Alumna Dr. Margaret Mehl, Dänemark





Name: Margaret Mehl

Duration of study in Bonn (from – to): 1981 to 1991

Subjects of study: Japanese studies and History

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At the moment I am working as…
Associate Professor in Japanese Studies, Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen.

After leaving Bonn I also did…
1991-1994 Postdoc, University of Cambridge, 1994-1995 Lecturer, University of Edinburgh, 1995-2000 Lecturer, Scottish Centre for Japanese Studies, University of Stirling

Currently I live in…
Copenhagen, Denmark.

I moved here because…
I got a job at Copenhagen University.

About my new home abroad I especially like…
Actually, I much preferred living in the UK (my mother is English), but my department here has just moved to very pleasant new buildings and I have good colleagues.

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At the University of Bonn I learned…
I knew virtually nothing about Japan when I started studying, so I learnt much of what I know about Japan there. To this day I value the broad approach to the study of Japan practised at Bonn when I was there. In history, the European Middle Ages were almost as foreign to me as Japan and I learnt to appreciate what a fascinating field of study they are.

My favourite Professor at the University of Bonn…
Not sure I had a particular favourite. I enjoyed studying with a variety of professors. And some of the most inspiring teachers did not have the title “professor” at all.

My favourite class at the University of Bonn…
Hard to say, especially after all these years. Maybe the introduction to the history of Japan, a course about education in Medieval Europe and a seminar on medieval monasteries in the history department.

My favourite place at the University of Bonn…
The rooms of the library in the history department that face the Rhine.

My favourite dish in the cafeteria…
I don’t think I ate there much, so I have no memory of any particular dish. I seem to remember eating a rather good carrot ‘Eintopf’ on my very first visit to the refectory (Mensa Nassestrasse) and overhearing a student say (with a hint of surprise in her voice?), “schmeckt wie bei Muttern.”

My best memory of my time at the University of Bonn…
Just being in Bonn and studying at a university with a beautiful main building in the centre of town; the Hofgarten in the summer.
Playing the violin in the Collegium Musicum, including in an open air performance of Arthur Honegger’s Jean d’Arc au bûcher in the courtyard of the main building.


After graduation I actually wanted to…
Find a real job rather than stay in academia.

Looking back on my college days I definitely would…
- I would probably do pretty much the same, but I wish I had appreciated my good fortune more.

I like Bonn because…
it is small enough to get around on a bike, but there’s still a lot going on there (of course it was still a capital city when I studied there…).

A good (work) day starts with…
a cup of tea, a stimulating book and a piece of writing I have already made a start on.

Success means…
doing work you love or managing to be happy with whatever you end up doing.

Failure means…
spending your life doing neither what is right nor what you enjoy.

I deeply admire…
people who make the most of their opportunities and cultivate a positive outlook.

My favourite quotation…
I’m not really a quotation junkie, but one of my favourites is, “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118, 24)

My philosophy of life is…
I thought only North Americans have philosophies

What I would like to tell current students of the University of Bonn:
There is a Japanese saying, “yoku manabi yoku asobe” – which can roughly be translated as, “study hard and play vigorously.”

For the future my wishes for the University of Bonn are…
that it will not blindly follow trends but help set them.





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