Aside from your major, what university life really teaches you

Aside from your major, what university life really teaches you

For many, going to a university is their first step into adulthood. And while we learn the fine details of quantum physics, Da Vinci’s art and trickle-down theory in the classrooms, university life teaches us more than the courses we register for; lessons of friendship, compromise and hardwork. Below, we take a look at what university life really teaches us.

Prioritising 

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Three assignments, one paper and five hangout plans with friends; university life is all about making and honouring commitments, and when you are pressed for time  – which is usually the case – you have to make choices and prioritize according to your needs and wishes. It might be tough at the beginning but after the first semester, you will master the art of managing your time efficiently and doing what matters the most first.      

Living with others

Growing up in your hometown, studying with the people you know and having the same circle of friends since childhood are the comforts you leave behind when you move to a university for higher education. And as overwhelming as it may seem in the first few months, you soon learn to live with new people – new classmates, new locals and new roommates; you learn to invite new people into your life and live with them.

Grocery shopping

At home, the only thing you had to worry about was getting to the dinner table when the food was ready. You didn’t know (or care) how and when the vegetables, bread and meat arrived in your kitchen. And even if you had a little idea of the concept of grocery shopping, you didn’t know the extent of it; butter or margarine, paper towel or napkins, liquid soap or bar? Well, all of that changes when you start your university life; from knowing the price of 1kg potatoes to the right amount of toilet papers, you learn it all.   

Paying bills

The economic system we live in, everything comes with a price tag and while living with your family you take basic necessities for granted, as an independent university student you soon realise that you have to pay for the water that runs in your tap and the electricity that powers your laptop. More importantly, you learn that you have to be punctual with the bills or else you could be making that really important phone call and realise that the connection has been suspended because of unpaid dues.

Managing money

It is true that no amount of money will ever be enough for humans to say that have as much as they want. But shortage of money is genuine and heartbreaking when you are a student; do you pay the rent or buy the textbook you need for the upcoming exam or you sit and regret why you went out three nights straight. After a few hiccups, you soon learn how to use your money wisely to live, study and graduate.

Socialising and making friends

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It is easy to drown yourself in studies and get stuck in the classroom-dorm-library routine but to live a healthy life, you have to have a social circle. Meeting strangers and making friends as an adult can be a daunting task but with a little effort and some trial and error, you teach yourself to attract good company and build healthy relationships.

Inventing recipes

You may be craving your mom’s famous pasta for dinner but you don’t have the time and ingredients to create that masterpiece. So you make do; you mix what you have in the pantry with a pinch of memories of home and a slice of mama’s love. Wallah! You have got yourself your own recipe which tastes great, is economical and easy to make. Your university life will be filled with such landmark events.

DIY skills

Necessity is the mother of invention and so when you finish your ice cream tub, you immediately know you will make a few holes at the bottom and use the container to plant your avocado seeds in it. Pickle jar as a toothbrush holder, bags made out of newspapers and Amazon boxes for storage under the bed – you learn to recycle and build your own stuff when you live independently on a tight budget.

House chores

One of the major realisations when you step into the adult life is that the dishes don’t do themselves and the garbage doesn’t get to the dumpster by magic. From doing laundry, cleaning your room to cooking three meals a day, university life teaches you how to run a household while you also study and work.

Punctuality

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Your parents and friends may tolerate (or even accept) your struggle with time but your professors and classmates won’t. Being on time for the 8:30am class, meeting for group assignments on the weekend and sending birthday wishes before it is late are steps towards becoming a more punctual person with each passing semester.

 

 

 

Farah

Out of the ‘Classroom’ ways to learn German

Out of the ‘Classroom’ ways to learn German

There usually are three kinds of people. Those who plan everything beforehand and pretty much hold on to the plans. Those who do not, whatsoever and leave it to the ‘gods’. And those who transit between the two cases. While I plan a lot of things, although not to the ‘German detail’, there are quite a few things I just do not. Or rather, let the time decide on my behalf. As it turns out, it works sometimes and for obvious reasons, sometimes, it doesn’t. I did not think twice before applying to an international master’s program in Germany. I did it, got admitted and then the question eventually arrived. Although quite late, it more or less punched right on the face. How are you planning to survive Germany without German? The brave me said: we’ll make it through, stop panicking. While the sensible and objective me reminded me of the seriousness of the situation and also reminded of the task in question was to learn a language. Of all, German.

Although my course was in English, there is no challenging the fact that in order for one to keep afloat, knowing the local language is indispensable. The blank stares do not work for too long you see? Or, at some point, you have to let go off your dictionary application to check for the allergic ingredients in your groceries.

There is no overseeing the boon the classroom German lessons have been. Nevertheless, as a student, it’s quite often the case that you can’t afford either of the two things: Money and time. And, sometimes, to make things worse, both. When we face a situation of the sorts, we have two options. 1. Whine about things you lack and daydream of how the world would turn around had you had all these things and 2. Make things happen. No matter what. In my opinion, true intention and perseverance is all it takes for you to get anywhere you want. Let’s stall the philosophy and cut to the chase right away.

