The Definitive Guide to… Reutlingen University, Germany!

ESB Business School, part of Reutlingen University, is one of Germany’s most highly regarded management schools, winning Germany’s International University of the Year 2010.  We have collated advice from our students to give you up-to-date information about studying here.

Getting there on your first day in Germany

The cheapest way is to travel by bus – the stop is right in front of the airport exit. The Expresso bus (X3) from Stuttgart Airport to Reutlingen runs once an hour from early in the morning to late in the evening. Services on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays are also available. The journey takes about 45 minutes and costs around €6. Upon arrival in Reutlingen city (exit at the Stadtmitte bus stop), catch another bus, No. 4 or No. 11 (direction Hohbuch). This will take you to the ESB campus (approx. 10 minutes). Get off at the Hochschulen bus stop or directly in the Pestalozzistraße to arrive at your accommodation.

Reutlingen University & campus life

‘Reutlingen’s campus is much smaller than Exeter but there is everything you need. The Mensa is amazing, with delicious cheap food at lunch, although I never worked out what some of the dishes were… Zweiterfruehstuck is definitely recommended as there were some amazing pastries and coffees!’ – Hania T.

‘There are supermarkets just 20m away, or if you want more choice, you can walk just 10 minutes further! There is also a bank and pharmacy at either end of the campus. The doctors is very easy to find. There are 2 bus stops right by the halls and campus that take you directly to town. They run like clockwork, usually every 10 minutes during the day and every half an hour on evenings and weekends. The University has a sports hall, studio etc. where you can go along to free classes from Aerobics, Yoga etc. or just join in with basketball, football, badminton etc. You can find a sports timetable online at beginning of semester. There aren’t really teams you can train with to compete (like at Exeter) but it’s very casual, so you can just go along when you fancy it. There’s a nice place you can run behind the Reutlingen football stadium behind the campus.’ – Sara P.

The city

Reutlingen lies in one of the most scenically attractive areas of Germany. Hills, caves, waterfalls, castles and stately homes, mediaeval villages and thermal spas are attractive destinations for short excursions.

‘Reutlingen is a very picturesque market town with amazing cafes, bars and nightclubs with electro nights. Travelling by train to Tuebingen, the famous University city on the Nectar river, is definitely worth it, around 15 minutes away, with more nightlife as well. Stuttgart’s bars, clubs and shopping centres are a 30 minutes train journey away, and there are lots of beer festivals held here throughout the year, where the university hires a large tent for the students of the university!’ – Hania T.

‘Reutlingen is a very sweet little town in the South of Germany, near the city of Stuttgart. It is in a beautiful part of Germany, sitting in a valley of the Swabian Alb, near the Black Forrest. It is a small town, so very easy to find your way around – you can find everything you need there; shops, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, a gym, swimming pools, bowling, cinema etc. The town centre is just a 10 minute bus ride from campus, or a 15 minute walk. If you are used to a bigger city life, Stuttgart is just 40 minutes on the train for better shopping opportunities, nightlife etc. if needed. The weather is quite predictable, although I was expecting more snow! It is generally quite cold in the winter (down to -5°C), but much hotter in the summer (with many fantastic thunderstorms!).’ – Sara P

Accommodation

 Finding a place to stay can be one of the most challenging tasks when relocating to a foreign country.

‘Accommodation in Reutlingen can be extremely cheap, convenient and fun, but it can also be a nightmare. Therefore my recommendation is sort it out very early. I also can’t emphasise enough how much I would recommend applying for the student accommodation. I was sharing a floor and facilities with 17 other students and although this sounds like a lot, it works. I myself was living with Germans, Russians, Americans and Mexicans and I found this really accelerates cultural understanding. You will also meet people from your course as well as people from the other business school and the other schools, such as the teaching college and the textile school. Applications need to be in well in advance and with all the requested information and documents. Opportunities for cheap and good quality accommodation in the town are minimal, and you could end up paying a lot for an ex-hotel room, with absolutely no cooking facilities.’ – James G.

