University of Mannheim

Christmas Markets

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

Written By: Kim Paltz, Foster School student who studied abroad at the University of Mannheim in Germany

 

Although I didn’t get to spend the entire holiday season with my family this year, the Christmas markets in Germany brought me some joy instead. Besides attending the one in my host town, Mannheim, I also went to the markets in Nuremberg, Cologne, Speyer, Stuttgart, and Heidelberg.

b1Main Stage at the Cologne Weihnachtsmarkt

I think by far one of my favorite Christmas markets was Cologne. They had about eight different markets all with a different theme. There was the classic Christmas market at the Cathedral, the “home of the elves” in old town, and then a collection of modern crafts in the Stadtgarten. I’m glad I gave myself plenty of time because it took me about seven hours to make my way through all the markets. Considering it is one of the biggest Christmas markets in Germany, it did get pretty hard to squeeze through the crowds near the end of the night but I still loved all the variety and felt like I could find something for everyone. I did manage to almost complete my Christmas shopping by the end of it!

My other favorite market was Heidelberg. I met up with another friend from Germany who showed me the highlights around the Christmas market. After perusing the stands, I finally found a lichtstern to bring home with me (I had been looking everywhere for one). Additionally, we enjoyed the different glühwein flavors (one was called “Snowman” and had blueberry-flavored glühwein with rum and whipped cream) and also split a flammkuchen between the two of us. Flammkuchen is sort of like a flat crust pizza but even better. Besides enjoying all the food, we ran around the Christmas markets trying to find the perfect photo spot and got some last minute gifts too.

I couldn’t have asked for a better conclusion to my study abroad experience. The Christmas markets gave me a piece of German culture but also showed how a holiday I know and love can be celebrated around the world.

 

Weekend Getaway in Prague

Monday, February 8th, 2016

Written By: Kim Paltz, Foster School student who studied abroad at the University of Mannheim in Germany

I believe one of my favorite weekend trips was Prague. I swear I’ve been waiting for this trip for at least a year. The city did not disappoint either. I fell in love with all the architecture in the Old Town and in the castle complex plus the hearty food was delicious as well.

We arrived Thursday afternoon and after dropping off our stuff at the hostel, we went to Old Time Square. We got to see all the sights at night then headed inside an art gallery because it was so cold. At the gallery, we saw an exhibit on Salvador Dali and I even got to see one of the pieces I studied in Spanish in person. Afterwards, we ran into some locals who recommended this traditional Czech restaurant. The hearty food was delicious especially after being in the cold. After dinner, we headed to a black light theater where they do a performance under black light which is apparently a thing in Prague. It was interesting to watch yet my friend and I were still confused at what the plot was afterwards.

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Astronomical Clock

The next day, we spent the morning on a walking tour around the Old Town. We learned so much about the history of Prague and the Czech Republic in general. We ended up seeing everything from the St. Charles Bridge to the art nouveau town hall to the Jewish quarter. Then after being in the pouring rain and cold all morning, my friend and I decided to head to a cafe for lunch to warm up. It took us awhile before we were willing to return outside and brace the cold again. After lunch, we headed to the Jewish museum since we wanted to be inside. The ticket included the cemetery, a few synagogues, and an exhibit that displayed artwork done by children imprisoned in Terezin. It was really heartbreaking to hear that most of them didn’t survive and then to see their drawings that displayed so much hope. Our last stop for the day was the national gallery where they had an exhibit focused on Asian art. They had a few pieces by Czech artists too that depicted similar themes. We even met this sweet, elderly lady who couldn’t stop talking about this one Czech artist and was glad to hear that we enjoyed the exhibit. Then for dinner, we went to another traditional Czech restaurant recommended by the hostel. It was delicious. I had beef goulash with some bacon dumplings and apple strudel for dessert. Then it was back to the hostel, to warm up for the night after being in the rain all day.