Internet and intention

I’m of the opinion that if you have got internet and the intention to learn something, there is nothing stopping you from doing so. There literally are a thousand ways to get you home. Online courses are a big-time favorite of mine. These days, with the ever-expanding internet, there are handsome choices available. If you are looking for a structured online course, websites like lingoda offer a great deal. There are courses depending on your level and also, you can get a valid certificate after completion. Although the certified courses are as expensive as the intensive courses, the selling point is the flexibility. Not to forget, the free courses offered on Deutsche Welle are of great quality and structured and interesting as well. So, all that you pay is your time.

Of course, YouTube also has some nice lessons from various teachers who do a great job. My favorite is “learn Deutsch mit Anja”. Although they are quite helpful, the problem lies in them not being structured. You may have to figure out a way to get through them. I tried following the specific playlists according to the level and also at times when I had a particular grammar issue, they helped. Also, with Netflix eating up our leisure time, changing the subtitles or the audio to German turns out to be a win-win. Who doesn’t like win-wins?

The mobile applications such as Duolingo, Babbel, Memrise, and others (that, I have no idea of) help in improving our vocabulary. As they can be accessed anytime and keep reminding us to keep learning, our vocab skyrockets if we bend to the notifications we receive. A productive distraction is not such a bad thing. Isn’t it?

Hangout

Neither can you sit for straight hours in a classroom nor in front of a computer browsing lessons. You have to get out to the real world to learn how the real world interacts. My experience after living for more than 2 years now is that the people here are really friendly and welcoming. The only barrier, in my opinion, is to get out of the comfort zone in the beginning. Being an Indian, it was pretty difficult for the first few months as there was absolutely no way I could get out of my ‘Indian group’ as there were million mutual things to do and to relate to. But, it takes conscious efforts to get out of the group and hang out with the local people. The best way to do it is to find an activity or sports group and then swiftly slide into it.  Stuttgart being a city filled with expats, some groups regularly have a ‘’Sprachcafe” where you meet up with an intention to practice speaking with others.

Immerse

If you are planning a long-term stay in Germany. Then, it is imperative to know the language with the culture. So, the only way to do that is to immerse. Let go off your virtual interaction bubble you have created for yourself. There are several ways and levels at which you can begin. The easiest and the fun way are the parties. You can easily sneak into one of those house parties that are not so rare to find. In the beginning, especially if you are new to German, you will not understand anything, but just go with the flow and you will slowly start understanding when coupled with some effort with vocabulary

Another classic way of immersing is by staying with a German family. Although I have not experienced this myself, I have seen a few of my friends do it and have found a significant success. You not only learn the local way of living, if you are lucky, you are also bound to find a home away from home. If living with a family sounds offbeat to you, a Wohngemeinschaft or as it is usually called, a WG, might have interesting propositions to you.

Although a lot of the above-mentioned ways might sound routine meddling, if learning German is what you want and your intentions are concrete, these tips will be of help. But, without love for the language, you can’t go as far as you otherwise would. If there are any other tips that have worked for you, don’t forget to leave them on the comments below. Of what help is knowledge when it doesn’t help another? Right?

 

Saleem

The good, the bad and the ugly side of living in a student dorm

The good, the bad and the ugly side of living in a student dorm

If you are moving into a student dormitory and you have no clue what goes down there, this blog may give you some idea of the interesting world of shared living. While most of us have the experience of living with other people thanks to our family homes, living with strangers, that too from different backgrounds, is a different ballgame altogether. Here, I share with you the best, the not so great and some downright painful things about living in student dorms.

Diversity

While travelling to a new country means you will be meeting people from different cultures, living in a dorm ensures you interact with them and learn how big and beautiful this world is. This can be an interesting experience of learning and appreciating things we have in common.

 

Friendship

It is easier to get stuck in the bubble of your university friends and that’s where good relations with your flatmates can really pay off. Cooking and spending time with them allow you to interact with people who are not studying the same subject as you and most likely have more diverse background than your class.

Learning German

There would be at least one (most likely more than one) flatmate who speaks German. This presents you with a great opportunity to practise your language skills from the comfort of your home, quite literally. The routine talk in your dorm would ensure you know enough to hold a conversation in the streets.

Splitting cost

The best part about living in the dorm is that your get to split the bills for TV fee, kitchen supplies and other communal expenses. Who doesn’t want to pay only one-fifth of the total cost of the  toilet papers.

Shared material

If you are lucky to have decent human beings as flatmates who believe in sharing, moving into a dorm means you don’t have to buy a whole new set of kitchenware because there are already five frying pans and 23 spoons waiting to be used.

Different hygiene standards

Hair in the shower, overflowing trash cans and toilet seat tragedies are small (disgusting) battles you have to fight everyday. We all are brought up in different social context and this means we all have a slightly different understanding of cleanliness.

Stalemate situation

In apartments, where flatmates don’t get along very well, there are situations where people try to teach each other a lesson by not doing their assigned tasks because one of them is irresponsible. Leaving the dishes uncleaned, letting the garbage pile and not purchasing the shared supplies only intensify the crisis.

Smell of the food

While some of us have our mouth watering when we smell Indian curry or Nigerian fried fish, those not accustomed to diverse cuisines find it difficult to cope with the strong aromas. So, adjusting to the cooking of your flatmates could be a task in its own.

Taste in music

Pop music may be very popular but not everyone likes it; same is the case with heavy metal. But if your flatmate decides to blare their One Direction anthem through their room, there’s really not much you can do rather than singing along.