‘The halls of residence on campus are all extremely reasonably priced and very sociable. Studentwerk Reutlingen offers three very halls: Theodor Litthaus has a beach themed bar in the basement and has been recently refurbished, the Wurmhaus next door is smaller and the Adolfreichwein is slightly older. Slightly more expensive, but more stylish is the hall of residence on campus run by Studentwerk Tuebingen, known as the Aquarium due to its circular glass appearance.’ – Hania T.

‘To avoid too much accommodation stress, I recommend applying early. The GWG is used to dealing with international students and they do a great job of allocating places. Student accommodation are on Pestalozzistraβe, which is also where Campus is located, so they really are ideal. Plus this is also where most of the parties are situated. I lived in Adolf and I loved it. Great atmosphere, great mixture of people, great sunsets. This of course is in contrast to living in town. I have many friends who chose to find their own accommodation and they sadly regretted their decision.’  – Ada A.

‘I would recommend applying for student halls with the GWG, you will receive all the forms when you apply to the Fachhochschule. The halls are of a good standard with single rooms of a decent size – generally very clean. You will share a kitchen, showers etc. with others (usually a good mix of students from all over the world!) which are cleaned regularly. I took on the role as a floor speaker (had to pay less rent!) so arranging floor meals etc. really helped me get to know my ‘Mitbewohner’. If you decide to get your own flat off campus, you will have to organise this yourself. The rent is much lower than you would pay in Exeter, but I strongly recommend living in halls to meet more people and enjoy the experience.’  – Sara P.

Social Life

‘I had a fantastic time in Reutlingen and met so many fantastic new people. It is important to get to know some German students, so you learn more about the culture and to help your language. As an English student, people will take the opportunity to practice their English with you. You will not learn any German this way! From my experience, once you establish a language with someone, it stays that way. So start off speaking German as much as you can (even if you struggle), because you can always ask in English if you need to. There is a bar on campus – CaRE – open a couple nights a week where you can get some cheap drinks, dance, play pool etc. and the bars in the halls are open regularly, usually themed nights put on by students to raise money for the floor. You can also venture out to Tübingen or even Stuttgart for something different – Stuttgart is quite a happening city in terms of nightlife!’ – Sara P.

‘Most student parties take place around the campus area, and the general attitude is work hard-play hard. At the beginning of each semester, the parties are numerous and constant. This is the best time to make friends with the German students, as they tend to settle down after the first couple of weeks. However, you will never be short of exchange student friends’ – Ada A.

‘The whole style of socialising in Germany is quite different from that of England and this cultural difference is one of many that you have to learn to adapt to in addition to learning the language. The main difference with regards to pubs and clubs is the time scale. Things tend to kick off towards what you might consider to be nearly the end of a night out in England. Pubs are generally open to three or four in the morning and clubs until even later. However in Reutlingen things tend to be very laid back, so you shouldn’t expect extravagant events every night of the week in town.’ – James G.

Studying 

Students at ESB are taught in classes of small, multicultural groups with close contact with professors. The structure and global focus of all of the programs allow you to improve team work and intercultural skills.

‘Lectures are offered in German and English, but I found the classes taught in both languages are useful to learn to switch between them easily. Lectures do start very early at 7.30 and last an hour and half, so double lectures can see long, but the lecturer often takes a Rauchenpause.’ – Hania T.

‘The staff are all very helpful and easy to find in their rooms. As an exchange student, you can expect to not have too many classes – especially compared to the German students who have 25 hours of classes a week at least! Lectures are 1 ½ hours long, or a double is 3 hours with a 15 minute break in-between – I recommend taking a snack and drink to help you keep going! You have a big choice of classes, in German or English (or other languages) at different levels. You are not restricted to doing modules only from your year of study, although it is cheating a bit if you just take first year modules! It is unlikely you will struggle with a subject, especially as many are offered specifically for foreign exchange students, but do discuss it with staff if you do have problems. Try to talk to German students if you can, to help your German but they also have a different style of studying. ‘Fleissig’ is the only way to describe them!.’ – Sara P

‘Regardless of your fluency, I would not recommend burdening yourself with too many lectures. The permanent students are constantly loaded with university work and even the 1st year German students struggle to keep up with their studies. Furthermore, your Erasmus year is about travelling. Thus I recommend a well balanced schedule which allows for this. Initially you might struggle, thinking it is impossible to make up 30 ECTS credits per semester when each module is usually around 5 credits and demands 3 hours per week. But it only needs careful consideration, and perhaps signing up for the Pre-Semester Language Course (7.5credits). I would suggest not aiming too high initially with module choices or opting for only modules taught in English. Remember you are there to immerse yourself in the language but taking Business law in German is a whole new ball game, so think wisely.’ – Ada A.