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Golden Lane

On Saturday, we headed out early to make it to the castle before all the crowds. The architecture was phenomenal. I especially loved seeing St. Vitus Cathedral and the cute, little houses on Golden Lane. Besides viewing the architecture, I learned a lot about the history of the castle and its different rulers. We pretty much spent half a day there and it was well worth the visit. After grabbing lunch, we headed over to the John Lennon Wall. It was nice to see they already had some dedications to Paris on the wall too. Then we went across town to Vyšehrad where we walked around the old castle complex and took in the views of Prague. Before it got dark (the sun sets around 4 here), we decided to see the astronomical clock show and grabbed a trdelník while we waited. The show was pretty short but I wasn’t going to visit Prague and not see it. Since it was starting to get dark, we headed over to another part of the national gallery near Letná and saw an exhibit on Czech modern art. I loved the earlier pieces from the late 1800s to early 1900s but then it got a little too abstract for my taste near the end. After the gallery, we went back near Old Town to have dinner at another restaurant recommended by the locals. I ended up having beer tartar with fried bread. In addition, it came with a clove of garlic which we assumed you sliced up and sprinkled on top of the meat and bread. Then we noticed the Czech guy next to us giving us some weird looks especially as I struggled to cut my garlic with a table knife. When he got the same thing, we realized you are supposed to rub the garlic on the bread. I ended up just burying my garlic in the beef tartar and continuing on with my meal, slightly embarrassed.

 

prague4Beef Tartar with Fried Bread

 

Our last day in Prague, we saw a bit more of the industrial side of Prague. We started by seeing the Church of the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord, a postmodern-style church and the Zizkov TV Tower, which had babies crawling up the side of it. It was definitely different than the typical European architecture. On our way back into town we walked through Riegorovy Sady where we had another viewpoint of Prague. Then, we headed up to Petrin Hill to visit the tower there. Of course, when we arrived, the streets weren’t clearly marked so we ended up taking a wrong turn which led us all the way to the other side of the park. Then we had to try to find our way back to the tower. It was quite the adventure and we got pretty frustrated every time we ran into a fence or wall. Of course once we reached the tower we found a path that led us straight back to the tram station in less than five minutes. We laughed it off and decided we had to kill some time anyways. Back in town, we had lunch at another cafe and grabbed some snacks before it was time to head back to Mannheim. I really wish I could’ve spent some more time in Prague. I loved the city and I think it is by far one of my favorite European cities.

 

 

My First Solo Trip: Milan

Monday, February 8th, 2016

Written By: Kim Paltz, Foster School student who studied abroad at the University of Mannheim in Germany

Well I finally did it. I braved it out and went on a solo trip. It was definitely nerve-wracking at first because it can be difficult figuring out the system of a new town all by yourself. But I managed to find the shuttle and then the metro which took me to my hostel on the first night.

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Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

The rest of the weekend I literally jammed pack as much sightseeing as I could possibly fit in two and a half days. My first day started out at Il Duomo which was crowded with tourists. But squeezing through I got to see all the beautiful stained glass and tracery inside the cathedral before heading over to the museum to see a few more church artifacts. At this point it was already lunch time so I grabbed a Milano panini (lettuce, tomato, mozzarella, and fried chicken) to go so that I could pack in a few more sights.

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Delicious Chocolate Gelato

Later in the afternoon, I met up with one of my friends from UW whose actually studying in Milan. She took me to this amazing gelato place where they put warm melted chocolate in the bottom of your cone, pack in some ice cream, and then top it off with meringue. It was so delicious that I was very tempted to return again before I left. My friend also showed me this spot in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II where there’s this belief that if you spin around three times in this one spot it brings you good luck. So I got to look like a fool and spin around in the middle of the mall. But it must be bringing some luck because there is literally a sunken hole in the ground from all the people spinning there.

 

Next we went to the Navigli District which is this area located near the major canals of Milan. It was so beautiful just walking around and taking in the atmosphere but was even more phenomenal when I went at sunset the next day.