The WhatsApp group

Unlike old times, today you are connected with your flatmates even when you are not in the dorm. Thanks to smartphone apps, someone will confront you about not cleaning the toilets properly right away – with a text and a photo.

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Passive aggression

Long messages in group chats, post-it notes on the fridge and unclean dishes in the sink are typical passive aggressive moves that will be part of the dorm life drama.  

Doing laundry

In some dorms, the washing machines and dryers are located far away from the rooms, making it impossible to do laundry when needed. So you either own 13 pairs of socks or you keep wearing the two until the stink is unbearable.

Radiator-window combo

As simple as it may appear, not everyone understands the concept of keeping the windows shut when the radiator is on. This means there will be several occasions when your apartment would freeze you to the bone.

Strangers

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In your already crowded dorm, you will meet many strangers in the first few weeks of moving in. Don’t worry; they are the partners of your flatmates and virtually live here. So get on with it and be friends with them because you will be seeing them often.  

Putz plan

Keeping the apartment clean is everyone’s responsibility and you usually have a meticulously designed cleaning schedule but there’s always one person who refuses to clean the kitchen because they don’t cook that often or someone who is lazy and only does their tasks five days later.

 

Farah

KSat: A Student’s way to ‘the beyond’

KSat: A Student’s way to ‘the beyond’

Let’s admit this. Space has been amongst the greatest myths of our times. From a generation which thought the constellations to be gods to having evolved to realize them to be just one of those celestial objects, we have come a far way. This journey of space exploration keeps getting interesting every day and as far as what lies beyond is concerned, there are numerous stories and endless prophecies. We are an explorative species. As humans, we have always wanted to explore and find out what lies beyond the boundary someone else has already marked. This explorative nature fuelled continental expeditions in the past and currently, over the past few decades, has got us reaching to space and understanding the nature outside our planet. We have gone so far that we are on the brink of being an interplanetary species. It is an exciting time to be alive and to be discovering the beyond.

The University of Stuttgart has been quite been on the top of the game as far as research in the aerospace arena is concerned. The students of the Institute for space systems have a group which conducts experiments and sends them right to space! You read it right! This group of students, named KSat e.V. with the tagline small satellite student society at the University of Stuttgart, launch their successful experiments into the intercosmic space. They sure sound interesting, don’t they? Let’s get straight to knowing more about them.

The way it all started

Participating in a competition by the European Space Agency, a student group from the University of Stuttgart built the propulsion system for one of the projects which got launched and turned out to be fairly successful. With the success backing them, the project team founded KSat. With just around 10 members to start with, the group now has around 60 active members who contribute to the projects taken up by the team. When I interviewed Maximilian Von Armin, who is the ‘Pressesprecher’ (Press officer) of KSat, he quoted the mission of the group something like this,

“Space is not far away. It is accessible even to the students”

With an astounding objective of giving the students an opportunity to create their own experiments and fly them to the outer space or space-like environments, this group has slowly yet firmly making an impact in scripting a student’s way into space. There is no better boost to a student’s confidence than to see his work serving the intended purpose and thereby, contributing to this awe-inspiring field of science.

So, what exactly do they do?

Fascinating stuff. Period. Their website boasts a wide range of projects that the team has formerly been a part of and of course the current projects as well. The members usually come up with an idea, and pitch the concept in one of the competitions by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and if it catches their attention, they lend their support and the team gets on with the project. The DLR gives them the launch opportunities, expert assistance and also turns out to be the major source of money as well. With Thales Alenia as their other major partner, The team gets some monetary support and also opportunities to test their projects in exposed environments.

With a major focus on ‘space’ related competitions happening across Europe, their success in the previous endeavors has kept them going. With 3 successful missions and 4 launched missions in the sack of the 9 planned missions, the platform this group provides for an aspiring student is amazing. In order for the freshmen to get hold of what is happening, they conduct a competition solely for them. The aim being to create an experiment that fits inside a small soft-drink tin, which is then dropped from an airplane, the newcomers get to test their experiments on the flight. While the competition encourages innovation, it sure draws the greenhorn to the team.

The way into space

Well, normally, I would have titled this section ‘Awards and Rewards’. A minor shift from the routine as my interaction with Maximilian revealed that what they deem to be a reward is making it to space. That is quite a big offset from the norm especially for a mundane species like me. As he puts it,

“Our real reward is to earn room in the suitcase of an astronaut who goes to the International Space Station”

Succinctly so, their mission ROACH which will be launched in March 2018 is a robot which autonomously detects and repairs small damages on the spacecraft made by space debris or micro-meteorites. Another mission set to be launched in May 2018 is PAPELL. This experiment aims at pumping the ferrofluids (The fluids which develop magnetic properties in magnetic fields) without using any mechanical parts but just the nature of the liquid to transport them by manipulating the magnets.

As geeky as they sound, a slight shift in perception may lead you to note that they are the coolest form of geeks. As they prosper, their doors certainly are open to anyone who would like to be a part of the team. If you would like to know more about them and their activities, the first thing to do is to check out their website and their Facebook page. If the screen space doesn’t do enough to satiate your curiosity, reach out to them through an email or attend one of their meetings. Well, needless to mention the cool things you get to be a part of, what is also possible is publishing articles in scientific journals.

