Odile-Charlotte Massard, a graduate management student from Grenoble EM, talks about her experience at European Business School.
For my last year of studies, I decided to go on exchange at European Business School (EBS) in Oestrich-Winkel, Germany. This little city might not ring a bell for you. It is indeed a small village in the wine yards and along the Rhein river, close to Wiesbaden and Frankfurt !
Do not get afraid being in a village, there is actually a very good standard of living and it will give you a great insight of the German way of living! However, before going there, I would recommend to get ready to live in a small village, because for those who are used to very big cities, it can be a shock. Otherwise the basic advice I could give is simply to look into the programs they offer in order to make sure that it is suitable for you. EBS has its strength in finance; however the other subjects are still very good (my major was Marketing). I actually decided to go there because of the good-ranking and network this university has. Besides, the programs and modules they offered were in line with my career path and I was not disappointed by that. I also choose it in order to practice my German, however, even though the German courses provided were great, the contact with the locals is more difficult and you tend to stick more with the exchange student community, which is still fun! I also suggest you to take the introductory courses of German provided at the beginning of the semester to get to know all the activities organized by the school.
Concerning housing, it is quite tough as it is a small village, so I advise you to start searching early on the internet. You will find also a great help from Julia Bayer, the person responsible for housing, who will help you to find your new home. There will be a flat hunting, organized by her, on the internet, but you have to be really fast! Personally, I advise you to stay in Oestrich-Winkel as most of the students are there, but Hattenheim is very close to the school as well. Most of the apartments are shared, I was in the EBS-dorms and we were 10! Do not get afraid, it is actually a great experience to meet and live with different nationalities.
Regarding transportation, the school organizes pick up service from the airport or train station directly to your house. During the semester, with your student ID, all of the public transportation (bus, train and tramway) within the region is free. However I still advise you to get a bike in order to be freer to go to school, visit your friends or do your grocery shopping in the village (previous exchange students re-sell their own).
I would say it is quiet tough to get a part-time job as most of them will require you to speak German. However friends of mine found some in foreign firms which are located in Wiesbaden (20 minutes from the village), but there are only a few positions available and not many students are actually doing it. You might get some help with the job department of the school.
I know the German culture very well, so I have not gotten any shock. The Germans in general are quite nice and have a good level of English, so you cannot get lost. However, if you want to get close to them, they can be a bit cold at the beginning, but become even friendlier afterwards! There are a lot of festivals organized as Germans love to party (during the grape-harvest in September, Bier festival in October, Christmas market in December, Carnival in February…). The typical dishes are quiet heavy, all made of different type of sausage and meat with cabbage and potatoes… Delicious! Participating in all of them and trying all of the dishes takes already a long time. In the region there are a lot of sight-seeing opportunities to do: Rüdesheim, Mainz, Wiesbaden, Frankfurt, the Romantic Rhein. As it is in the center of Germany and Europe (close to the Frankfurt-Hub), you can easily go to visit other cities in Germany for the week. Many exchange students also regularly organize some trips around Europe for few days during and after the exchange, which will give you a great overview of the European culture. There’s also a lot of outdoor activities to do (bike, walk, jogging, picknick along the Rhein River…) However, I would never have imagined that I would get that close to the Asian corner. I had great fun and learned a lot about their culture and way of thinking. Actually I became more Asian than I expected, which brought me far away from my first goal (mastering German)… The Exchange always is full of surprises and you do not need to go that far to get into a multicultural environment.