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Expo Light Show

Later that night I had the chance to go to the Milan Expo. I chose only to go at night because the tickets were only five euros compared to the 40 euro price for the day. But after entering the expo, I could see why people go for the day. There is literally a stand for almost every country and they aren’t just small stands. Each country seem to have an extravagant building where you could learn about the culture and food (it was an expo on food) of each country. Besides the number of exhibits, many of the countries would have lines where the waiting time was around 40 minutes, which I pretty much had to skip because I only had four hours. Through my time there though I managed to explore around 30 countries and tried a Polish sausage, an Estonian granita, and got a free sample of Lindt chocolate.

 

That pretty much wrapped up my first day. The next day was jammed pack full as well. I started by going to Castello Sforzesco which was once home to the wealthy lord of Milan, Francesco Sforza. I was so glad I got there early too because the lines really began to pick up around 10. It was definitely quite the experience. For only three euros, I got to see all the museums of the castle and one of Michelangelo’s pietas. Behind the castle, I spent more time in Parco Sempione which seems to have an endless amount of trails. So I grabbed a caprese foccacia and just walked around, enjoying the sunny day.

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Sunset in the Navigli District

For the afternoon, I spent a lot of time walking around. I thought while I’m here might as well see the city instead of the dark tunnels of the metro. I may have gotten lost a couple times but I definitely saw some beautiful streets tucked away from all the bustle of the crowds. My first stop on the way was Santa Maria Della Grazie which is home of Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper. When I got there I walked into the museum center and asked if I could get tickets. Apparently, they were sold out until next Sunday! At this point, I thought this was the only way to see the Last Supper so I walked off sulking only to end up stumbling upon this cloister where they had a gap in the wall peering in at the Last Supper. I was almost in disbelief that I found it. It’s definitely not as big as I expected. The remainder of the afternoon was spent hopping from church to church taking in all the architecture. I swear I was determined to see them all. I finished off back in the Navigli District where I saw the sun set over the canal.

 

My last day I spent the morning exploring different gardens. I especially enjoyed the Giardino Pubblici Indro Montanelli. I really wish I could’ve run there because of all the trails. After getting my fair share of gardens, I headed back to the Duomo for mass. There turned out to be a massive line and I ended up having to wait 10 minutes just to get in for mass. Then afterwards, I grabbed a delicious prosciutto pizza before heading back to the airport for my return to Germany.

I’ve heard many of times that Milan is very industrial and it’s almost a waste time to visit. But I think paired with the different festivities and the historical architecture of Southern Milan, I don’t think I could ever regret my second visit to Italy.

 

Understanding Germany

Monday, January 5th, 2015

Written by Jonathan Bannick, Foster undergraduate

I returned to the US with tremendous respect for the German people and a deep admiration for the country. While Germans are culturally quite similar to Americans, I believe that there are many things that we can learn from the German people. Specifically, I want to discuss the concept of national identity.

Over the summer while I was preparing to study abroad, Germany won the World Cup. I watched this historical event with excitement. I anticipated that when I arrived in Germany there would still be signs of celebration. I expected to see people wearing Jerseys and flags flying throughout the cities. What I found upon arriving was quite different. German flags were virtually absent from every city that I traveled to and citizens were almost reluctant to bring up the topic. Over time, this seemingly paradoxical phenomenon began to make more sense.

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My first clue emerged in a conversation that I had with another German student. I asked him whether he was bothered when Americans and other foreigners attempt to speak German. He responded that instead of being frustrated, he was flattered. He went on to explain that even as a German living in the 21st century, he still feels a tremendous amount of guilt for his national identity.

Upon more research, it becomes very clear why many German citizens would be cautious about showing national pride. Every student is required to visit a concentration camp at least once throughout their education. The capital city of Berlin is filled with reminders of the struggles of many people at the hands of German rulers. The cautiousness to display pride in the national soccer team is deeply rooted in the history of the country.

The main point of this message is not to be self-critical. Rather, the point of this lesson is to acknowledge that we all must learn from our past. While there are few events in history quite as horrific as those that occurred in Germany during WWII, every country must reconcile with the fact that there are dark times that occurred in previous generations. I walked away from this experience with a tremendous amount of respect for the German people because they seek to fully understand the events of the past rather than to ignore them. I believe that all countries could learn greatly from this example.

