Thursday, March 3, 2016

Anastasia in Germany!

When departing for my semester abroad, I thought six months was a long time…. Today I am two months into my adventure and it has gone by in a blink of an eye.  I truly feel sad when I think about the fact that I will have to leave soon.  Before departure, I was nothing but excited. This was it! The thing I strived to do since 10th grade. And with excitement came a lot of research and preparation. I cannot say there has been a lot that has surprised me, which is the absolute miracle of living in the 21st century I guess.  But my preparation in no way meant that everything was smooth sailing or that my life in Mannheim is somehow boring. I think any student abroad is bound to run into some sort of problems, especially at the start.  Everything is literally foreign, and leaning to navigate a new country is a feat.  But I remind myself that countless students have survived before me and so can I!

Marktplatz in Mannheim

View from my window during sunrish

Everyday Life in Manhheim
If you plan to attend Mannheim, you will hear “it is not the prettiest of cities” A LOT!
Thus, I anticipated it. And while Mannheim is not as picturesque as the neighboring town of Heidelberg, for example, I found it to be a suitable place to live and study.  It is a very college student friendly atmosphere, and therefore people are willing to help and there are a lot of people to meet.  Surprisingly, I adjusted fairly quickly and instead of driving 40 minutes to school, my norm became walking 20 minutes to class.  Instead of driving for groceries, I now walk down the street with a backpack full of them. I live in the city center so everything is within walking distance, although for those who live further there is plenty of public transportation to help you get around.  When it comes to school, University of Mannheim is primarily a business school. By that I mean, 98% of people I meet are in the business school. I am however in the Humanities and Social Sciences, both departments are very small. I heard that students skip class a lot to travel and professors do not take attendance.  Well, that is mostly true of business lectures with hundreds of people. All of my classes are small seminars, where the attendance policies are stricter than those at UNCG.  So be careful when making travel plans; confirm your class policies.  A big difference between Mannheim and UNCG, is that the university plans a TON of parties and social events (especially for exchange students).  Currently, no joke, there is a party happening every single night of the week.  It is hard to be lonely or bored.

I god to school in a castle!!!

Every-weekend life in Europe
I cannot recommend Germany enough as a study abroad destination. It is such a fascinating and diverse country. In addition, it is centrally located.  It is ideal to travel to any place in Europe. Because classes take place once a week, not only do I not have Friday classes, but I also don’t have Thursday classes.  This means four day weekends every weekend.  It is the ideal time to travel, which is what a lot of students are doing. You can always find a travel buddy should you want one.  Today I will be departing on my fourth weekend trip in a row. And even as an avid adventurer, I have to admit it is exhausting. Thus far my big trips include Prague, Brussels, and Berlin.  And when I travel I have the need to see everything. I don’t take it easy. So getting back I am always exhausted, but instead of resting I have a pile of reading, work, and chores to do.  So I would definitely recommend that you find your own, manageable pace when it comes to traveling, otherwise you will drive yourself insane.
At Brandenburg Gate

When traveling my best advice is to see everything J You will regret it later if you were near a museum or monument and you didn’t see it. Eat all the food, you can be skinny when you’re dead. Be safe, be smart; things can happen to anyone, but take precautions. Climb all the stairs, the best views are at the top. Take pictures, but also see it with your eyes.  Enjoy the once in a lifetime experience.

Climb the stairs!  The best views are always at the top (Speyer, Germany)

Anastasia Shymanovich
University of Mannheim
Mannheim, Germany