Larissa - Universität Mannheim

B. Business Management / Arts
Semester 1, 2015

Academic experience

At Mannheim, I studied Marketing Management Decisions (MKT 351) and Strategic Marketing in Specific Industry Contexts (MKT 401) at the undergraduate level and Global Marketing (MKT 621), Interactive Marketing (MKT 662), and Communications Management (MKT 614) at the postgraduate level. I also had the opportunity to take two German culture courses thanks to my Bachelor of Arts degree, and these two were Germany at a Glance and German Language Beginners.

It looks like a lot of courses for one semester but generally, I found the workload to be a lot less intense than at UQ. For instance, a couple of my courses didn’t last the entire semester, with one finishing half way through and another being taught intensively over only two days. However, I think it’s important to note that lectures are not recorded at Universität Mannheim, so this is something you should take into account when planning your timetable as it could impact which courses you could feasibly take.

Academically, I most enjoyed being able to undertake postgraduate level marketing courses, even though I’m an undergraduate, because I found these courses especially engaging, as they were often conducted in tutorial-sized groups, and I loved the fact that they went into detail on topics that I simply would not have had the equivalent opportunity to study as part of my degree at UQ. 

Although, the biggest challenge with the different academic system was that some courses had 100% final exams and were structured to have an emphasis on word-for-word memorisation of content over being able to interpret and apply it. Thankfully, several of my courses had included more hands-on group or individual assignments earlier in the semester, so only three of my courses were like this, however it does still mean that it’s essential to allow enough time to study for your exams. Nevertheless, all the professors I had were highly skilled and leaders in their field, and consequently learning the material for the exams wasn’t nearly as odious as it could have been.

Personal experience

I gained so much from my exchange at Universität Mannheim. I learnt basic German, travelled to over 15 countries within Europe and the UK, got to study under some amazing professors, as well as making friends from all over the world. I also had time after my exchange to do both Topdeck and Contiki tours around Europe, which resulted in more friends and more great experiences. 
The international student organisation, VISUM, was fantastic too. There were events to attend every week from pub nights, to large-scale themed parties, to English cinema days, to weekend and day trips to other cities/countries. I would definitely recommend joining their Facebook group or signing up for their newsletter. Some of the faculties also run events. For example, I went on a guided Herxheim’s vineyards and wine-tasting tour organised by BESS (Business Exchange Student Support) that was excellent value for money, another great experience, and a perfect chance to explore a nearby town of Mannheim. Also just simply getting the opportunity to study inside Germany’s largest baroque palace was a phenomenal experience in itself!


During my exchange, I lived at the off-campus student residence of Ulmenweg, which is about a 15-20 minute bus ride from campus. By Brisbane standards, it would be considered fairly close but it’s actually one of the outer residences. Nonetheless, I enjoyed my time at Ulmenweg. It was basic but sufficient for one semester, and because Ulmenweg is essentially a small “village” of giant houses with multiple apartments inside, a large portion of students live there, so students often have BBQs together outside or can go to the small onsite bar and games room. It’s also super close to supermarkets, which made grocery shopping easy. There was a Lidl supermarket less than 2 minutes walk from my residence. 
I think one of the coolest benefits though was that there is an exercise room in one of the buildings where you can do free exercise classes like Zumba, Pilates, Latin dancing, etc., as well as play regular sports. 
The only potential disadvantage, in my opinion, was that the bus from the city centre back to Ulmenweg stops running at a bit after 1 am, which could get annoying if you were always staying out late. However, some of the closer-in residences are also affected by this. Additionally, Hafenstraße (a popular residence) for example, is a fair walk away from the nearest tram station, which one usually needs to take if you’re, say, catching a really early long-distance bus or train for a weekend trip away, whereas Ulemweg is significantly closer to tram stops. Ulmenweg also has a very safe vibe even late at night because it is nestled in a suburb with lots of young families.


