Guten Tag Everybody!
My name is Sean Fawaz, and I am currently a junior doing a semester abroad at the University of Mannheim. I am a business major with a concentration in Marketing. I apologize for not posting a blog entry much earlier. I have been busy traveling to a number of unbelievable cities and countries that have made this study abroad experience a whirlwind of excitement, cultural collisions, and an unforgettable adventure! But now, I finally have a chance to share what I have seen and done in Germany.
First, I’d like to begin by asking myself “why out of all places I could have chosen through the GBC did I choose to study at Mannheim, Germany?” I had a few reasons that influenced my decision. I love to travel. And I had plenty of experience in the past traveling to various countries in Europe, Asia, and Central America. However, I wanted to choose somewhere I had never been. Germany had not been crossed off yet on my places-to-go list. That was my first reason. Second, I wanted to go somewhere that would be beneficial for my major. Germany has the most thriving economy in all of the European Union to this date, and is known for its successful corporations such as Deutsche Bank, Deutsche Bahn, Daimler-Chrysler, SAP, Volkswagen, BMW, etc. The city of Frankfurt is the financial hub of all Germany where such corporations maintain their successful business practices daily. The city of Mannheim happens to be conveniently located just 30 minutes south of Frankfurt by fast train. Not only that, the University of Mannheim is the most prestigious business school in all of Germany, being ranked number 1 for the past 5 years running. Therefore, I knew I could receive a good quality education on an international level as I continue pursuing my degree and eventually my career.
Everything about Germany as a country is astonishing. The city center of Mannheim itself might seem like any typical downtown with shopping, restaurants, and crosswalks with floods of people. Having said that, the highlight of the city of Mannheim is actually the university Schloss, or castle (pictured), a beautiful Baroque castle entrance. At Mannheim, I am taking classes 4 days a week, which is convenient for me to frequently go on weekend trips to various places. All of which are in English except my German language course. So far, I visited the majority of the large cities in Germany, the Netherlands, the famous Neuschwanstein castle (Disney castle), Romania, and I just came back from a trip to Berlin and Madrid with another fellow UW student studying in Europe. Just as a fair warning, be sure to stay on top of your studies at the University of Mannheim as many courses have 1 final exam as the entire course grade, and you are only given a fairly limited amount of time to complete the test. Just a heads up! The big German cities I have visited such as Cologne, Munich, Frankfurt, and Berlin combine a unique cocktail of a classic Renaissance vibe associated with many European countries with extremely modern city skylines at the same time. You see the history that made each city so unique as well as how far and futuristic they have come along, especially in Munich and Berlin.
The German way of life is unique to say the least. Initially, I was not so sure if I could adjust to the German punctual, structured, and almost no-nonsense personality. It was at first very difficult to meet the local German people. Generally speaking, they are not the type to immediately warm up to a stranger/foreigner’s needs. So, here’s what I highly recommend to those considering studying at Mannheim. Request a buddy through VISUM, which is the international student association through the University who can accommodate you with your academic, personal, and legal needs. My buddy was a 24-year-old master’s student named Anne, who was extremely helpful to fulfill all my necessities to make the most of my study abroad experience. I found out through Anne that the best way to get acquainted with and become good friends with the German people is to have a buddy of your own who can introduce you to their friends, just so they know you’re not a complete stranger. And once you do break the ice with the German people, they are genuinely very friendly and helpful. Not only have I met plenty of Germans here in Mannheim, but also a United Nations of an exchange student body. I’ve met people from Spain, England, France, Norway, Sweden, Italy, Poland, Taiwan, Colombia, you name it! And it always fascinates me to see each of their respected cultural differences and the curiosities they have about our American culture. And this gives you the opportunity to speak on behalf of your country and give a good first impression. I’ve even immersed myself with the German tradition as I went to Oktoberfest this year, which I highly recommend if you want to get the full traditional German experience of having a great time with your new friends while enjoying Germany’s finest beer, Weißwurst and Currywurst (German sausages), big pretzels, all while singing songs and having the time of your life. I think I got the full German experience this Oktoberfest (see picture). You be the judge!
Anyways, this is all I have for now and I hope I helped you get a better perspective of life in Deutschland. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to comment on my entry and I’ll be more than happy to answer them. Until then, Tschüss!