For many young people these are their first exciting days in Germany, far away from home. But they have taken the journey on to study at the Ravensburg-Weingarten University of Applied Sciences (RWU). To help the newcomers starting their new life in Weingarten, RWU has organized the traditional "Welcome and Orientation Week" as usual.
For the approximately 75 young people from 19 different nations, such as Bangladesh, Mauritius, Nepal and India, the programme during the Welcome and Orientation Week is mainly organisational. Together, with student assistants from the International Office and other voluntary helpers, the students take care of their matriculation at the university, go to the registration office, open a bank account, take out health insurance and get to know the university. "It is important how the students start their time at the university. This is something that often runs through the entire course of study," explains Ramona Herrmann. As coordinator for international full-time students, she is responsible for planning and implementing the event. "Many of the international students who start in the summer semester are right at the beginning of their education. This makes it all the more important for us to accompany their first steps abroad," says Herrmann.
A special tradition: Eating Spätzle with lentils together
A special tradition of the Welcome Week is the lunch at the university. At the round tables in the foyer, different nationalities mix with lentils and Spätzle. Ece Gamze already learned German during her school days in Istanbul. She comes to Weingarten as an exchange student in the course of study Business Informatics. However, her decision to study in German is an exception; most international students choose one of RWU's English-language programs.
Next to Ece is Nipaporn Limsiriwong from Phitsanulok in Thailand. She is also coming to Weingarten as an exchange student and will be attending courses in English at the International Academy at RWU in the Industrial Engineering and Management program. For her first impression of Germany in March, she only needs one word: "cold". When the taxi is late in the morning after her arrival, she sets off on foot to the dormitory with all her luggage. "I was told that Germans are always very punctual. And I didn't want to upset anyone."
This year, a German student has also mixed among the international students
Varun Chand completes the international round at the lunch table. The young man from Pune in India will study E-Mobility and Green Energy at the RWU and complete his entire studies in Weingarten. Why is Weingarten attractive for students from so many countries? One important argument, according to Varun, is the English-language offerings. In addition, the peace and quiet and the resulting concentration on studying is attractive for young people from the metropolises. Ece agrees: "Weingarten is quiet and very beautiful and it's perfectly located near many other countries."
A German student is also among the young people at the International Welcome Week. "I was looking for a technical degree course and wanted to study in English," says Max Schäfer. That's how he became aware of e-mobility at RWU. The young man from Westerwald near Koblenz says he sees better opportunities on the job market thanks to the international orientation. "I can also imagine working abroad."
The Welcome Week as an integral part of RWU
Meanwhile, the Welcome Week has become a permanent feature at RWU. "The Welcome Week has a long tradition at the university and we are very proud of it, because it is always very well received," says Ramona Herrmann. Just two years ago, about 35-45 international students attended the event. Today the number is twice as high. But not only the participants, but also the activities have doubled over the years, so that the schedule has become tighter and they have to work with parallel groups. For Ramona Herrmann, organising the Welcome and Orientation Week has become a major part of her work, but she never gets bored: "Every Welcome Week is a little different. It's always exciting to get to know the new students, to learn how they come here at the university and to see what kind of relationships develop.
The "Welcome and Orientation Week" is followed by a one-week intensive German language course before studies officially begin in mid-March.
Text: Hannah Bucher / Christoph Oldenkotte