Mein Jahr in Mannheim war mehr als ein Studium, es war eine Lebenserfahrung.
Rebeccah Dawson (Carrboro)
I will try in my report to tell to the readers of it how I chose the country to study, how difficult was the process of preparing the documents, how I was accepted by Mannheim University and mainly describe my life after leaving my home country.
I am law student. To study law and become a lawyer is my aim since I remember myself. I am from Republic of Azerbaijan, where I graduated from faculty of law of National Aviation Academy. After I decided to continue my education and take master degree abroad and the process of choosing the country to study started.
As everyone knows, the most popular countries to study law are England and the USA, however we also know that these countries are also very expensive to live and study. I wanted to study in Europe and I chose the place taking into account the following criterions: the safety of the country, not expensive and high quality education, the advantages that graduates of that state have in Azerbaijan and it should be not too far from my country. Affirming all these criterions was Germany.
After I began to look for the universities suitable for me and the University of Mannheim was the most suitable one, because of its rank, faculty it offers and place (my family did not want me to study in a big city, as it is less safe). I decided to apply for the master of Comparative Business Law program.
Without any doubts that the stage of document preparation and the first weeks alone in Mannheim are the most difficult parts of my experience as psychological as well as physical. The problem with documents was that as Germany and Azerbaijan are very different in the documentation and education meaning it is very time spending and stressful process to get from the national universities the appropriate documents. I have spent more than 4 months to prepare all of them. For me it was even double stress, because it was first time going abroad and it was not just traveling as most people do before deciding to stay somewhere but starting to leave alone after 22 years of living with the family. Moreover living alone is something not inherent to my culture.
Considering it my parents and my brother accompanied me with the aim to find an apartment and settle me there and with travel purposes. Getting the visa was very tough, my family got it earlier than me and the consulate was refusing to explain the reason of tardiness of my visa. As I was already late to welcome event and did not want to be late also for the starting of the classes I wrote to Migration Office in Germany email explaining my situation, they replied to me very quickly and informed that they already confirmed my visa, so my problem was with consulate in Baku. However as soon as I sent them the email I got from Migration Office they called and gave me an appointment to bring my passport. In this stage I would like to recommend to all the students having this kind of problem and feeling that the local consulate just shows the negligence to write to the head office and ask for help and support.
We arrived on September 1, on the last day of enrollment and spent all day doing it. Finding proper place to live in Mannheim was other super troublesome part. The visa of my family was ending and we still did not find anything, not knowing the language was adding its own part of hardship too.
To be short we found it by applying to Turkish speaking realtor office. I was settled by my family and they left. My first week alone was awful; I did not have friends, had difficulties with the classes and was wondering if I made a right choice. Although, being persistent and keeping my aim above everything I relied on my patience and promised myself that days with these kind of difficulties would pass and I would feel here as in my home country. I was not wrong thinking like that.
In few weeks my way of living, thinking, understanding everything, speaking adopted to the new place. I became more concentrated on my subjects, made friends and achieving that the role of my group mates, teachers and university personnel was very high. The city and people living here are very friendly, they were ready to help you with any questions, whether you ask the way of going somewhere or something special. The city is full of students from different countries, which makes it very comfortable to live in. But my group was the most helpful aspect in my adaptation. As we all came from various places it is really international group and big part of it is also alone in Germany, it is the main factor why everyone try to help each other, try to support and give love and care when one is in a trouble or ill.
The next quite positive thing happened to me here was the notice about being awarded the scholarship. I want to emphasize that I had not applied for it, I got the news about it as a big surprise. Germany is not the most expensive country, however it is not the most cheap one as well. This scholarship gave me the chance to be able to live without parents’ help for one semester and I am very grateful to all the people chose me. Moreover, it acted even if not wholly but partly as evaluation and appreciation of my hard work and efforts in four years’ bachelor studies. It made me more motivated and ready to face hardships in the studying process and tackle with them professionally.
We had two trips to the most important institutions of EU. The first trip was organized to European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, the second to the European Parliament. I personally loved the latter more, there were less students, it was better organized and more teaching than the first one.
After finishing first semester, I can summarize that classes in general were interesting, interactive and full of new useful information; however, some subjects had too big amount of it and it was not very practic not to narrow the very essential parts of topics and gave us a task to be ready to meet everything in exam; does not matter how hard you study when there are more than enough you are not able to absorb it having time limits.
Exam period made us to get into fast rotating wheel; it had “wild rhythm”. Having seven exams in a just two weeks was something new for me and super stressful. In the experience of most of us, it was the first time when we would have four exams in one day. Our coordinator explained that it is common practice in Germany to have all compulsory subjects together in one day. I think this is for me the main and the biggest disadvantage of exams. It restricts the chance of the students to be totally ready for each of the subjects, you had to make a choice between subjects and to put them in a rank depending of your time and ability to prepare for it; and in the end of the day limits your knowledge, acting as obstacle toward your memory.
To conclude my experience report on living and studying in Germany I would like to say that wherever you will choose to study and whatever you will choose do not be afraid of difficulties, concentrate just on the end result you will get after all these challenging times end. Be patient do not give up under any conditions. No doubts that you will miss your family, your home, your country and culture, but do not forget that life is more colorful when you know various cultures, speak different languages, meet new people. Now, if I was before choice once more I would choose the same!