Ping - Universität Mannheim

M. Commerece
Semester 2, 2014

Academic experience

I took 4 courses from my major (Information Systems), and 2 cultural courses from Universität Mannheim Service und Marketing GmbH, in order to get a better understanding of Germany. 

Some of the lecturers have vast industry experience so they were able to provide many industry examples and invited industry experts to give guest lectures. As a result, we can get to know about some of the latest projects and trends. Content-wise I'd say it's not very different from UQ. Regarding assessment, there is usually only one final exam which lasts 1 - 2 hours. It's a lot of memorisation (at least from what I've heard and my personal experience) and not about applying what you have learned. 

The new version (Sem 2, 2014) of student portal was considered a failure by both academic staff and students. It's not intuitive so you have to spend some time on figuring out some of the functions.

Personal experience

The most amazing experience was that I made friends from around the globe. VISUM is a student organisation that organises several activities per week especially for exchange students, ranging from cities trips, Stammtisch to themed parties. While it's always fun to spend time with fellow exchange students (there will always be spontaneous weekend trips with new friends), also tried to spend some time with Germans so that you can practise the language. 

Apart from VISUM, the business school and many other student groups also organised good events. I went for several hiking trips (Institute for Sports) and organisation field trips (European Parliament, and German Bundesbank, Frankfurt Stock Exchange and BASF). I also managed to get in touch with a very kind and nice local family through SMD Mannheim. 

So do your homework on information searching! Internet, word of mouths, friends, university, there is always a lot going on and you just need to know what's happening and deciding on what you will be interested in.

Accommodation

I lived in Ulmenweg, one of the student accommodations available for booking through the exchange student portal. It's far from campus (that's a general opinion, while I found 20mins bus is quite acceptable), but there are a lot of students and it sort of forms a community of its own. I had so many wonderful dining and chatting sessions with friends I made along the semester. I didn't really party but if you do then transportation will probably be an issue as the last bus running from city stops at 1 am. There's a tram under construction though, so the situation might improve once the tram is up and running.

Budget

Neuschwanstein
Neuschwanstein

I won't give a range here as it really depends. Rent would definitely be cheaper compared to Brisbane, but how much cheaper will depends on what kind of place you live in. If you cook then it's going to be cheap, otherwise, Mensa (the cafeteria) also provides good deals compared to restaurants. You can find this information online or through brochures from VISUM. 

Try to get a semester ticket! By rule student going for 1-semester exchange will need to pay for it (150 euro), however, do ask for it because some people get it for free. This is one of the lessons - don't take things as they are, always be open minded and ask for help. Oftentimes you will be rewarded! 

The bus is usually the cheapest transportation. But don't take it for granted, do your research if you want to save! Carpooling, car rental, flights, deals from not only the German rail but also French, Austrian, and Swiss, there are plenty of alternatives out there.

Professional development and employability

I've learned to better appreciate the differences across countries, continents or cultures. By becoming more open-minded I cultivate my intellectual curiosity, and I was able to hold conversations on not only my area of studies but across various topics such as politics, culture, economy, business, and technology. I've also made connections with classmates working in the industry and now involved in a German startup.

Highlight

A two day trip to Berlin with a group of 50 people.

Top tips

  • Don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. 
  • Actively explore opportunities through various channels. 
  • Experience local culture, act as locals at least for several times! 
  • Sign up for a VISUM buddy! My buddy Andreea really helped me a lot. Thanks again Andreea!
Ping - Universität Mannheim