With a hope of having introduced this incredible group to you guys and expecting a few of you to find your way to the group, it’s now time to wrap. Space is not far from students. Don’t forget.

 

Saleem

10 interesting facts to know about Stuttgart before moving here

10 interesting facts to know about Stuttgart before moving here

While Stuttgart doesn’t pop up on the mental map of most people when they think about Germany, the city has its unique world war history, an ambitious plan to become the heart of Europe and a global standing as a happy place. If you are moving here as a student and are curious to know about the city, this blog will help you get up to speed.

Name

Stuttgart is the modern version of its older name Stuotgarten which means ‘a garden for the horses’. This name has its roots in the fact that the city was founded in the 10th century by Duke Liudolf of Swabia to breed war horses for his cavalry during the Hungarian invasion of Europe.

World War history

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As home to many military bases, crucial industrial infrastructure and centre of rail transportation in southwestern part of Germany, Stuttgart was in the crosshair of the Allies during the Second World War. The city was heavily bombed – around 142,000 bombs in 53 raids – between 1940 to 1945. More than 4,590 people were killed in these air attacks and 39,125 buildings were damaged or destroyed, creating 1.5 million cubic meters of rubble. Very few buildings were rebuilt and that is why one doesn’t see many old buildings in the city.

Least stressful city

In 2017, Stuttgart was named world’s least stressful city in a study. The high ranking was based on figures related to green spaces, family purchasing power and mental health of its citizens. Interestingly, of the 150 cities ranked, four out of the top ten most stress-free cities are in Germany: Stuttgart, Hannover, Munich and Hamburg.

Car industry

Stuttgart is home to the big car companies such as Mercedes Benz and Porsche. This is the place where the first car was created and the city continues to be dominated by the automobile industry.

Air pollution

Related to the car dominance is the fact that Stuttgart has the worst air quality in entire Germany. Due to the presence of scores of diesel-run automobiles on the road, the city suffers from a very polluted air with high levels of fine particulate. In 2016, the problem became so severe that the country had to issue its first air pollution alert, asking people to refrain from driving.

Stuttgart 21 project

The city is undertaking an ambitious railway and urban development project called Stuttgart 21, which aims to connect the city with major European

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centres by heavily redesigning its train terminals. The project has become a polarizing issue, with strong supporters and opponents in both public and political domains. Many of its critics have raised concerns over its cost, perceived benefits and environmental degradation.

Immigrant population

Stuttgart hosts a big migrant population, making it a very diverse German city. According to a New York Times article, “40% percent of Stuttgart’s 600,000 residents (or 60 percent of people under the age of 18) come from abroad, twice the national average. After the Second World War, foreign laborers rebuilt local industry: first Italians, then Greeks, Spaniards, Yugoslavians, Turks. And they’re still coming. Some 20,000 newcomers arrive annually, not counting the current wave of Syrians and others. Immigrants account for one of every three start-ups.”

Architecture studies

The city has a great reputation for architecture education. Two of its institutions, Stuttgart University and Stuttgart State Academy of Art and Design, are listed among the top ten architecture schools in the entire country.

Black Forest

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The famous Black Forest is just 160 km away from the city. The large forested mountain range in the south of Germany has pristine rivers, lakes and of course, dark dense trees. This is the place where the beloved black forest cake gets its name from but the region has so much more to offer such as cuckoo clocks, half-timber houses and twisting cobblestone streets.

Sundays

The last day of the week in Stuttgart is for resting and no work. This means that almost all the stores are closed and you should plan ahead of time to ensure you have all the necessary supplies to survive the day. While it may appear annoying to those who are not familiar with this, having an absolutely free day is actually a great way to recharge for the coming week.

 

Farah

Make the most of job fairs

Make the most of job fairs

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During the freshman year, parties are far and away the most awaited events on a university campus. The stress busters that they are, the happening that they are, the cool that they are, the endless good reasons that they are. Life is a party. As long as you can afford the parties. As time goes by, things start getting a little serious and we kinda start our lookout for job fairs. This is the point when the job fairs take over the parties and things start getting serious. Although job searching has gone wildly internet, a chance to meet the recruiter face to face certainly has its advantages. While for the job seekers, it is the time to explore the opportunities they can tap from the market and know the companies in their field of study, for the job providers, it is an event to attract the best of the talents from the graduates and also the career prospects they have in offer and focus areas of their organization.

The University of Stuttgart hosts a few job fairs where many leading companies and research organizations in the region participate. Albeit, these fairs might not seem as rewarding at the outset, careful consideration and preparation may well land you a job and if lucky, a dream one. So, here are a few tips to help you add more to chances to your job hunt than just luck.

Do the homework

The moment you get to know about the job fair, google to check if they have a website to find out more details. Make sure to pre-register for the event if it demands one. Out of the list of the companies at the event which is usually made available either on the advertisements, make a list of the prospective employers suiting your profile. Go a step further and read about their focus areas and prepare some questions to start your conversation with them. This will show the recruiters that you are well informed and prepared.

