Why Mannheim?

It has been almost five weeks since I arrived here in Mannheim. It is strange to think that I might be at home somewhere else right now – Mannheim was not my first choice from the beginning.

The process of deciding where to study for a semester started by choosing the language of the destination. I wanted to get to practice and develop my newly founded German skills, so the area needed to be German speaking. Switzerland was a serious candidate for a long time, but in the end, I decided to go with a more affordable option. The exact location was not of importance to me.

Aalto BIZ has a variety of partnering universities in Germany, but not that many with an economics department. Several schools of management were eliminated right away. The list of candidates was further reduced by conflicting schedules. Most of the universities in Germany have winter and summer semesters in contrast to our fall and spring semesters. Considering my study plan before and after the exchange, it was practical to pick a destination with a similar schedule.

In the end, I chose between Köln (Cologne) and Mannheim. Köln would have been a bigger and maybe a more interesting city, but the top rating of the University of Mannheim as well as the course selection made me choose Mannheim. At this point, I did not know that the courses I was particularly interested in are only taught once a year, of course not during my stay in here.

Although the university courses have not started yet, I am already glad that I chose Mannheim. If I could do something differently, I would check the scheduling of the courses more carefully before deciding which semester to spend abroad. Even better, I would come here already as a bachelor, because the variety of interesting economics courses is far more impressive than the supply of masters courses.

Germany, prove me wrong


The airplane to Germany takes off early tomorrow morning. Suddenly, my five months abroad have become very real. In the eve of the exchange, what are my expectations about and prejudice towards Mannheim, the University of Mannheim and German people at this point? Here are five (mis)conceptions to be proven wrong.

  1. They do not like to speak English, or at least they prefer the attempts of speaking their language. They are not as bad as the French, though, I hear. However, in a university city, I expect English to be used widely.
  2. Mannheim is not marketed as a beautiful place. Apparently, it is a boxy design with architecture forgotten from the plans.
  3. They have dubbed everything and I will be having trouble finding a cinema with any English in it. On the other hand, I have no other choice than to learn the language.
  4. My fellow students take their studies seriously and spend time with their books (or laptops).
  5. They have only a short time to write their exams which will mean trouble for me, being used to four hours of time.

How badly I am mislead – we will see soon enough.