Maud Tarral, a graduate management student from Grenoble EM, talks about her experience at University of Mannheim.
In the framework of my final year at Grenoble Ecole de Management, I had the opportunity to do an exchange program for two semesters at the Business School of the University of Mannheim in Germany.
The Business School benefits from an excellent academic reputation in Germany (triple accreditations, constant top position in the rankings by national business magazines), as well as in Europe. The prestige of the University and the setting were, thus, the first drivers of my choice: the core of the campus is indeed located in Germany’s largest Baroque place, which is also the second largest Baroque palace complex in Europe.
Compared to the teaching approach in most French Business Schools, the content of the courses is highly theoretical, even research-oriented to some extent. The vast majority of the lectures are held in English and each requires a major in-depth individual work (reading of academic papers published in high-ranking management journals, lots of team presentations on case studies and/or research papers…). Some courses are completed with sessions of so-called “Exercise Class” in smaller groups of students. Exchange students can choose their classes among a large panel split in 6 major areas (Accounting/Taxation, Banking/Finance, Information Systems, Management, Marketing, Operations Management) and are mixed with national students, which is very insightful regarding the “German working method”. Most of the time exams only last 60 minutes and one can get a maximum of 60 points: it is a real time trial! Moreover the Studium Generale provides the possibility for any student enrolled at the University to choose one extra course for free per semester (language courses, communication courses, computer science courses…); I, for instance, started to learn Spanish in Mannheim! A huge Career Fair over three days is organized once a semester where leading national and international firms are present. The Institute for Sport of the University also offers a large catalog of sport courses for free.
During the lecture periods the legendary “Schneckenof-Parties” take place every Thursday in one of the universities yards, the so-called Schneckenhof. Each week, every party is organized by a different school of the University and has its own motto. The student association for incoming exchange students “VISUM” is doing a great job in welcoming and integrating international students (Buddy program; International Stammtisch; City trips in Munich, Hamburg, Berlin, Vienna; International parties…).
The best way to get to know German people is to live in a “Wohngemeinschaft” (WG: flat-sharing), even if finding a WG in Mannheim is not that easy: one will have to take part to some sort of “personality interviews” with the potential roommates and the demand is quite high. Of course the website wg-gesucht.de is the most practical way to find some offers, but it could also be really helpful to get in touch with former GEM exchange students for some tips.
Although Mannheim does not belong to the big German metropolises, the city has a lot to offer: leading companies (SAP, BASF, Reckitt Benckiser, Bilfinger, Siemens, ABB, Roche Diagnostics, John Deere…); a vibrant cultural life (National Theater, Kunsthalle, Reiss-Engelhorn-Museums…), diverse restaurants and bars at affordable prices… Mannheim is located at the confluence of the Rhine and the Neckar, in the northwestern corner of Baden-Württemberg, which also provides numerous possibilities for nice bike rides. Other smaller cities in Mannheim’s surrounding areas are worth visiting like Heidelberg and Schwetzingen for their palace, Speyer and Bad-Dürkeim for their historical center… What is more, the Baden-Würtemberg region offers the “VRN-Semesterticket” to each exchange student staying for two semesters, which allows traveling for free within the region during one semester. From France one can easily go to Mannheim by taking the Paris-Frankfurt or the Marseille-Frankfurt TGV lines.
To summarize: an exchange at the University of Mannheim admittedly requires a certain amount of work, but is also really rewarding and gratifying!