Get the most out of Internationales Zentrum

The International Office – also known as the Internationales Zentrum (IZ) after the building on Campus Vaihingen where they reside – coordinates all programs, counseling, and events for incoming students and researchers from abroad.

The first day at University is something we will all remember for all the right reasons. Be it the anxiety of facing fresh faces from across the world or the excitement of blending into the culture of a foreign land, we will cherish the moments in years to come. Right from the meticulously organized reception to swift sliding through the formalities, the International Office has all that covered. Stationed in one of the quaintest buildings on the Campus Vaihingen, the IZ could arguably be referred to as ‘the messiah’ of all international students at Universität Stuttgart. Operating from the late 60’s, it has been functioning as the gateway of Universität Stuttgart.

With around 3500 International students currently enrolled at the university, IZ plays a pivotal role in supporting the fraternity and has way more to offer than just the initial nurture. Here is a brief insight into the functions and core activities at the IZ so that you make the most out of it during your stay here.

Blend in the buddy way

No matter how much you have traveled, there is no period more hectic than the ‘relocating days’ in a new city. The buddies of the program are as welcoming as the program itself and reach the airport or the train station to extend a hug and have you on board without any hassles. These trained buddies are well aware of all the places around the city and will help you get done with all the formalities which are quite a few. A student who has secured an admission and has the travel plans finalized, may apply for the service and be a clever beneficiary. Information stands that are placed across the campus with the friendly buddies will help you with your concerns.

It is usual for a student to be housed in one of the dormitories operated by the Studierendenwerk. For an international student, the society changes and so do the rules. There are a bunch of do’s and don’ts that have to be kept in mind when staying with an international sphere to make sure we are neither short nor crossing the line. In order to make sure an international student is well aware of these rulebooks, the International Office in co-operation with the Studierendenwerk offers a visit to the dorms in small groups with the buddies where all the rules will be explained for living in harmony.

The program does not end there! To keep the fun-loving folks engaged, who are already in the campus and would like to get around the city, in the offering are regular events planned like hiking, pub crawl, visits to the local museums. If socializing and meeting new people is your thing, these events are a godsend. Keep yourself updated on the events by either subscribing to the newsletter or by following on the official Instagram account.

If you would like to be a buddy yourself, that is possible too! Visit the IZ and have yourself registered as a buddy. You should have completed a minimum of three semesters in the university and also must be fluent in German to be one. If you have some free time in the beginning of a semester and would like to help the newcomers, get going and be a buddy.

Counselling, Mentoring and more

Irrespective of how well we plan our life, shit does happen. Adding to the woes, the unfamiliarity of the local conditions can elevate the problem and complicate the situation. Facing any such situations?  IZ is where you have to rush for guidance. Knock the door with residence permit issues, financial problems, illness, sleeplessness and any problems that fall into the social compass. Shy to share your problems? A solution for that too, as the officials assure you a hundred percent confidentiality of your problems. As a staff member at IZ mentioned, “The earlier the students reach out to us with the problem, the better we can serve”. So, stall the hesitation and get to them before the situation turns any worse.

Quite often we fall prey to stress not just due to the overloaded syllabus, but due to lack of the right approach to tackle the task at hand. For an international student, when the whole system changes, there is a need for slight adjustment to the local standards. The International Office has an Intercultural Mentoring Program on the offering at the beginning of your course, whereby a mentor guides and offers academic support to help you maneuver the uphill task and get into the right lane. During the free time events which are offered you can also get to know knew people. However, the program is restricted to the international degree students as they are the most likely ones to face such a situation. The seats are limited and a registration in advance is needed. You think you have a mentor in you? The International Office is continuously on the lookout for mentors to add to the team. Register on the website carrying an eligibility of fluent German and a completion of a minimum of three semesters at the university.

And…that is not all

With a prime goal of integration, the International Office wants to make sure the international students meet students from across the globe and enrich their experience during their time here at the university. A culturally diverse environment as such gives every student an opportunity to learn a lot more than just academics. To make it possible for students with a common interest to meet each other, the International Office, under the banner of “Meraki”, conducts events like music, dance, art, photography, poetry and so on. Such events form an excellent platform for students to meet like talented people and to lend a whole new dimension to an art form and mend the perspective into that of a global plot.

Students may also form groups and the International Office helps them with the formal procedure of registering a student association. The backing does not end there. If these associations come up with some ideas for events, the International Office partially finances these events and also provides the IZ foyer, which actually makes a great dais for such events.

So, here’s hoping that the article gave you a few insights about the activities and events of the International Office at the Internationales Zentrum. And also hoping that you do “Get the most out of IZ”.

Saleem Javed

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