Photo by Alvin Mahmudov on Unsplash

The events that happen here usually have a desk with experts who will help you shape your résumé or CV or portfolio suiting the position you are applying for. Nevertheless, you have to prepare one beforehand for it to be altered and be molded. There are plenty of YouTube videos which will help you make the alpha version. Not to forget the profile photo, if you have one, good. If not, not bad. These events usually have a professional photographer who will click one free of cost. These photo sessions usually require pre-booking. Make sure you have an appointment in advance.

Sketch a plan; Have all bases covered

Quite often is the case that the fairs have a wide range of participating companies. Not all of them will have the kind of position you are looking for. Therefore, it makes sense only to visit the stalls of those companies that make it to your list. This will also make sure you don’t miss out on the possible opportunities. Since the recruiters are going to be around and the need for the first impression to be convincingly positive, prepare as you would for an interview. Make sure you sport an attire considered professional in the region the companies hail from.

It is recommended that you behave professional and not hang out with your friends in a way you would in any other fairs. My suggestion, go alone and follow your plan. There are chances that you may have an instant interview. Although the chances are less, there is no harm in being prepared. Since there will be many students at the fair, you can’t afford more than 5-8 minutes with one prospective employer. Make sure you have a ‘career pitch’ ready and communicate the same with enthusiasm. Plan a conversation time that would make an impression. Have a time plan and reap all that you can.

Build your network

There is no better networking opportunity than a job fair for the job seekers as well as for the employee seekers. From a student’s perspective, these fairs provide an opportunity to meet the recruiters in person. Make the most of this opportunity as the recruiters usually get hundreds of emails for the vacant positions advertised on the internet. Ask the right questions to the right people. Be careful not to ask the questions, the answers of which could easily be found by a simple search on the web.

Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

Carry more copies of your portfolio than you think might be needed as there could be last minute registration of some companies. After every conversation you have, make sure of getting a business card from the person you socialize with. Not to forget, another group of people you ought to network with are the fellow job seekers themselves. As they could help you with some information on vacancies that suit your profile.

Follow up

This is a major step that we all fail to do and thereby, fail to make the most. After the days of preparation for the fair and meeting lot of people on the day of the fair, we tend to get tired of everything and eventually give up. Remember, you are the one in need of a job. Follow up with the contacts you made at the fair. Look for the recruiters on employment-oriented social networking sites like LinkedIn or Xing and connect to them.

If you could manage a good conversation with someone, follow it up with a thank you email. Which turns out to be a great professional habit as well as might remind the recruiter of your candidacy. Don’t forget to reiterate your interest for a second interview. The employers meet a lot of candidates on the day and it totally makes sense to remind them of your existence and interest. Don’t think you are pushing too hard. Meanwhile, someone else might just do that and land a job.

Nevertheless, while doing all that might seem like an uphill task in the beginning, you will realize that all of the preparation was worthwhile when you land a job. Wishing you all the best and great amount of luck with the job fairs and the hunt. As the law of attraction states, Ask; Believe; Receive.

 

Saleem

Things I wish I had done differently during my stay in Stuttgart

Things I wish I had done differently during my stay in Stuttgart

Before I begin, I want to make sure of the fact that this is not a blog post meant in a contrite tone. Rather, this turns out to be a reflection of my stay in Stuttgart as a student for over 2 years now. Reflecting on what could have been better. Reflection on how better I could have made the most of my stay here. If you have already stayed abroad for your studies, a few of you may be able to relate to many things and a few of you may relate to fewer things. Subjective are the situations. And, so are the perceptions. Speaking of perceptions, there has been a major overhaul now after staying outside India for almost 3 years now. I look at the world way differently than how I used to a few years ago. This might change a few years later. But, as long as it is changing, I don’t mind. As I am certain of the fact that my thinking is evolving and rightly so.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Fortunate enough to have had a chance to study in Stuttgart and live in this beautiful city, undoubtedly, I have had a great time. Met a lot of people and made amazing friends. And, not to forget my travel across Europe. Did my time here hold on to the fantasy I thought it was before coming here? Well, I am unsure of being completely affirmative there. For my use of the word ‘Fantasy’ explains that. Nevertheless, with all the excitement fairly grounded now, there are certain things I wish I had done differently. Not that I repent, but, you know, would have been amazing had I done these things as well.

Started early with my German lessons

I sure did. The first lecture I attended, in fact, was an intensive German course. Would have made the difference had I realized how important this was going to be. I did have a world of new things to ground all my ardor. When you stare at the cashier at a supermarket blankly when he asks you ‘How would you like to pay?’ the realization strikes and it strikes hard. If you are here as a student, it is really necessary that you understand and speak a bit of German since you are likely to stay here for quite a decent period of time. However, I did take my own sweet time to realize the importance of speaking the local language and how I wish I had started a bit early.

Been more with locals

In the pursuit of getting our thoughts exactly the way we mean every time we speak to someone, we tend to hang out with those of our community quite often. Community could mean anything. Not listing it. In my case, the Indians being plentiful in Stuttgart, I used to hang out mostly with Indians for quite some time. Not that this is bad. But, again, unless you mingle with the locals, you would never understand how things work here. As long as you stay on the campus, it doesn’t matter, but, you eventually have to get out and face the world. When I did, I sensed a different world. Why? Well, I was getting out of my comfy cocoon and was quite not seasoned to confront the real world.

