Marvin is a student from Kettering University, Michigan, USA. He studied in the KEEP programme at Esslingen University in summer semester 2022 and did an internship in Sindelfingen after the study abroad semester.
My stay abroad in 5 words
Eye-opening, exciting, welcoming, introspective
Deciding for Esslingen
Oh, that is a long story! I am from Michigan but my family is from Mexico. One day my Dad got the opportunity to work in Mexico, so we moved there for a year. That was not a voluntary thing to do, but I realized how incredible it is to stay abroad and how much you can learn from it. I wanted to do it again and decided to study abroad in Germany. My university gave me three options for Germany. Out of them, I chose Esslingen University because it is a good University with interesting courses and it is a small enough city where you can feel comfortable, but a big enough city to always have something to do.
Studying in Germany
I would say the biggest difference is that in Germany there is more requirement on you to know what to study. In the USA you have a lot of homework and other tasks during the semester that give you a roadmap of what the final exam could be like. In Germany you still have some guidance but there is less homework and studying is a lot more about coming to the lectures and learning from them. The most enjoyable thing was one of the professors who taught the German history class. I was never very interested in history but he made the class very interesting and fun and so that class really changed my point of view.
My biggest worries before coming to Germany and what I was looking forward to
I was worried about fitting in. When I lived in Mexico I made a lot of friends and it was easy to identify as Mexican because I know the culture and speak Spanish. Before coming to Germany, I knew I don’t speak German and I don’t know anything about the culture. I remember that in my first week here, I had a rather touristy feeling and didn’t understand many things. But then that changed and I understood more and more of the culture , e.g. that you do not talk loud in the bus. A good thing is that Germany is very diverse, so it felt easier for me to fit in. I was looking forward to meeting a lot of German people and making friends. That somehow came true, I spend a lot of time with friends I made in the group of international students but I didn’t meet people from Esslingen too much. Looking back I would still do it the same (unfortunately) but I think I could have done more like inviting people to dinner or for a beer. I am now on a A1 level in German language, but don’t test me on it ;-).
Living in Germany and what I do and did in my free time
Coming to Germany was the first time I moved to another country alone. I first had to learn to go shopping, to cook and things like that. I lived in the dormitory in Geschwister-Scholl-Straße. They had parties every Wednesday where you could meet people and have fun even if the party itself was not so great, I liked that! I also like the German food, especially because in almost every single dish is meat. I really like “Currywurst” which is a simple street food but has a lot of flavors. In my free time I enjoy going to a “Biergarten” and having a beer or going on a walk along the woods. I spend a lot of time with my friends being a tourist and visiting places like the Black Forest, Amsterdam, Brussels, Hamburg, Zermatt, Interlaken, Milan and Salzburg. Even if Switzerland is impressive with all the mountains, when you come to Salzburg and see how beautiful it is with its pastel colors, rolling hills and all the music, it’s amazing! The most beautiful experience I had was in Pentecost break, where I went to Switzerland to a camp called “L’abri”. It is a place where you can meet people and get to talk to them about personal questions concerning religion, philososphy,… It was a great atmosphere!
What I also want to say (to future incoming students at Esslingen University)…
Go out and meet as many people as you can, because the best memories are those you make with the people you care about. This can be a completely new and difficult experience at times, but that means you’re doing it right! Always challenge yourself to try new things, get outside of your comfort zone, and enjoy the experience!