My passion for the country developed even further as I traveled more within it. Many Americans would be surprised to know that Germany is one of the most beautiful countries in Europe. The culture is extremely rich and there is so much to learn in every city. I feel very lucky for the time that I spent in Germany and I look forward to the next time that I return.

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Traveling throughout Europe

Monday, January 5th, 2015

Written by Jonathan Bannick, Foster undergraduate

One of the best parts about living in Mannheim was the accessibility of other cities throughout Europe. Germany is centrally located on the continent and well connected to many different places. Through a variety of planes, trains, cars and buses, I was able to see 10 different countries and create memories that will last a lifetime.

My journey to Germany passed through London initially. My parents and I spent three days here and we all felt that we could have spent a year. This sprawling metropolis is packed with history on every street. I had the opportunity to visit the city a second time when I went again in November. Both times, I loved the city and learned a tremendous amount.

Of all the countries in Europe, Mannheim was extremely close to France. After just a three hour train ride, I found myself exploring Paris. While I had been to the city six years prior, I fell in love with the grand boulevards and the path along the river. From Paris I was also able to travel north to visit Normandy.

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Mannheim also stood relatively close to Switzerland. On one weekend I was able to travel south to the Swiss capital of Bern and spend the day exploring the city. From Bern, I was also able to make it deeper into the country to a small town called Interlaken. The peaks of this small town offered some of the most beautiful views in all of Europe.

Mannheim was also just a short plane ride away from the Frankfurt Airport. This airport allowed me to go to the cliffs of Ireland, the islands of Stockholm, the Beaches of Barcelona and the bridges through Prague. From Prague I was also able to take a train further to Budapest.

Traveling proved to be one of the best parts of my time abroad. I feel very privileged for the opportunities that I had and I also believe that this experience has created a passion for travel that will last a lifetime.

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Traveling In Germany

Monday, January 5th, 2015

Written by Jonathan Bannick, Foster undergraduate

In addition to traveling to other countries, living in Mannheim allowed me to travel to many different cities throughout Germany. Below I have highlighted the different trips that I took.

I first arrived in Germany with my parents in the middle of August. We started our journey in Munich and from there we saw several of the surrounding areas. Bavaria is one of the most famous regions in Europe because of all that it has to offer. The city of Munich is vibrant and full of culture. To the south, countless mountains offer breathtaking views and extraordinary castles. Also the region is very close in proximity to Austria and we were able to take a day trip to Salzburg. From Bavaria we were able to travel North through Germany along the Romantic Road. Our final destination that day was a town called Rothenburg. The small village is surrounded by a medieval wall and feels historic and magical. From Rothenburg we traveled north to visit the city of Siegburg where my grandfather had been nearly 70 years before as he fought to liberate a German town. From Siegburg we traveled south into the Rhine Valley region. Here we spend two nights in Bacharach. Like Rothenburg, this small town felt magical and full of old world charm. Bacharach remains one of my favorite cities in Germany. By the time we made it to Bacharach, we were relatively close to Mannheim, where I would eventually end up. We took several days to make our way through Frankfurt and to get moved into Mannheim. By the end of August, I was ready to begin my time at the University.

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My next opportunity to explore Germany came in the middle of September when my friends and I traveled north to Berlin. This German capital city is filled with history and culture. I only had several days here but I felt that I could have spent months simply exploring.

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At the end of September, I had the opportunity to return to Munich for the legendary Oktoberfest. I traveled with a group of students from my university and we were able to spend several days exploring the city and the festival. Our first day there, September 26th, happened to be my birthday. This was the perfect place to celebrate.

Nearly 30 years ago, my uncle also studied in Germany and his experiences were part of my inspiration to participate in the exchange in Mannheim. At the end of October, he was able to visit me in Mannheim and we traveled throughout southwestern Germany. Along the way we saw many beautiful cities including Freiburg and Tübingen. Additionally we visited a small town outside of Stuttgart called Aidlingen. For the first time I was able to meet my German relatives that lived here. We had a great time sharing stories and looking at the family tree.

