Creating a supportive and inclusive student community is at the forefront of the SRH University Heidelberg values. Our international students report on the interactive event for first-year students.
In the past, excited first year students would gather by the hundreds for workshops and social events in the first week, where they would be introduced to German culture, customs, and social norms, led by the International Office and faculties. Considering that current interactions take place digitally, this creates challenges that are further compounded by the fact that many new students of the Summer Semester 2021 are still in their home countries and arriving sporadically.
To support international first year students, the International Office, Student Helpers, and Student Ambassadors found a solution – interactive virtual events led by students, for students. Firstly, this would allow the new international students to meet and engage with their seniors and create an informal setting, in which senior international students could share their experiences with the German culture. Although some of the speakers are German, they have lived abroad and were able to also join the events and share ideas.
In the weeks leading up to the semester start, new students were invited to ‘The 10 Things I wish I Knew Before Coming to Germany’ and a ‘German Crash Course’. The feedback from students was overwhelmingly positive, and although the offers were not mandatory, nearly all first year students attended!
In the ‘10 Things I wish I Knew Before Coming to Germany’ event, Student Ambassadors, Student Helpers, and the International Office discussed their top 10 tips about how to prepare to come to Germany. Essentially, they pointed out the most surprising and challenging factors students face when arriving, such as preparing their transportation from the airport in advance, carrying cash for stores and coins for public toilets, as well as not overpacking, since Heidelberg has a number of ethnic markets and shopping. To keep the audience engaged, the speakers told funny stories about how they learned these tips the hard way!
Once the semester began and students started arriving on the campus, first year students were invited to the ‘German Culture Crash Course’. The event, aimed at preparing international students for their stay in Heidelberg, helped ease the cultural misunderstanding by briefing them about the culture, traditions, food, industry, as well as some interesting local destinations, locations and museums. To make the event more interactive, participants had the opportunity to test their knowledge about Germany during a Kahoot Quiz. The three finalists even received some prizes.
One freshman commented ‘I think everybody will be eagerly waiting for their quarantine to end’, which the moderators should take as a compliment.
Special thank you to the students who led these events:
10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Coming to Germany:
- Anuj Khot, Moderator & Speaker, International Business & Engineering, M.Eng.
- Frédéric Hartmann, Media & Speaker, Wirtschaftsrecht, LL.B. (Business Law)
- Tushant Tushant, Speaker, Information Technology, M.Eng.
- Yash Pandey, Speaker, Applied Computer Science, M.Sc.
- Dennis Kleinbeckes, Speaker, International Management & Leadership, M.A.
- International Office Speakers – Anja Loos, Roxane Velfringer, Stephanie Farrar
German Culture Crash Course:
- Dennis Kleinbeckes, Moderator & Speaker, International Management & Leadership, M.A.
- Sarah Abu-Atmeh, Moderator& Speaker, International Management & Leadership, M.A.
Sarah Abu-Atmeh: writer
Stephanie Farrar: writer & editor