Jessica in Germany
Universitäet Mannheim//Mannheim//Germany//Semester Two in 2013
The Study Overseas Program has given me knowledge that I would not have received studying at USC. I experienced not only the German culture but the other cultures of the friends that I have made. It is a program that I would recommend to anyone because it has seriously changed my outlook on university and life in general.
I arrived in Mannheim via train from Paris which only took three hours. At first glance the city only has a few distinct German buildings but it was an amazing city. It doesn’t have the traditional German houses but that is only because it was destroyed in World War Two and had to be rebuilt. The city has a grid layout which made it really easy to navigate when I spoke very little German before leaving. The tram and bus system around Mannheim was great and made it easy to get places. Mannheim citizens speak relatively good English because the domestic students are required to learn in English and German as well as the fact that there is lots of international business conducted in Mannheim which is carried out in English.
Whilst in Germany I went to multiple sporting and cultural events which were amazing. As mentioned earlier I went to world’s largest beer festival, Oktoberfest. Nearby the world’s largest wine festival, Wurstfest, takes place in Dürkheim. Heidelberg held a Herbstfest or Autumn Festival. I also attended multiple Christmas markets and enjoyed a mug of Glühwein. Sport is such a huge part of the German culture so I went and saw ice hockey, soccer (better known as football) and European handball as well as watching the international students soccer team in the local tournament every week.
The university itself was absolutely stunning. It is in a baroque palace which happens to be the second largest in the world after Versailles near Paris. They offer a wide range of courses in English and also have classes specialised for exchange students such as ‘Marketing in Germany’ as well as language classes for all levels. The courses taught are noticeably harder than the ones taught at USC. The domestic students take their study very seriously because there is generally only one piece of assessment for each course and it is a 100% exam where they examine everything over the semester. The international office is very helpful when choosing and switching courses.
Universitäet Mannheim has tried to better align their semesters with foreign universities. Their fall semester started in September and exams were finished in mid-December unlike other German exchange partners where you are required to start in October and finish in February the following year. I was able to do some more travelling and was in Prague, Czech Republic for a white Christmas and in Berlin for New Year’s Eve which was a great experience.
Must dos: Oktoberfest, Wurstfest, VISUM pub crawl, Mannheim public pool, go to a secret screening movie at the cinemas and study.
Places to eat: Sammos Café, Azteca, City Döner, Café Vienna, Mensa, Istanbul and Wittkopp Burgers.
Night Life: student parties, Stammtisch, Schneckenhof/catacombs, Nelsons, Zimmer, Genesis, Soho, Tiffanys, Filmriss and VISUM night.