Mannheim Wasserturm
Mannheim Wasserturm

On the whole, I found almost everything to be cheaper in Mannheim than it is in Brisbane. I would say to allocate less than your normal budget for regular expenses like food, rent, and transport, then just figure out how much you would like to spend on travel/experiences on top of that. 
One great thing about Universität Mannheim is that you don’t have to buy any textbooks. There are hundreds of copies of all the required ones and you’re allowed to loan them for a whole month at a time, so it’s a really good money saver.
I would also recommend buying a semester ticket (valid for bus, tram, and train) because it’s only 150€ for six months and it can be used as frequently as you like, plus it spans quite a large region into a lot of other towns than just Mannheim.
I purchased a Bahn25 card to save money on long-distance trains but I ended up regretting it because even with the discount I could rarely justify the extra cost of catching a train overtaking a bus (often more than double the cost) or even flying. GoEuro and Skyscanner are both good sites/apps for finding cheap buses and flights, respectively. Bla Bla Car is also very popular for ridesharing in Europe. Also, make the most of various student travel companies like Pm2Am and trips organised by VISUM in order to save money and meet more people.

Professional development and employability

Going on exchange to a country where I did not speak the official language did present challenges at times but learning to overcome these and embrace the new country and culture as well undoubtedly made me more resilient to change and better at overcoming obstacles. I believe both these skills will one day greatly help me in the workforce and increase my employability.
From an academic perspective, it was a privilege to get to attend the consistently highest ranked business school in Germany. Being able to put that fact on my résumé is a huge benefit in itself, but in addition, due to Universität Mannheim’s prestige, we also had guest speaker lectures from people like Stefan Hentschel, Google Germany’s Head of Industry Leader Technology & Mobile Advertising, and Ansgar Hoelscher, the VP of Marketing Intelligence & Innovation at Beiersdorf (the company behind Nivea); both remarkable presenters who possess practically unparalleled industry knowledge. What’s more, being allowed to take postgraduate courses as an undergraduate further improved my academic development and stimulated my interest in areas of marketing that I had not previously been exposed to.


The single highlight of my experience would probably have to be meeting up with one of my best friends, who was doing her exchange in Austria, and spending 2 weeks travelling around Scotland, London, Naples, Sorrento, and the Amalfi Coast of Italy during our Easter breaks. Absolutely unforgettable!

Top tips

  • Don’t disregard Mannheim just because it’s not one of the super well-known German cities! It’s a fabulous student city and is very well connected to everything.
  • Be sure to try Spaghettieis when it Mannheim! It is an ice-cream dish that was first created in Mannheim and is made to resemble a plate of spaghetti.
  • Bring an Australian powerboard as you will struggle to find Australian adapters in Europe.
  • Make the most of student, faculty, and travel organisations that organise trips and events.
  • When borrowing textbooks, first try the Lehrbuchsammlung (in EW of the Palace) because it’s not as well known and you can usually borrow your textbook right away without having to wait.
  • Use you semesterticket to travel part of the way to places. For example, you’re travelling from Mannheim to Stuttgart, your semesterticket covers you up until Heilbronn, so only pay for a ticket from Heilbronn to Stuttgart.
  • Register for a VISUM buddy before you arrive! Mine picked me up from the train station and even bought me some groceries. It was also great to have that initial point of contact.
  • You may want to pack some Aussie merchandise for special occasions, for example when I was there, our VISUM welcome party was themed “Raise your flag,” so I was glad I’d thought to pack something to wear 
  • If you need to buy some cheap things such as extra blankets or a towel for your room, try Woolworth on T1. It’s not the same as our supermarkets in Australia but instead has a huge range of cheap, decent-quality products.
  • Take note that almost everything is closed in Germany on a Sunday, including supermarkets! I was aware of this before leaving but due to a stuff up on the part of Student Flights (not the branch on campus) I ended up having to fly in on a Sunday morning and was unable to buy some essential things I needed.
  • et the DB Navigator app as the transport function of Google Maps is not yet well established and this app is far more reliable and can navigate you directly to stops.
  • Never let fear get in the way of an amazing experience!
Larissa - Universität Mannheim