Introducing the Digital Tech Academy

The Team of FAU’s Digital Tech Academy. Photo: DTA

Many organizations are now involved in cultivating talents and provide them with necessary skills to succeed in the fast-paced, high-tech industry. Creative people are no longer alone in their quest for the next big thing since they can always seek for advice from experts or get help handling logistics behind their creative process. I was inspired by my interview with Karl (Carlos) Rabes and Lisa Wittenzellner from the FAU Digital Tech Academy, a new FAU project that seeks and supports digital entrepreneurs.

What is Digital Tech Academy and how was it initiated?

The idea of the FAU Digital Tech Academy arose from the notion that entrepreneurship and digitalization touch everyone’s life. It is important to form a group at FAU that shares the same passion for entrepreneurship and digitization. The Digital Tech Fellows program, one part of the Digital Tech Academy, is an opportunity for all FAU students to pursue their passion for digitization, entrepreneurship, and innovation by realizing novel ideas with the help of professionals from industry. We are a small team of four people and are currently screening more than 150 applications to narrow the field down to only about 25 participants for the first batch of the Digital Tech Fellows program. This is the one-year extracurricular program, open to all enrolled students at the FAU (with a new batch starting each semester). Therein participants get to know each other and form their own group to work on innovative ideas that they are interested in.


New Year’s Eve celebration

Raclette is a typical dinner at ew Year’s Eve celebrations. Photo: Anh Tran

I was very excited for my first ever New Year’s Eve (Silvester) celebration in Germany. The celebration here is quite different compared to the one in Vietnam. In Vietnam, we celebrate new year twice. The first celebration happens on December 31st like the rest of the world. The second is usually the bigger one and takes place in February, according to the lunar calendar.

For Vietnamese, end of the year celebration is often a time for family. It is important to have a clean house to welcome the new year. I remember as a kid my mom would make my sister and I clean our rooms. My mom cooks a feast and prays to our ancestors for luck and health for the upcoming year. Then we watch a very famous annual comedy show and wait till midnight to watch fireworks on the rooftop.

On the other hand, I notice that younger people in Germany usually gather and go out with friends on New Year’s Eve. We gathered at a friend’s apartment and had pizza as there were too many of us to cook. But it’s also common to make a Raclette dinner. A raclette contains a mini stove, where you can cook cheese, meat, cold cuts, and veggies together. It’s a bit similar to hot pot in Asia.


Thanksgiving in the dorm

Greetings from Russia. Picture: Anh Tran

Thanksgiving is not usually celebrated in Germany or in Vietnam, where I come from. My friends from Mexico also celebrate Thanksgiving but with typical Mexican culinary. While studying abroad in the U.S, I notice that it is a very important holiday, during which families gather and have a large meal together. The meal typically consists of roast turkey, mashed potato with gravy, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. It is an occasion to take a moment to give thanks and feel blessed.

This year, my Thanksgiving is a bit different as I celebrated it with students from all around the world at Dutzendteich dorm. We had the option to prepare a typical dish from our countries and share them at the party. In Germany, it was difficult to buy a big whole turkey unless it was special order. So our Thanksgiving dinner had no turkey but more than 20 dishes of different ethnicities, ranging from chicken curry, spring roll, bratwurst, pasta, etc.

We all contributed to the party in some forms, either it was cash (3 euros/ person) or paper plates, and drinks. After everyone tried out the food, we voted for the best dish. The winner could have free drinks at the bar for the whole night.


Hannah and the Deep South of the USA – Recap of my first two months in the Bull City

Welcome to Duke University. Photo: Hannah Riemann

Over two months ago, I was sitting at home packing my bags to go on my next big adventure: studying in the United States for a year at Duke University in North Carolina. Considering the current American political scene and the fact that I am a political science student who does not really agree with most of the political choices Americans have made lately, it was quite a jump  for me. The fact that I would live in the conservative South of the United States did not really calm my fears of spending my next 10 months arguing with Americans about politics.

Now I have lived and studied at Duke University for over two months, visited great lectures, had amazing conversation and discussions with other students and professors and came to the conclusion: I really like it here.

Make America great again?

But don’t worry. I did not turn into a redneck, hillbilly, gun-owning Trump supporter. As an American friend put it when I asked him whether North Carolina belongs to the Deep South: “Yes, they were part of the Confederacy, but you are in a super liberal pocket of North Carolina in Durham. Drive 20 minutes in any direction and you will find some hillbilly …… (*insert censor beep sound here*).” It seems that I just got lucky and ended up in one of the most liberal areas of the Deep South. So far, I have not had “the pleasure” of talking with a Trump-supporter, because everyone I met here is ashamed of having him as their “president”. It is true though that as soon as you leave Durham and drive through the more rural areas of North Carolina, it is not uncommon to find Confederate flags hanging in front yards or “Make America great again” stickers on bumpers.