Economics, International Business, German Minor
The beginnings of a new beginning
The heritage of my family, from what I know, goes all the way back to Hamburg, Germany starting in the 19th century. My grandparents’ parents’ names were Wilhelm and Fredericka, typical German names for that time period. Since I found that out, I’ve always had the desire to study abroad in Germany. Never having been outside of the U.S. I’ve always been a bit hesitant to do travel. At the beginning of my sophomore year I started getting prepared for what I found out would be an eye-opening junior year in Germany.
The city of Mannheim is roughly 328,000 people, which is a bit larger than Greensboro. The difference between Mannheim and Greensboro, however, is that Mannheim is a very centralized city with a few outlying neighborhoods, whereas Greensboro is quite spread-out.
Germany has a different education system than we do here in the United States. Most classes meet once a week for an hour and a half. Some classes, called “seminars”, meet at some point in the middle of the semester for three days for two weeks. Attendance is generally not taken, which allows quite a bit of independence for students. Also, a typical class will have one final exam and on occasion a midterm exam. Those are the only things that count towards the grade you receive in that course. All these aspects combined to help me respond to the added responsibility for my grade and also allowed me to develop better study habits.
Housing in Mannheim is in the form of apartment-style dormitories located in different parts of the city. Since Germany has a fantastic network of public transportation, getting to and from the university was never a problem. I lived with five other roommates in my apartment, which had two bathrooms, a shower, and a communal kitchen. My dormitory (Ulmenweg) had a restaurant, as well as a common party room which has a foosball table, a ping pong table, a projector TV, and tons of games that students can play. Ulmenweg was in a really good location when it came time to get groceries. There were two grocery stores within five minutes of walking. There was also a Wal-Mart style store called “Marktkauf” that was about 15 minutes away.
One of the best things about Germany is that it’s right in the heart of Europe! I was able to travel to many different countries like Italy, England, the Netherlands, Spain, France, Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, and Croatia. There’s a European airline called Ryan Air that sells airfare at a discount. I flew to Spain for about 30 euros including taxes. Renting a car is also an option as well as taking a train all around Europe which is an experience everyone should have! Mannheim University has a superb international organization for students, which make it extremely easy to travel places with other students. I never took a trip alone!
The Bottom Line
My year abroad in Mannheim really gave me a unique perspective that you can’t get from just studying in the U.S. for four years. Not only did I get the experience, but I got a network of friends all around the world. I’ve had friends from around the world come to visit here in Greensboro. Studying abroad also gives students a competitive advantage when it comes to your résumé. It’s amazing how many times someone will ask you to send your résumé to their boss when you tell them that you studied abroad. You have so much to gain and so very little to give up when you study abroad!