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Guten Tag from Germany – The International Winter Academy

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

Written by Kat Li, Foster School undergraduate student

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Since the course schedule of the University of Mannheim is not really in sync with that of UW’s, I had the opportunity to arrive a month beforehand and participate in the University’s International Winter Academy. It’s basically an intensive German language course (4 hours per day, 5 days a week!) lasting the entire month of January. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to take it at first (instead of traveling around Europe for a month), but it turned out to be a great decision.

Because of the sheer amount of hours spent each day in class, my German improved dramatically. I went from only being about to understand really basic phrases to being able to understand, speak and read significantly better. In addition to the classes in the morning/afternoon, there were optional seminars we could attend in the evenings. Their topics ranged from grammar and phonetics to German history and literature.

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And no, it wasn’t all work! There were excursions 2-3 times a week to neighboring cities and attractions within Mannheim. One memorable trip I went on was to Heidelberg, an old city completely un-destroyed during WWII. We took a tour of the ruins of the castle there, which was destroyed by the French in the 17th century. Inside was the largest wine barrel I’ve ever seen, with a capacity of around 220,000 liters!

Finally, because only about 80 international students attended the Winter Academy, we became a pretty close group. We were able to become good friends before the huge group of about 600 international students arrived in February. Participating in the Winter Academy was wunderbar and now I’m looking forward to starting the semester!

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Mannheim is gorgeous!

Wednesday, December 26th, 2012

Here is a photo of Mannheim’s campus. Don’t you wish you could go to school in a castle?

Ich liebe Deutschland

Monday, March 26th, 2012

By: Cassandra Bass, Foster Undergraduate

Wow, it’s impossible to believe that it’s already December. In about 2 weeks I’ll be back in America and the only thing I can think is that I never want to leave Germany. A fair warning to anyone traveling to Germany during the winter; bring extremely warm clothes! Luckily, Mannheim is one of the warmest cities in Germany but even so, it’s been below freezing for some time now. Right now is finals time in Mannheim, so the students are pretty much on study lockdown. Even so, they still manage to get out every week to do something fun. Germans are incredible at multi-tasking :)

 On the studying note, I had to do a couple presentations this semester for some of my classes. I did some in German and some in English and I have to say that my German presentation partners were amazing. They are extremely on top of their work. I was especially impressed with the Germans in my English literature class. I swear that some of them can speak better English than me. The teachers here are also really flexible when it comes to exchange students. One of my teachers changed all the deadlines for my final paper for me, so I could turn it in early and she is correcting it quickly so I can take it home.

 Right now is Christmas season in Germany, which is a big deal. There are Christmas Markets in every town, where you can buy crafts and German food and most especially, Glühwein. It’s basically like stepping into a children’s Christmas picture book right now in Mannheim. If you are in Mannheim definitely make it over to Heidelberg, a town 20 minutes away by train. It’s an old, picturesque town with more tourists than Mannheim, but also with some really cool concerts in random places all the time. Germans love having concerts and parties in abandoned factories…so expect to end up partying in a random warehouse at some point in time if you ever study abroad here.

On that note, I have to say that everyone who goes to Europe should really check out Berlin. I went there for a long weekend and fell in love with the city. Everywhere you look there is something crazy going on: a protest here, an abandoned apartment building full of squatting artists there, and the history of the town is amazing. Berlin really never sleeps. People generally stay out until around 7am at least and there are some clubs that don’t even open until 8am so that you can go there to keep dancing after the other clubs close.

I’ve done a fair bit of traveling since being in Germany and I found that I really enjoyed all my travels into Eastern Europe. I went to Prague with a group of people and was amazed by how beautiful the city was. Most cities usually have a pretty old town and then a more modern, less attractive industrial part of town, but Prague was gorgeous everywhere. I couldn’t put my camera down. I also went into the countryside in the Czech Republic to a smaller town where they have natural mineral water springs. I would really encourage people to go into the smaller, less touristy towns when traveling around. You really get a better grasp of the people.