Hitchhiked and couch surfed

There are some things you can do only when you are young and independent. Hitchhiking and couch surfing, in my opinion, qualify as a couple on the list.

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The idea did seem quite strange to me and to date, I have only been wishing I had done it. While my preferences keep me from daring something of the kind, the bewilderment keeps any surprises at bay. If you have time and no preferences, pick a sleeping bag and get going. If you do not, express ‘how you wish you had done things’ (like I am doing) to your friends. Life today is nothing but organized uncertainties. I admit, at some point, we give in.

Made the most of Stuttgart’s nature

In a recent survey, Stuttgart was recently ranked as the least stressful city in the world. I am not sure I’d second that without any hesitation or bias. Nevertheless, one of the reasons Stuttgart made it to the top was because of the green cover in and around the city. I totally agree with this. Especially living in the beautiful Vaihingen campus with Pfaffenwald 100 meters from my room. Although, I started my jogging sessions through the forest last summer, How I wish I had started a little earlier. It is an amazing feeling to jog through the woods and breathe no harm into your lungs.

Made the most of my trips

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

Travelling around is something that most of us make sure of when we are in Europe. Like most of us, I follow the same sequence. Decide on a place, book my tickets, get there and roam around with no idea of the history of the place, buy some souvenirs, get back, flaunt my travel with posts on social media and sleep. Travel is supposed to make you wise. But, trust me, that would make not make you any wiser. Such a plan would just make you tired. Instead, what I wish I had done was to read about a place in advance before visiting the place, understood more about the culture, tried the local cuisine and you know, did the local thing.

Been more vigilant of the opportunities

By opportunities, I do not just mean jobs here. I mean all those opportunities which would have made my life richer (again, not just in terms of money) and my stay more meaningful. Often were days when I did nothing but watched a couple of episodes of my favorite series and been a couch potato. I wish I had not lazed time and been more cautious of the ever-unforgiving clock.

Well, that is it. Excuse me if that sounded like whining about my enduring friendship with procrastination. Another thing above all of the above is that I wish I had started without any expectations. Really, mounted up expectations on anything that is about to happen does little good. End of the day, what matters is how content is your life in your perception. If you snatched the authority of making memories from your mind and surrendered it to your camera, give it a thought. Who are the pictures for?

 

Saleem

Alternative Stuttgart: 9 offbeat things to do in the city

Alternative Stuttgart: 9 offbeat things to do in the city

Susann Städter / photocase.de

From TripAdvisor to Lonely Planet, the online world is replete with suggestions of clichéd activities to do if you want to explore Stuttgart. While there’s no denying that spending a sunny afternoon at Schlossplatz and marvelling at the evolution of automobile at Mercedes-Benz Museum are a must-do, there’s much more to enjoy if you are up for trying out non-touristy options.  Here are nine things you can do in Stuttgart to explore the city in a different way.

 

Jazz music

If you are a fan of Jazz or just want to spend some time with your friends listening to music in a cosy setting, head to the Traditional Jazz Hall for a night of impressive performances, traditional food and good drinks. Supported by the Cultural Office of the City of Stuttgart and the State Jazz Association Baden-Württemberg, the Jazz Hall has been entertaining visitors for good three decades now. With concerts by national and international bands, the Hall has kept the Jazz music alive in this corner of the city.

Photo on Unsplash.

Location: Marienstraße 3B, 70178

Game night

Do you enjoy playing a round of bluff, guessing random words and conquering the world? Then you will have a fun time at the Welt Cafe. On the first Monday of every month (with a few exceptions), the Welcome Centre Stuttgart organises a game night with either a quiz or board game competition. With people from all age groups, cultural backgrounds and language skills, the game nights give you a perfect opportunity to flex your brain and meet new people. The cherry on top is that winners get prizes.

Location: Charlottenstraße 17, 70173

Ghost tour

Every place has a history and beneath that, there’s always a mystery. And the city of Stuttgart is no different. If sitting around a campfire and listening to ghost stories is your guilty pleasure, then you should take the once-in-a-month ghost walk around the city.The tour is conducted in English and takes you to the Old Palace, the Market Hall and the Collegiate Church. Tales of spooky monks, headless horseman and shadowy figures will send chills down your spine while you will also learn about the practises of a former monastery, bloody decapitations and old cemetery traditions.

Location: Hirschstraße 2-4, 70173

Photo on Unsplash.

Karaoke night

Is perfectly lip-syncing to famous songs your superpower? And you get better at it if you have a nice, cold beer in your hand? Then Biddy Early’s Irish Pub is your place to be on Wednesdays. A warm and welcoming pub located in a cellar, Biddy Early’s organises Karaoke Party every week for a night filled with beautiful melodies, heartfelt laughters and flavoursome beers. Established in 1993, the pub is known for its drinks, atmosphere and staff.

Location: Marienstraße 28, 70178

Standseilbahn Stuttgart

An absolute gem from the past, the funicular in Stuttgart takes you back in time during its four-minute ride because the vehicle is preserved almost exactly as it was in its early days back in 1929. It was the first funicular in Germany with automatic control and the fastest; and was used to facilitate visitors to the forest cemetery which is located 90 metres above Stuttgart Heslach. Today, it draws hikers, study groups and tourists with its vintage charm and practical operation.    

