I’ve been keeping this under wraps until all the papers have been signed, but in the fall semester I will be teaching English at the University of Vechta again. I already taught English at Vechta a couple of years ago. This time around, I will teach a class to prepare aspiring English teachers for their teaching internships.
The University of Vechta is Germany’s smallest university with some 3500 students, mostly aspiring teachers as well as social workers, gerontologists and agronomists. It started out in 1830 as a teacher training college operated by the Catholic church.
Vechta itself as a town of 32000 people approx. sixty-five kilometers south of Bremen. It’s a typical North German small town, a bit more diverse with regard to population and culture than similar small towns due to the many students. Vechta is also a bit of a regional oddity, since it’s a very Catholic town in traditionally Lutheran Protestant Northwest Germany, part of a Catholic enclave that stretches from approx. thirty kilometers south of Bremen all the way to the Dutch border.
I was at the university yesterday to sign some papers and get some books from the university library. Afterwards, I went into the city, because Vechta still has a Leffers store, a largely defunct chain of clothing stores with an excellent selection of sensible high quality underwear and nightwear. And since I neglected taking photos the last time I worked there, I decided to remedy that and took my camera along.
So here are some photos of Vechta, where I’ll be teaching soon, along with two of the best bakeries in the region:
This portal stone, bearing the coat of arms of the Duke of Oldenburg, is all that remains of the old Catholic teacher training college, which eventually became the university of Vechta. It is now displayed on campus.
A vintage sculpture on the university campus facing the cafeteria.
The university quad, seen from above.
A modern sculpture in front of the great auditorium of the University of Vechta. A couple of years ago I taught an introductory linguistics class in this auditorium.
This crucifix set up on the campus is a tangible reminder of the Catholic past of the university. Nowadays, Vechta is a public university, but it still has a notable faculty of Catholic theology.
Out of the university and into the city. Here you can see the late gothic St. Georg church, built in the 16th century. It was once known for its stunning interior, but was unfortunately plundered during the 30 Years War.
A baroque statue of a saint, clearly not St. Georg, above the portal of St. Georg church.
The statue of a saint adorns the facade of Vechta’s “Kolpinghaus”, initially a Catholic charity for wandering craftsmen and now a sort of Catholic YMCA.
The “Old Kamponier”, a late medieval ammunitions depot that is one of the oldest buildings in Vechta, half hidden behind some shrubbery. Not the bicycle floating in the Vechtaer Moorbach (Vechta moor creek).
A fountain overlooking the old market. The pale yellow building on the right is the former Three Crown Hotel, now a (pretty good) Italian restaurant.
The statue of a horse on the new market in Vechta. Vechta is a centre of horse breeding in North Germany.
A shop selling colourful fiberglass sheep and birdhouses on the new market in Vechta.
This sculpture commemorates Streetsweeper Martin, a local original who always kept the streets of Vechta clean until his death in 1984. I always love such sculptures commemorating people who may not have been famous, but were nonetheless an integral part of their home cities. For example, Bremen has sculptures commemorating Mother Cordes, a market woman, and Heini Holtenbeen (Henry with the wooden leg), another local original.
This sculpture shows Jan and Libbett, a farmer couple attending Vechta’s famous fair, the Stoppelmarkt (so called, because it is always held in late August, when the grain has been harvested and all that’s left are the shafts (Stoppeln). The late Whitney Houston once performed at the Stoppelmarkt sometime in the 1990s. The homepage of the city of Vechta still has a photo of that memorable event.
Memorial for the dead of World War I and II next to the church.
The Imperial post office on the main street of Vechta, built in 1896. Nowadays, it houses a drugstore and the local offices of the Christian Democratic Party (i.e. Angela Merkel’s party).
Vechta’s main street does not only have surprisingly nice shops for such a small town, but also some really nice shop fronts such as this optician’s shop decorated with bells.
A Vechta institution since 1930: Burrichter’s bakery and café. Burrichter’s spekulatius cookies are the best in Northwest Germany. Indeed, the first thing my aunt said when I told her I will be teaching in Vechta again was, “Please bring me spekulatius cookies from Burrichter.”
The interior of Burrichter’s Café has remained largely unchanged since 1930. It’s like stepping into a time warp.
Inside Café Burrichter looking out onto the main street. I’ll take this over Starbuck’s any day. Not that there is a Starbuck’s in Vechta. With so many great local cafés you don’t need one.
Bakery Weyman in Twistrigen, approx. halfway between Vechta and Bremen, is IMO the best general bakery in the region. I’m a huge fan of their bagels and cream-filled Berliners and look forward to stopping there on my way to the university. Note the murals over the display windows.
A look at Twistringen, another small town halfway between Vechta and Bremen. In the background, you can see the Catholic church (Twistringen is where the Northwest German Catholic enclave starts), then a 19th century house, which is now a Greek restaurant, and finally in the foreground a fountain.
In case you’re wondering about Spekulatius cookies, Wikipedia has some more info. And yes, Burrichter’s really are the best. Their other cake and cookie offerings are great, too. Yesterday, I had a whole grain sandwich cookie with noisette filling that was delicious.