My first semester in Mannheim is coming to an end. Because of finals, it didn’t really hit me that some of us are at the end of our exchange program. I want to point out a couple of observations that I came across while studying abroad in hopes that it will help future students on their journey in Mannheim.
For starters, I don’t have Spotify Premium; I just have the regular free Spotify account. I did not know that Spotify is very sensitive to location. On the 14th day I was using Spotify while in Germany, the app told me that I had only a limited number of days left to use the app in another country. Apparently, there is a time span for abroad use of free Spotify accounts. I was shocked, because I had no idea about this limitation. However, one of my friends has Spotify Premium and she is able to use Spotify here in Germany.
Before coming to Germany, I took a semester course on German, so I some very limited knowledge. When I went to a grocery store I was percent sure that wasser is the German word for water. There were a couple of different choices, so I chose one that said “classic.” The moment I opened the water bottle, it sounded like I opened a bottle of soda; It had the gas noise. I already bought it, but I re-checked the label. It looked like water, so I gave it a little taste. I didn’t like it. I asked, and Germans like carbonated water (sparkling water). I personally didn’t like it, so I bought a lot of different brands until I found one that wasn’t carbonated. It was an interesting experience, but I did find non-carbonated water. The brand name is Elitess and it has a pink plastic wrapper. That’s the bottled water I enjoy here.
A typical Sunday back in the US for me is going grocery shopping, clothes shopping, running errands, going to maybe Walmart or Target, going to the mall or maybe the movies, et cetera. Basically, as a family, we spend our time together doing things that take us outside of the house. My first weekend in Mannheim I realized that on Sundays almost everything is closed. A few restaurants were open, but for the most part everything is closed on Sundays. As a result, the city itself can seem somewhat deserted. It was a complete 180 degree change, and I was glad that I arrived on a Thursday and not a Sunday. So, if you are arriving on a Sunday be prepared. On the bright side, buses and trams do work on Sundays.
One of the things we need to do as international students in Germany is register into the city. To register into the city, we go to a building in a place called K7. I recommend going as early as possible because there will be a lot of international students, and everyone has to register. Moreover, keep in mind the hours; three out of the five days that it’s open, the office closes at noon. The first time I went to register it was about 1 p.m. and I didn’t understand why the doors wouldn’t open, until I saw the hours. So keep that in mind. Also, it’s best to arrive early, because the ladies at the front desk give out numbers; It’s like being at the DMV. So you could arrive during business hours, but the ladies at the front desk can tell you that there are no more numbers left to give out for the day, and tell you to come back tomorrow.
Deutsche Bank is the German bank I opened an account with. I went in person, and the employees there helped international students (in groups) set up a bank account step by step. The tellers at that bank do speak English well so that’s a plus. However, setting up a bank account does take about 2 to 3 weeks. The reason is because the bank sends everything separately. I received four or five different envelopes; one envelope had the pin, another one had the card, et cetera. I advise to plan accordingly for how much money to carry with you or how to get emergency money.
I truly enjoyed the amazing time I had in Mannheim. I met wonderful people from different nationalities, and I cannot wait to see what Spring semester has in store for me – especially now that I have familiarized myself with the city and the university.
Sayra Flores is a junior studying business management with an emphasis in human resources. She is studying abroad at University of Mannheim, Germany.