Location: Südheimer Platz, 70199

Karlshöhe

Envisioned to be the ‘Acropolis’ of Stuttgart at one point in time, the serene hill of Karlshöhe today sit quietly between the western and the southern districts of the city. Known as Reinsburghügel until 1889, the hill was renamed as Karlshöhe in the honour of King Charles I after a beautification association acquired the land and converted the space into a public park. With its gardens and public park, the hill offers panoramic views of the Neckar valley. A beer garden for young and adults and a playground for children makes Karlshöhe a place for everyone and anyone who is looking for a break from city life.

Location: Karlshöhe, 70178

Vineyards

The vineyards of Stuttgart are hard to miss as some of them are located smack in the middle of the busy city. The plantations are believed to date as far back as 2,000 years ago when Romans planted grapevines along the Neckar River. Another legend says the holy monks cultivated wine in the region. In total, the city has 400-hectare of area dedicated for growing grapevines, 17 hectares of which is owned by the local government. A walk through them, coupled with a wine-tasting session can provide the much needed respite from the hectic urban chaos.

Location: Grunbacher Str. 5, 70327 (and many others)

Open air cinema

Photo on Unsplash.

What’s better than watching latest movies on a big screen? Watching them in an open-air cinema! With the magnificent Mercedes-Benz Museum building in the backdrop, viewers are treated to latest blockbusters in pleasant weather and comfortable seats. It is a temporary setup, showing movies during late summer/early autumn nights only; so grab your popcorns and some friends and head to the car museum.      

Location: Mercedes-Benz Museum, Mercedesstraße 100, 70372

Flohmarkt

If antique showpieces, vintage furniture and used books pique your interest, then the flea market at Karlsplatz is your thing. Organised every Saturday between 8am to 4pm, the flohmarkt has around 120 dealers selling items fit for rarity hunters and urban bohemians. The market has been taking place since 1983 and attracts local and tourists alike come rain or shine.

Location: Karlsplatz, 70173

 

 

Farah

Study spots in Vaihingen campus

Study spots in Vaihingen campus

A campus is a fun place. Or rather, we could term it as an inclusive place. Be it to the cool guys who would as a matter of choice, keep chilling than attending the boring lectures, be it to those lovely couples who would spend quality time at the beautiful campus or the be it to the nerds who dive deep into their books and experiments. Speaking of books and studies, come exams and everyone falls prey to the ‘study trap’. Getting done with the exams is all we want. And how do we get about, study relentlessly. Not to forget, the assignments and the daunting reports with those terrifying deadlines.

Some of us have the ability to turn our room into a study place whereas some of us have an eternal fondness for the bed. This pleasant yet perilous predilection drives us away from our rooms and what do we look for? A place in between the lecture halls and our bedrooms that creates an atmosphere to help us solve the differences with the books and to make a pact. Fortunately, we have a lot of study spots in the campus in Vaihingen to resort to. Some are hushful than ever whereas some are blatantly boisterous. The choice is on us. Wherever our mind is able to strike the deal. Quite often than not, we are not aware of a lot of these spots. This article gives you a lead to the existence of these study shrines and might help you with your choice as well. So, let’s go.

The university library orrr… the Bib!

A beehive of the diligent sort. If you are someone who likes a quiet surrounding to study, this is the place to go. It certainly has a lot of books and journals that might be of relevance to many of you. But, most of the students visit the library for the study spaces in the offer. The study tables are organized over 5 floors of the building. Although there are many slots for the students, if exams are around the corner, the slots get filled quickly than ever. So, if you would like a place to study, better be aware of the timings and get there on time. Another good and latest addition to the library is the ‘learning center’ which is quite modern and comfortable for long sessions. The learning center also has a presentation room, where the students can check for access and practice their presentations.

Universum and Aquarium

Placed under the mensa, beside the Frisch Markt, this is a more of a cool hang-out place than a serious study place. Nevertheless, the noisy surroundings mean that people do not mind loud discussions here. That makes it apt for the group study sessions or even qualifies as one of the best places for group project meetings. This is one of my personal favorites as I did not mind the loud noise and did have a copy and a coffee machine in the house. A staircase ascend fetched me food and a few steps of walking fetched me motivational snacks. Not just that, any moment you feel distracted, a look around would make you realize how serious people are with their studies and will help you find your way back into studiousness.

Aquarium is almost the same as Universum, minus the proximity to the Frisch Markt. It is located behind the Universum and is a little less noisy comparatively. It also does have a copy machine inside and is usually packed during the exams. Although both places are located in the heart of the campus, I would really like to see some refurbishment planned as a lot of furniture have already worn out. Also, how about some more amenities?

Arbeitsraum at Studenten Sekratariat

This is a tiny workplace for students in the new building in Pfaffenwaldring 5C. Not sure of many of you being aware of this spot as it turns out to be a new one. Consequentially, it is quite quiet for now. However, I am not sure of this place being able to hold on to the quietness for too long. For now, silence prevails.

Hochschule der Medien

Although this is a different university altogether, the Uni Stuttgart students get access to the library and Lernwelt that is housed in the HDM buildings. The library is very quiet as any other library would be and the first floor of the library has cool workplaces with some couches, beanbags and digital screens. The Lernwelt is also a cool place for study hangouts and has everything to make your study day a not so boring one. The timings for Uni Stuttgart students are however different from the HDM students.