I also went to Krakow, Poland in November. Again, I was so impressed with how historic and pretty the city was. My hostel was right on the main market square where you could hear the street performers singing opera or watch fire dancers on the streets through your window. I went to see Auschwitz, which was extremely intense, but also an important thing to see I think. It was insane to realize how recent Poland’s history is. One polish lady was telling me all about the communist era and how it really wasn’t all that long ago and everyone was still feeling the effects. Here I went to a small town in the mountains near the border of Slovakia and saw the most beautiful wooden houses. The architecture of the mountain people in Poland was amazing.

So, I would definitely recommend traveling to some countries that might not be the first thing you think of when in Europe. Paris was nice, but I would go back to Eastern Europe in a heartbeat.

Time of My Life

Monday, September 26th, 2011

By: Cassandra Bass, Foster Undergraduate

So, to introduce myself I’m Cassandra Bass, am studying Marketing, and am in my third year at Foster. Wow, Germany, where to start? I have already been here in Mannheim, Germany for two months and am having the time of my life. Germany is such an amazing country with incredible people and beautiful cities and culture. Coming here to study abroad is probably the best decision I’ve made so far in my college career. Before I arrived I was worried that I might have a difficult time meeting a lot of native Germans, and I might spend the majority of my time with other international students. Nothing against other international students (I’ve met people from all over the world and it is amazing!), but I just really wanted a true German experience. Luckily, I’ve found it very easy to meet Germans and fit in with the culture here.

I think that one of the best choices I made concerning my study abroad program was deciding to attend the Summer Academy here at Mannheim. It’s a month long intensive German seminar before the fall semester starts. It gave me a good chance to familiarize myself with the city, meet many other international students, improve my language skills, and also meet a lot of Germans. I would highly encourage anyone who is considering attending the University of Mannheim to attend the Summer Academy. They offer excursions every weekend to help you get out and see the sights. I went to the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, canoed to Heidelberg, went wine-tasting in the countryside, and went on a brewery tour in Mannheim all in my first month here!

Before I came to Mannheim, my original plan was to live in student housing. At first, when all the housing filled up and I realized I was going to have to find an apartment in Mannheim I was pretty scared. However, I found an apartment where I live with two German students and another exchange student from Australia. In the end, the fact that I wasn’t able to get into student housing was a stroke of extremely good luck. Living with Germans has allowed me the chance to constantly speak German and to see another side of Mannheim that I might not have been introduced to if I hadn’t had many close German friends. On the topic of student housing, if you are considering coming to Mannheim I would really recommend not choosing to live in a dorm. The majority of the dorms are located fairly far from campus and aren’t the cleanest. I would recommend finding an apartment to sublease with German students. It will guarantee you the best cultural experience here in Mannheim.

The city of Mannheim itself is great. It’s about 300,000 people so it’s not the largest city in Germany, but it’s big enough to still offer good nightlife and culture and small enough to navigate easily. The university itself sponsors a lot of the nightlife, which is actually very fun, and thousands of students show up every week to their events. VISUM, a student organization here on campus, also organizes parties and events to help international students meet each other and other German students. They have a buddy program too, which is helpful if you want a German contact immediately upon your arrival in Mannheim to help answer your questions. Overall, German efficiency is everywhere here, making it easy to organize anything having to do with school, living, traveling, etc. Most Germans speak fairly good English so even if you don’t speak German it’s easy to get by. On that subject, you will have to go through some formalities registering as a resident of the city and country through the city hall here in Mannheim. This can be challenging if you don’t speak any German. However, most Germans and other internationals who know German are very friendly and willing to help out!

So I guess I should mention the school itself. The University of Mannheim is known in Europe for being one of the top business schools, and you definitely get the feeling that it is when you are here. If you tell anyone from Germany that you are attending the Uni Mannheim they are always impressed and tell you what good opportunities you will have. So far, I’ve found this to be true in my classes. All of my professors are great and extremely interesting. The registration process is fairly simple. Even if you don’t register for a class and still want to join it, professors are very open to international students just showing up on the first day and signing up there. Well, that’s all I have for now. Until next time, tschüss!