Germany, Reutlingen – Ada Anteyi – 2007-2008

The Pre-Semester Course

The three week course consists of three sessions a day of language tuition, excursions and assistance, in order to fill in the appropriate forms. It only costs €200 and also offers a very valuable and relatively easy 7.5 credits. It is more than just a language course and I can not stress enough how valuable this course was to me in terms of making friends, improving my language skills and travel opportunities.

Lectures and Teaching

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.

Accommodation

To avoid too much accommodation stress, I recommend applying early. Also to apply for student accommodation. It is far too much hassle and inconvenience to look for accommodation elsewhere. German efficiency/bureaucracy will just annoy you. The GWG is used to dealing with international students and they do a great job of allocating places. The Theodor-Litthaus and Adolf-Reichwein-Haus are the nicest and also the newest, but Wurm-Haus isn’t too bad. Rent is around €200 per month for a single room (slightly less for a double) and €30 for the key deposit, payable upon arrival. However, rental payment is to the GWG directly and they are very flexible concerning payment. All 3 mentioned student accommodations 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. Each building has 7 floors and each floor has 18 rooms, 4 showers, 1 reasonably sized kitchen and a balcony. The communal areas are cleaned twice a week. Each floor has a floorspeaker who is responsible for the smooth running of the floor. I lived on the 7th floor of Adolf and I loved it. Great atmosphere, great mixture of people, great sunsets. And you’ll find that because there are both international and permanent students mixed together, as well as many people from the business schools, you will never feel isolated. 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.

The Social Side

As I have already mentioned, 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 and are rarely seen outside their rooms during the examination period. This is especially true for SIB students (ESB will party even when there are deadlines looming!). However, you will never be short of exchange student friends. They are usually in the same situation as you and it’s a great way to make friends from all over the world.

Travel

It is very easy to get around Reutlingen and the Bundesland Baden-Württemberg. For €47 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. The ticket covers the Number 4 and 11 bus, which take you directly from Reutlingen Stadtmitte to Pestalozzistraβe (where the university and student accommodations are located), and the x3 Express bus, which goes from Stuttgart Airport to Reutlingen Stadtmitte. Upon arriving, you usually have two ways of getting to Reutlingen if you have flown. You can either take a €50 taxi or pay roughly €7 for the bus, and this covers you from the airport to Pestalozzistraβe. But be warned, the x3 takes around 50 minutes, so if you are on a Herr Zorn (Hausmeister) deadline it might be worth taking a taxi as it takes around 20-30minutes.

If you want to travel outside the Naldo Ticket zone there are 3 ways to do that. Either by car and share the petrol, using the Schöneswochenende Ticket or using a Bahncard. A lot of the time a car is the best option and that’s how I travelled most of the time. However the other two are equally good. Travel outside Germany is equally viable. It is a lot cheaper to book flights in euros (exchange rate) and also a lot more convenient.

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 Markt. Covering all your needs from food to toothpaste, this mini supermarket is great. 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? (Volksbank and Kreissparkasse are nationwide). Do not think you will not need one, or rely on just withdrawing money from your home account. This 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!

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