Of course, the list does not end without the mention of the places available for students in different buildings across the campus. The cafeterias also turn into intense study zones during the examinations. Does not matter where as long as you are able to feed your mind with what is required for the course. Find the place your mind agrees to be fed in. For some of us, the place might right be our bedroom. Leaving it to your preferences, let me wind this short article up. Bye.

 

Saleem

What I loved the most about studying in Stuttgart

What I loved the most about studying in Stuttgart

Credits: Harshitha BV

It was a September night when I landed in Stuttgart for the first time. I don’t remember it for being particularly cold or something, it was rather warm and did not pose any warnings of the winter that was about to come. It took me a complete month to sink in. Make peace with my excitement. Get used to a hundred things. Some presented with a smile, while some pelted, of course with a smile. While the best way to describe the first few days was bewilderment coupled with the blank stare at the way things were happening around, what happened after that has been quite a journey. A lot of things were rather ‘offbeat’ for me. Wearing winter gloves to roaming around in jackets for a better part of the year. Breaking the ice with the scrupulous punctuality to my taste buds relishing käsespätzle. A lot has changed. From sporting a blank stare when someone said Entschuldigung to confidently replying Ja Bitte!

The excitement and joy of living and learning in Stuttgart shuns stalling. I moved to this beautiful city around 2 years ago and have not had a moment to say, Hey, look how far you have come. This turns out to be the ‘rewind’ moment for me and a way of putting across how lovely and lively Stuttgart has turned out to be for me. Let’s get straight to finding how awesome Stuttgart is!

Source: pixabay.com

Student-friendly

The student community in Stuttgart is quite sizeable and beyond a shadow of doubt, friendly. That makes the social climate so vibrant that you are likely to bump into a like-minded person more often than not. If you are feeling bored, all that you have to do is get out of your home and get to a happening place like Stadtmitte or hit one of those student bars on the campus. Your boredom and your night will be taken care of. Museums and other touristic locations always have a student discount making them affordable.

Getting around the city

I must mention, the best privilege in my opinion that we get as a student in Stuttgart is the semester ticket that is made available at a reduced price. This helps you get around the city as many times as you like and at the time you like. This also hands you the opportunity of exploring the beautiful landscape of the valley of Stuttgart without having to worry about your wallet going nuts. I see it as a boon that takes me beyond my route from my dorm to lecture halls.

Nightlife

Source: pixabay.com

Had a long day full of lectures or got consumed by the pile of assignments? The student bars on the campus have their doors open during the weekdays. The weekends usually have more to offer. Parties, live music, Karaoke or a silent bar to hang out with friends. Anything that your wallet and mind agree to. The students here just need a reason to party. A streak of semester opening parties to begin with and a few more semester ending parties to end with. Not to forget, the house parties that happen in the dorms which you can sneak in even if you remotely know a host.

The community

The community in Stuttgart is quite international and that makes it really easy when you move in. You get to meet people from across the globe. If geography didn’t interest you in school, there are possibilities of you finding about the existence of country by meeting a person from the country. The locals are really welcoming and very helpful. They may seem reserved to strangers. But, once you break the ice and grab a beer, life gets simple and fun. To add to it all, the city is not too large. That means, usually you are within the reach of things and that makes it easy. Unless you live in a really remote location, the public transport is always at your disposal.

The Beautiful campus

My favorite part of the city is the Vaihingen campus I live in. Lively or quiet, books or beer, as you like it. The campus has a lot of students living in it with them the brio. Practically, there are zero chances of being bored if you live in the campus. A run through the Pfaffenwald past all the beautiful ponds all the way to Bärenschlössle is my pick of the pastimes. The tranquillity just lifts you away from all the worldly worries bothering you.  Nevertheless, if there is a sport that you play, check the list of offerings from the Hochschulsport which is also conveniently located within the reach. There are hardly any ways living here can get any better.

Learn a new language

The best way to learn a language is when everyone around is talking the language with no one to translate it to you and you have to somehow make sense of it. It may turn out to be bothersome in the beginning. But, trust me. It gets better and after some time, you’ll end up learning a lot more than you would sitting in the classes in a country that doesn’t speak German. You go to any shop or office in Stuttgart, the first words spoken will be German and sometimes the only language spoken too. How better could it get if you want to learn a language?

Travelling across Europe

Source: pixabay.com

As an international student, you wouldn’t want to miss out on traveling across Europe. The visa that I got lets me travel to any Schengen countries without having to worry about any visa hurdles. This is one big advantage if you are a globetrotter and a victim of serial backpacking. Staying in Stuttgart, you have great connections to almost all the big places in Europe. Fly, rail, bus, bike or hike, your call. All that you have to worry about is how to make those extra bucks. There surely are many ways if you really want to.

Yet, I can go on and on on how splendid this city has been during my stay here. A recent survey rated Stuttgart as the least stressful city in the world. With no intention of undermining the cities I have not lived in, let me prudently put it this way, Stuttgart is quintessentially tranquil. If you are already in Stuttgart and want to add something to the list above, comment below. Not yet in Stuttgart? But considering moving to Stuttgart as a student? Let me know if there is something you would like to particularly know about by commenting below. Let’s Wrap with that thought. See you!

 

Saleem