The process from applying to actually studying abroad requires a hefty amount of paperwork and arrangements. This is the timeline of the practicalities before and in the beginning of my stay in Mannheim.
January – the application period.
March – the results of the selection and accepting the place. After receiving the news, I had approximately one week time to inform Aalto University and two weeks to inform the University of Mannheim about my decision to accept the place. Later this month, I got an e-mail from the University of Mannheim with the information about the semester dates and the date of the Summer Academy, an optional language and culture course. I was told that I would receive more information only in May.
April – scholarships. In April, I got a scholarship letter from Aalto. It is an official certificate of being selected to the exchange program and being entitled to a scholarship. I also applied for the scholarship provided by KY. An orientation session was organised to all future exchange students.
May – finally more information from UniMa. I got my credentials to the university portal (myUniMA) late in May, only a week before the beginning of June. Access to the portal is essential, because without it, nothing can be done. I also got my Welcome Letter, Letter of Admission and a Notice of Semester Fee (80,90€).
June – everything happens. In the beginning of June, I enrolled to the Summer Academy and paid the corresponding lovely fee of 605€. Since I now knew the day I had to be in Mannheim, I also bought the tickets to there (plane 170€, train 25€). While I was at it, I made a travelling notification to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland (matkustusilmoitus.fi).
It became clear that this late, I had no hope of getting a dorm room via the university. I started sending replies to “room for rent” ads. The portal for students of UniMa (https://zimmer.uni-mannheim.de ) was the easiest option, but I also used Studenten-wg.de to search for accommodation. Scanning through and replying to the new ads first thing in the morning was the best strategy, as the market was lively and the rooms were reserved quickly. I think my status as an international student staying in Mannheim for barely half a year definitely worked against me. I got a reply to only about a half of my messages and had a Skype-meeting with two people, the other being my future flatmate.
In June, I took the Erasmus language test in the language of the studies, English. This test has to be taken before and after the exchange, unless your skill level is C2, in which case the second part can be forgotten. Less tests, yay!
July – the last minute arrangements. Since I would participate in the Summer Academy, I had to take another language test, but in German this time. I ordered the European health insurance card, made arrangements with my bank to customize the travelling insurance and made sure that I could use my phone, including the internet, normally in Germany.
Other things to do before leaving is to fill and sign the Erasmus+ Learning Agreement, which includes selecting the courses for the semester, to check that your HOPS is up to date and that your passport is still valid.
August – enrollments. When I arrived, I had to enroll to the International Summer Academy, to the University and register myself at the Residents‘ Registration Office. German skills are valuable at the Registration Office, because the English skills of the personnel might not be good. We got English translations to help fill the German forms, though.