‘While the times of a few lectures may seem a bit severe, the actual content can be very manageable, if modules are chosen with thought. The international office offers slightly easier courses such as the pre-semester language course and Wirtschaft Deutsch in order boost up the number of credits and allow for a fairer mark. In my opinion you should not be too ambitious when choosing modules. I would also advise taking slightly easier courses in German, rather than harder ones in English. It can be very frustrating if you are trying to learn German, but have to read an entire book on management in English.’ – James G

Language

‘I feel I should stress the advantages and, in many ways, the importance of partaking in this course. The 3-week course consists of three sessions a day of language tuition, excursions and assistance, in order to fill in the appropriate forms. It is more than just a language course. It is more of an introductory course on life in Reutlingen. The teachers will help you register at the town hall, take you on a tour of the city, as well as to the Daimler Crysler factory and you will receive a letter of enrolment to the university, so you can purchase your cheap bus ticket. The course gives that welcome boost to your language capability and in doing so a new confidence in talking to and meeting new people. It also in itself allows you to meet 90% of the other foreign exchange students, as almost everyone takes full advantage of this course. It’s relatively inexpensive and also offers a very valuable and relatively easy 7.5 credits. The fact that the course is split up into 6 groups (ranging from absolute beginner to advanced) also means that there is no need to worry if your language still needs a bit of work. It is still possible to get as good a mark as someone in the top group. This is a great introduction to life at Reutlingen and I would whole-heartedly recommend this course.’ – James G

‘I cannot stress enough how valuable this course was to me in terms of making friends, improving my language skills and travel opportunities.’ – Ada A.

‘I strongly recommend you do the three week ‘Sprachkurs’ (language course) at the beginning of the winter semester. You will meet your friends for the year most likely and they take you on trips to help you find your way around Reutlingen and the surrounding area. And of course, it will help you feel more confident with your German.’ – Sara P.

Transport & travel

Travel in and around Reutlingen is extremely easy, not to mention cheap! 

‘One thing that I found invaluable, especially during my first semester was the ‘Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket’. This ticket costs €42 and allows up to five passengers to travel on the slow trains in the entire of Germany for 1 day at the weekend, e.g. up to five people could travel to Munich on a Saturday and come back on a Sunday for a shared cost. The south of Germany is also perfectly situated to explore a few neighbouring countries; Prague is a drive away, France is just through the Black Forest and Switzerland and Austria just the other side of Lake Constance, all of which are very much worth the trip.’  – James G.

‘You can purchase a ‘Naldo Ticket’, which is valid for one semester and allows you to travel on most trains and buses in and around Baden-Württemberg for free. In order to get this card, you will need a confirmation letter from the Hochschule stating that you are a student. You are usually given this during your first week.’ – Ada A.

‘I recommend you take every opportunity you can to go travelling. Get a Bahncard because it pays itself back very quickly. The transport system in Germany is fantastic, as generally in all the surrounding countries and you would be surprised how far you can get by train. You will need this website: www.db.de or just ask in the office at the train station because they are very helpful. Flights can be cheap, although this is questionable now with the rising fuel prices. I recommend picking up a timetable for the airport buses from the Rathaus in the town centre.

It is likely that you will travel with other international students you meet, so talk to people about your plans of where you would like to go etc. and you’ll be surprised how many others join in! It also makes it cheaper to travel if you are in a larger group, and you can book your own room in hostels together. It also makes it more fun if you go with friends, and potentially safer. Be careful when you go travelling, particularly of pick-pockets in big cities. You need private insurance, but also make sure you have a ‘European Health Insurance Card’ which you order from the NHS. I recommend packing lightly whenever you go away, although lockers in train stations can be very handy and are usually very safe.’ – Sarah P.

