Here is a photo of Mannheim’s campus. Don’t you wish you could go to school in a castle?
University of Mannheim
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.
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!
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!
My name is Tanor Johnson, and I am a Junior with a finance concentration in the Foster School. I am currently spending spring semester at the University of Mannheim in Mannheim, Germany. Mannheim is a great city with plenty to do. It is fairly large with the University and the train station being the two main areas of the city. So far my time here in Germany has been a blast. Classes are much different than at UW and many of them only meet once a week. Because my schedule allows me to have Thursdays and Fridays off, I have been able to take weekend trips to many places.
I am living in a student dorm “Am Steingarten” which is about a 10 minute bus ride from campus. There is a good mix of German, Polish, American, Turkish, and other students living in my dorm. It was tough at first to get around the city and ask for directions, but after a short period of time you get the hang of where things are and how to ask the basics in German. The school has a student organization called VISUM that plans parties, dinners, day trips, pub crawls, and weekend activities all throughout the semester. You receive an entire semester schedule of these events and it makes meeting international students extremely easy and fun. Many of the parties are held in the University, which is a big baroque palace.
Some of the recommendations that I would make to future University of Mannheim students is the following:
- Take advantage of Germany’s small size and travel with a Bahn Discount Card (purchase at any Deutsche Bahn central train station)
- Take part in unique national celebrations (i.e. Karneval, Oktoberfest, etc.)
- Take part in unique local celebrations (i.e. Maimarkt (early May), Dance into May (May 1st), Karneval festivities)
- Participate in all of the VISUM activities and trips (coordinated by the school organization)
- Utilize VISUM’s website for ideas for activities and the “good deals” around town they suggest
- Attend the faculty parties (i.e. in the Katacombs and the Schnekenhof)
- Seek out local food and drink (i.e. regional Flammkuchen, Currywurst mit Pommes, and wide array of German beers and wines!)
While this list is clearly not inclusive of all that a Uni of Mannheim exchange student should take part in, it is a start to getting really submerged into the culture of the Uni of Mannheim and Germany as a whole!
While talking to friends and family while abroad in Germany, the most common question I am asked is ‘what are the biggest differences from home in the States to Germany?’ My answer is that the biggest, and most blatantly obvious, difference is the language. Further, that the German language did seem to be somewhat overwhelming at first to try and pick up because of its vast distinction from English, and its seemingly robust sound to my English-speaking ears.
Following language differences, I always respond that there are also general ‘European distinctions’ in Germany for the everyday way of life. For example, in my experiences traveling to Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and England, I have found some very consistent ‘European culture’ similarities. Some of these similarities include the pace of life being slower with the grocery stores and retail shops having shorter hours and strictly being closed on Sundays and holidays, and the requirement to request the check while dining at a restaurant rather than having it pushed on you while you are still eating.
Another ‘European distinction’ I came across while living in Germany was the maturity of the public transportation systems in place. In nearly all of the major cities I have visited in Germany and in other European nations, there is always exceptional public transportation! Most of the cities I have visited have an underground subway system, street-level tram system, and buses. This makes it very easy to travel throughout the city, for a very marginal cost.
The final big ‘European distinction’ I encountered during my time abroad… was that Germans, or Europeans in general by in large, are able to party for very long amounts of time!! For example a typical evening out would be to start the night by gathering together for some pre-party activities around 8:00pm, head to the party/event around 10:30pm, go to a club or bar for an after-party-party around 1:30am, and then end the night with grabbing some Döner Kebab around 5:00am. This party itinerary certainly took some getting used to, but it sure was a lot of fun! J
Moving to Germany for my semester abroad was a very smooth transition. Some of the stereotypical elements of Germany ended up holding true. For example, German’s commitment to efficiency (i.e. with timely public transportation arrivals/departures); however, others things such as the ‘coldness’ that supposedly comes along with the efficiency loving Germans has not seemed to be true in my experiences. Rather I have found that Germans, and the culture that they perpetuate, do in fact pride themselves on efficient, well running systems but the people are still able to remain very warm, humble, fun-loving, and friendly. I personally feel that in Germany you are able to get the best of both worlds… one being efficient and reliable infrastructural systems and the other being humble, fun-loving people!
The fact that the German culture is efficient yet warmly welcoming, allowed for me to have a very smooth and virtually stress-free transition. For example, the highly efficient transportation systems in place allowed me to get from the Frankfurt Main Airport by the German Train to Mannheim’s Central Rail Station, then from the station by street cart to my apartment across the river. However the helpful people along my way were able to happily assist me when I had questions regarding how to use the different transportation systems.
This same sort of experience of benefiting from both the efficient system in place, and the friendly people has been consistent throughout my stay here in Germany so far. Another example is in my classes, or even going to organized school parties with several different phases to the party. All in all, I would say that Germany has been a very smooth transition for me, and I have loved every moment of my time here!! I will be so sad to return home!!!