Event of the month: Homecoming 2019
Last weekend was that time of the year again at Jacobs University – the one when the once students at Jacobs return to their university to reconnect with one another and establish new connections with current students. It was Alumni Homecoming 2019.
Hearing their excited nostalgic voices catching up with each other’s lives after all this time, Jacobs Alumni were clearly happy to come back home to their university. But Homecoming is not just about meeting old friends and classmates, it is also about expressing thoughts and sharing knowledge. This year’s Career Symposium interestingly occurred on the same day of the first climate strikes by pupils and schoolchildren all over the world. Hence, Jacobs Homecoming 2019 discussed “Starting Up with Social Responsibility: Ethical Dimensions of Entrepreneurship”. With over 200 students, alumni, and faculty attending this year’s Career Symposium, it was one of the most conducive Career Symposiums which has ever taken place at Jacobs University.
On Saturday the major-specific reunions kicked off, as alumni and current students thoroughly tackled topics related to their majors and fields of work. Eager to help, Jacobs Alumni happily shared their experiences with current students who were delighted to hear and learn about the world-after-graduation. That continued of course throughout the yummy Alumni BBQ. Indeed, Jacobs Alumni were also here to exchange views on the Alumni Association, which did then occur at the General Assembly. The fabulous Alumni Gala Dinner Fundraiser then took place at the Strandlust Hotel, including a magical musical performance by two talented Jacobs Alumni: Agne Karose and Joshua Frenster, followed by a Student Art Auction Fundraiser. This year’s raised funds for the Alumni Scholarship were dedicated to the highly esteemed University founder and distinguished Professor of Mathematics, Ronny Wells, who was present in the audience, next to other pioneering figures and friends of the University. Not to forget are also the inspirational words by this year’s Alumni Scholarship receiver, Mayssane Boudi, the heartfelt speeches by the Alumni Association’s former presidents, Peter Dabrowski, and Anne Valtink, and the new President Stefan Rustler. Thrilled by the outcomes of the Gala Dinner, everyone joined the big Alumni Party on campus to celebrate.
Before returning to their countries all over the world, Alumni had brunch on Sunday with Jacobs current students. In short, Homecoming 2019 is an annual reminder that Jacobs Alumni never lose their special place at their university, that they will forever stay connected, that they will always have a place to come to that is called Home.
impressions of the weekend from the perspective of Jacobs alumna Darima Pivovarova (Russia) | Class of 2014:
“Just traveled back in time this weekend, talked to a 19-year-old me and looked at myself now from a different angle.
Being back at Jacobs and Bremen after so many years felt surreal: arriving at Hbf (eich bee ef) and seeing some new buildings just in front of it, Paddy's, where I worked for two weeks one winter and promised to myself to do what it takes not to end up working at bars later in life.
I was walking in the old town and looking at this beautiful fairy-tale architecture with the eyes of 17-year-old me, being for the first time in Europe, so thrilled and fascinated about every tiny thing. The years and memories were rushing through my head: the street where Ana used to live after we graduated, the cocktail bar where I had my first off-campus date, the hairdresser where I cut my long hair, the green hill around the zig-zag water line where I once found and mentally called my secret place. Domsheide, good old Roland, Bremen Stadtmusikanten, wedding photo shoots, tourists, the manhole that makes the sounds of each animal of the Bremen Musicians when dropping a coin. Ah... I continue further towards Theater am Goetheplatz, where we watched the world championship in the summer after graduation. Now there were people drinking Aperol and enjoying the afternoon outside, so relaxed. What strikes me is that there are not many people around and everything is so green. I pass by a grandma sitting with her grandson on a bench and singing in opera voice to him. I thought it might be in Russian, but I couldn't quite distinguish.
I continue towards Viertel and pass by some extra cute shops with hand made decorations and souvenirs, all having Bremen themes. I look for places I used to know and stop by Wohnzimmer - now fully covered in some graffiti. This hip place I found only in my 3rd year and discovered the whole Viertel and other parts only after graduation. I suddenly realize that the walk from Hbf to Viertel is only 20 min – and this took me 3 years to discover?
