super! Although the six flights of stairs to the apartment level - there is no lift in the building - might be a challenge to some, I enjoyed keeping fit by walking up the stairs. The facilities in the apartments are good and well-maintained - although I had to buy more wine glasses – due to the fact that I come from the middle of the South African wine region. The view onto the Nikolai church and square, with always-present street music entertainment, was great during the summer season. Everything needed in the city is only a few minutes by foot away. The city breathes culture with its many museum and music offerings in the opera house and Gewandhaus were just around the corner from the guest house! And the variety of good restaurants and pubs within the city centre and further away, were simply awesome. And to top it all, Leipzig is relatively affordable in comparison to some other German and European cities.
“It was also a big surprise to find out that Leipzig has extensive parks and forests, especially along the river and numerous canals. During the summer months, these provided wonderful opportunity for jogging, walking and cycling. And there are beautiful lakes nearby which can be reached on cycle, or by local transport. Although it was not really necessary for me to make use of the local transport due to the very central location of my apartment in Ritterstrasse 12, the transport system is well-developed and you can reach almost every part of the city in a few minutes. Even the airport is only about 15 minutes away with the S Bahn.
“Lastly, I would like to commend the International Office, under the leadership of Svend Poller and Anne Vorpagel, together with their efficient staff, for their hospitality. They, together with the staff managing the university guest houses, organised numerous social events during the summer months in order to meet other guests and locals. They understand the importance of embedding a guest’s research period into a social environment and support network. The fact that they value people and not only scholars meant a lot to me.
“I now know why the University of Leipzig is one of the preferred international partners of my institution, Stellenbosch University. May this relationship be strengthened in the future, and may it remain for many years to come.”