Shopping

‘Turning right out of one of the three student halls and walking a hundred meters or so down Pestalozzistraße you will find yourself at Penny Market. Covering all your needs from food to toothpaste, this mini supermarket is great.Very cheap, easy and close.  Turning left and walking past the campus you will find E-Plus. A little more expensive, with different variety of products but still reasonable. Opposite Penny’s, at the bottom of the road is a mini Edeka. The most expensive of the three, Edeka offers a more international shopping experience- but do not expect too much (i.e. Uncle Ben? Yes. Bisto Gravy? No).

Next to Penny are the banks Volksbank and Kreissparkasse, both of which offer free student accounts. I would recommend opening a German account but not before you arrive or in your first few weeks. There is no rush so take your time. Think carefully: which have connections to your home bank (Barclays is partnered with Deutsche Bank for example)? Which provides the best rates for money transfers? Which is more accessible? Withdrawing money from your home account ends up being expensive and often inconvenient.

With regards to clothes shopping…well it ain’t no London, nor Exeter. In fact I did most of my clothes shopping during home visits. Not to say it’s awful, but imagine Exeter without the new Shopping Centre- a little boring after a while. And to be honest Stuttgart pales to Exeter- and that’s really saying something!’ – Ada A.

‘Getraenkemarkt sells amazing drinks, but be aware of the Pfand system in Germany, whereby you pay a deposit for every bottle you buy, but get it refunded when you return the bottle for recycling to the shop. So don’t through any bottles away!’ Hania T.

‘With regards to clothes shopping Reutlingen is well catered for with shops like Zinser and Breuninger, but if you want to go on a real spree then Stuttgart would be worth the train ride!’ – James G.

Internships

ESB Business School holds two Business Fairs each year, the ‘International Business Fair’ during the summer semester and the ‘Companies Forum/Firmen Forum’ during the winter semester. The region is home many prominent companies including Hugo Boss, Daimler, Porsche, Bosch, Celesio, HewlettPackard and IBM.

‘I chose not to stay studying at the university for my second semester, but rather to do an internship. This really is an experience that will stand you in good stead for the future, not just in terms of having a good reference, but also in terms of gaining real experience of an office environment. My advice would be get a German to help with the application, as it not only has to be flawless, but really well written too. A résumé style CV is also required and, in Germany, a photo always has to be included in the application. Nearly all positions are for 6 months as well, so if a whole year in Germany is too long, then I wouldn’t recommend applying for this. However for me it was definitely worth the longer stay; I really feel that I learnt the most from my second semester as an intern and I would definitely recommend it.’ – James G

Last thoughts… 

‘Overall my year abroad was such a great opportunity to improve my German, to make international friends and go travelling. I definitely miss it being back in the UK and hope to go back and live in Germany when I graduate!! One piece of advice I should give, although it sounds obvious, is to make sure you speak as much German as possible, as it is easy to slip into a pattern of speaking English with the international students, so get involved with events held by the student societies and persevere!’ – Hania T.

‘My Erasmus year was the best year of my life and I strongly recommend you take the fantastic opportunity to do it! It will do wonders for your personal development – it really opens your eyes to the world, so to speak. I also looks great on your CV! I enjoyed every minute of it. I met so many fantastic diverse people and was like one big continuous party! My German improved very much, you just have to be patient and let yourself make mistakes – how else do you learn? Reutlingen is a lovely town and Germany is a great country with a real community spirit – get involved with local ‘Fests’ and cultural events. The Christmas markets are particularly spectacular! But don’t forget everything is shut on a Sunday…’ – Sara P

‘I cannot express how strongly I would recommend a year in Reutlingen and above all a year abroad. The experience has been ten fold what I had expected and I feel like I have learnt more in this year than in any year up until this point. The cultural and linguistic challenges are ones which, when conquered, are nothing but rewarding. I will never forget my time in Germany, the friends I made or the experience I had.’  – James G

 

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