Being back on campus felt even more nostalgic: bus 94, Finkenschlag, Taunusstraße: those stop names that you still remember. C3, Mercator, my dear Krupp, students everywhere. I felt overwhelmed and was able to relax only after Stan greeted me in the IRC with "welcome home". Seeing familiar faces, but not being able to remember all the names, recognizing the Apetito ladies and Rosa's wide smile, meeting new students: everything felt so heartwarming.
The highlight of this 5-year retrospective was meeting the current students and answering their questions. I just saw myself in each of them, being so worried about the future, about finding a job, an internship or a graduate program. They asked us questions as if we had it all figured out. While standing in front of them and answering the questions I realized that even though I have some tips to give, I'm still just in the beginning of finding my dream job, my path. All I know is that somehow it has always worked out. I really felt like I was talking to a student version of myself, saying don't worry too much, appreciate what you have.
And really, the campus is beautiful. We noticed some fish in the pond next to the IRC: did we have fish when we studied here? It reminded Stan and me of this cute movie 'About Time', in which the guy can relive his day and appreciate it more. That's how I felt the entire weekend: reliving my Jacobs times and appreciating them more. You have all the sports facilities five minutes away, the campus green, all the lecture halls so close to each other.
And most of all: it is so calm. The whole campus and the area. The stars are so bright at night, you don't get to see them like this in Berlin. We stayed between Lesum and Burg and the area is so peaceful: tiny cute houses and almost no people on the streets. The complexity of living is just so much lower than in Berlin. Even visually: one main street, 2 bus stops, 2 kebab shops, 1 Rewe, that's it. The train goes every 30 min from Bremen Hbf, and of course, I missed mine. There is no other way, no need to check Google maps for alternative routes. You just sit and wait, and my agile mind didn't know what to do with this idle time.
I even made a joke that we should have a retreat in Bremen Nord for all the stressed consultant and start-uper Alumni: just being in nature, walking in Knoops Park, connecting with the new students and reviving all the old memories. I think it will fly.
Catching up with old friends was so nice as well: some are moving to other places, some are getting married, some are finishing their Ph.D. and some are having start up projects. We were laughing to tears when we realized that the common topic to discuss has become the backpain. On Friday night I heard one student passing by and saying to the other: they're so old, they don't even dance. That cracked me up. On Saturday I had another flashback, where I remembered myself at the Homecoming parties looking at the alumni and pitying them because they looked like they haven't danced in a while and were just squeezing in all the fun they could get. And yes, it was me on Saturday, dancing like I haven't danced in a while because I haven't danced in while! As a student, it was hard for me to imagine a life without dancing every week.
All the Jacobs nostalgia brought up this one strong feeling in me, one most important thing that Jacobs taught me: to dream big. When you study, sleep, eat, party, do all the extra-curriculars, literally everything with a small group of people from all over the world for 3 years, you build this strong friendship and certain expectations for life. I remember how people inspired me with their talents: I was fascinated by the Arts Olympix (now called Art On), Dancestoned, Piano to Forte, whatever other events we had. Everyone had this attitude and aspiration to change the world, to do big things. One of my favorite memories of Jacobs is the time when we would open Google maps and think about the places we want to go, to visit each other's parts of the world and discover new ones. Everything seemed possible, we were fearless.
It's not that I started to dream small in the last years, it's just that I also realized that great expectations can lead to great dissatisfaction. And that's when it gets tricky. How can I dream big, but still enjoy my ordinary life without any big expectations? It's quite conflicting. But maybe the way is to appreciate what you have at any given point while having your dreams relevant - so cliché, and damn, this sentence is from my meditation app. What if in five years I will be in a quiet place with one bus and one main street and when visiting Berlin, I'd suddenly appreciate more what I have now. Looking at my current life in Berlin from the future-me perspective, the way I looked at my student self this weekend, made me deeply appreciate every chapter of my life for its uniqueness, its timing, its influence on me. The grass is always greener on the other side – it's greener quite literally on campus green though!”