Rebecca – Semester Exchange to Mannheim University, Germany
Semester 2, 2016
This semester I am doing my study abroad program at the University of Mannheim in Germany. In my third week here, I’ve found Germany to be different, yet similar, to my hometown of Melbourne. A great part of studying in Mannheim is the great public transport system it has, with trams running every ten or so minutes that take you straight into town and buses running frequently as well. This was one aspect that drew me to apply to study in Mannheim, and it definitely makes getting to class and socialize easy and cost effective.
One thing I wasn’t expecting when I arrived was the heat. Germany, and many other parts of Europe, are currently going through an unseasonal warm patch, with the temperature being upwards of 30 degrees every day since I arrived. Coming from the Melbourne winter, this has been tough! My student accommodation is quite basic, meaning that there’s no air conditioning or fans in the rooms, and unlike in Australia, the university and many of the shops don’t have any air conditioning either so its hard to find relief.
While the first weekend was tough, once I made friends things started to turn around. One thing about Mannheim is that it is essentially a ‘university town’, with something on most nights during the week. From the Stammtisch held every Monday, to the parties at the Schneckenhof every Thursday, there’s no shortage of ways to meet new people from around the globe. You tend to meet people wherever you are – at the bank, waiting for the tram, in the local grocery store. You name it, and I’ve met someone new there!
The good think about a ‘university town’ such as Mannheim is that the students tend to clump together. For instance, I’m staying in the largest student housing area, known as Ulmenweg. Here there are about six separate buildings full of individual apartments for students. This makes it easy to catch up with friends for dinner, go for a stroll around the local neighborhood, and meet up before the student parties.
The highlight of being in Mannheim so far was the Schlossfest, held in the area in front of the Palace, which is known as ‘Schloss’ in German. The roof of the Schloss was open for the only time during the year, and the view from the top was incredible. From the ground, Mannheim is a very flat city, however from the top of the Palace you can see the true height and history of the city. We’re never short of anything to do here, and despite the shops being closed on the Sunday, we headed to the nearby town of Bad Dürkheim which was hosting the worlds largest wine festival. Despite going late in the afternoon, it was still quite popular, and very German. In some ways it reminded me of the festivals held in Melbourne on the banks of the Yarra, however this one was on such a large scale it was hard to see everything it had to offer. Nestled in between local, family run wineries, the festival was a great way to learn about the German culture and see what the local area has to offer not only for students, but for the wider community.
While my first few days in Mannheim were tough, now that I’ve settled in I’m excited to see what the next few months has to offer. I’ve already made some great friends that I know I’ll have for life! While the experience so far has been harder than I thought it was going to be, I can already tell that it’s going to be an experience that I’m never going to forget.