Mein Jahr in Mannheim war mehr als ein Studium, es war eine Lebenserfahrung.
Rebeccah Dawson (Carrboro)
My name is Richard Barnett, and I am one of the Masters students enrolled in the Intercultural German Studies offered between the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Canada and the Universität Mannheim in Mannheim, Germany. Resultantly, I am also one of the recipients for the Ekkehard Stipendium for the year 2015 and have been receiving the funds throughout the year in order to help me with the many costs and finances of being a university student, especially being an international student, which as I am sure you are already aware, can be an expensive undertaking to pursue. The funds were very important to me and have helped (and continue to help me) throughout the school year, because they have allowed me to become more financially stable and more financially independent. As a result of receiving the funds, I did not have to ask the Canadian government to offer me such large of student loans as I had initially anticipated. This is a big deal for North American university students, because as I am sure you are already very aware, tuition costs in Canada are very high, especially in comparison to European tuition costs. As a result, many students are forced to work several jobs while simultaneously studying and regularly attending classes. The work and stress-load for North American university students is very often financially and emotionally devastating, and we are always very grateful when the university and the government can assist us with our crippling debts and tuition costs. Although we as international students in the Intercultural German Studies program of the Universität Mannheim are officially enrolled students of the university, we are still obligated to pay the regular Canadian tuition fees each semester that we spend here in Germany. This gets expensive, and the Ekkehard Stipendium was a major help in getting these finances paid on time.
The Stipendium was also very helpful and paying my rent and housing bills on time. Housing in Mannheim is quite affordable, but still quite a bit pricier than housing back in Waterloo. The scholarship I received was important to me, so that I could pay my rent, as well as the cost for the AOK health insurance. The health insurance is somewhat expensive to pay, and I thought I would not ever need it, but I am very happy and grateful to have such a wonderful program in place for me as an international student, because I did have an accident this year and had to go to hospital. The doctors, nurses, and workers were very nice, and it all went very smoothly and very well, as I only had to show them my card and it was all they needed to see.
Back in Canada, we do not pay nearly as much for health insurance, but the quality of care is also much lower, so I was very impressed with the AOK health insurance policies and my overall experience. I did not expect it to be so good, because I was only ever used to the quality of health care which we receive back home.
Although tuition and rent were the two main factors which the Ekkehard Stipendium has been helping me with throughout my exchange year here in Mannheim, there were also other important costs which it assisted with, the two mainly being food and transportation. It was nice to have the extra money to buy food and drinks, because then I could use my own money to do a bit of travelling around Germany, which was also really important for me, and one of the main reasons that I decided to do the Masters exchange program with the Universität Mannheim. Although courses have been a lot of work and I have not had too much time to travel, I did get to visit some areas of Germany, Holland, and France that most North American students do not ever get the opportunity to visit. It was a very important experience for developing my knowledge of European culture, which in all honesty I am not very familiar with. In essence, the scholarship has been totally enhancing the quality and pleasure of my experiences in Germany and Europe, as it has helped me experience and appreciate the most of my short time here.
I hope this has been enough information to give you a sense of how your generous offer has been helping me a great deal with many aspects of my life here in Germany. Of course, there are other factors to consider, such as transportation costs (the semester ticket in Mannheim is quite expensive, although useful because it allows use to travel to many nearby cities for free), and the cost of textbooks.
Once again, I would like to take the time to say how much I appreciate your generosity, and I hope that you continue to support international students who make the decision to study and experience life in Baden-Württemberg.
With sincere regards and many thanks,
Intercultural German Studies student of the University of Waterloo and the Universität Mannheim