vineri, 10 octombrie 2008

Herzlich Willkommen in Deutschland!

My name is Paul Sava. I was born in Romania in April 3rd, 1984.
I have a BA in English and French at the University of Iasi, Romania.
I am currently pursuing my MA in American Cultural Studies at the same university.
I received an Erasmus scholarship at the Universität Konstanz in Germany for the winter semester 2008/2009. My field of study at the Universität Konstanz is called British and American Studies, simply BAST.
I intend to use my blog as to tell my fellow potential Erasmus students what it is like here.
First of all, I will say something about the travel arrangements.
I travelled from Romania to Germany using the everlasting mediocre services of a Romanian travel company called Atlassib. Why am I telling this? Because I had to change three buses in order to arrive in Konstanz. But some of my fellow Romanian students travelled by plane and by train (either to Munich, Stuttgart or to Frankfurt).
It is a long long journey you have to make if you want to travel by bus. In my case, we are taking about 40 hours from a city in the Moldavian region to Konstanz.
My home university was extremely kind in providing the financial aid for my travel arrangements. But, if you come from the upper class, it is redundant for you to have anything to do with the corruption, bureacracy and incompetence which constitute the essentials of the administration services here at the University of Iasi, Romania.
I travelled through Hungary, through Austria and finally through the southern part of Germany.
I must say that Hungarian customs really suck. Why am I saying this? Because it is my second time in this year when I waited 3 hours at the Romanian-Hungarian customs because Hungarian customs have something against the behaviour of Atlassib as this travel company does not offer any kind of bribe for an easy acces from Romania to Hungary. Anyway it is sad to see how the Hungarian customs officers exercise an immoral right to check Romanian citizens travelling within the borders of the European Union. Romanian citizens trying to enter Hungary have different legal rights than any kind of European citizen trying to enter Romania. No Romanian stakeholder gives a damn about this humiliation exercised on Romanian voters. They only care for huge bribes and illegal practices when it comes to public or governmental contracts adjudicated to organized crime private companies.
I met here at Uni (this is the current abbreviation here for the University of Konstanz) many Romanians. Most of them come from traditional university centers: Iasi, Timisoara, Brasov and Bucharest. Some are studying Law, Economics, Languages, Literatures, Cultural Studies, Computer Science, Politics, History and so on (unfortunatelly at this moment I am unable to mention the equivalents in German of these fields of study). We are few Romanian MA students here. Most of them are in the BA programme. From what I have seen so far most of the Erasmus Romanian students come from Iasi, and from the Faculty of Letters.
This week I took part in the Orientierungsprogramm Für neue internationale Studierende, that is the Orientation Program for New International Students. I had to take a German language placement test which ended up in assigning me to one of the groups of total beginners in terms of fluency in German. I had to register to the University of Konstanz. I had to pay the first rental payment and to sign the accomodation contract. I pay for my room 191 euros monthly.
So far I made some tours: that of the University's library and that of the Computer Center.
As far as I know the University of Konstanz has three major student accomodation facilities: Europahaus (in Paradies neighbourhood), Sonnenbühl Ost and Sonnenbühl West. I will not go into details as there is enough information on the Seezeit's webpage.
I live in Ost. The Ost residence consists of 12-rooms houses ranging from A to T. For instance Haus B, Haus F, you see what I mean. In German you have to say Zimmer for Room [tsimaR]. Each house has two toilets, one for boys and one for girls. Similarilly there are two shower rooms, one for boys and one for girls. There is a kitchen in each house where everyone can use everyone else's cooking tools provided that they wash them after using them. Similarly, there is a fridge (in most cases one but there are houses with more than one fridge) where everyone can put their food as they have keys for their section).
In my haus there are students from Romania, Iraq, Poland and Czech Republic. There are over 30 Romanian students in Ost.
The Language Institute teachers had a short interview this week with all the International Students from the October Orientation Program. As a result they (the students) were advised to take German language courses corresponding to their level of German. Each course has a number of ECTS credits which probably will appear in the Transcripts of Records and in the Learning Agreement.
My level of German is Grundstuffe (total beginner). Probably I must say thay I know though some introductory sentences in German and I have a limited vocabulary (about 30 words). I expect to have an easy learnig of German because I am very good at English and as I may know German and English are related languages.
What should I say more? Let me think...
Oh. Next week I, as an International Student, have the opportunity to choose (or, as some German professors say, to choice) the courses, the lectures and the seminars I want to participate to in order to achieve my study plan.
The real beginning of the lectures is 20th of October, 2008.
My first and current impression of University of Konstanz?
The building, I was told, is quite new, it is based on modern architecture.
But it looks so strange to me, as a Romanian. It looks like a mall, a factory and a bank all in the same place. I do not want to offend my potential German readers, but this is my impression of the university's building, so far.
There are all sorts of activities in the main building: students and professors can have a coffee, a juice, an icecream, a tea etc. You can play fussball. You can eat. You can withdraw money from geldautomats (ATMS). Here and there you can see people carrying heavy boxes. There are some workers around the building. There is even a gay-cafe! Totally inconceivable for a moderate Liberal Romanian Orthodox person like me. Not that I have something against sexual minority groups! There are automats by means of which you can recharge your CopyCard, your RefectoryCard (Mensa Karte), your WashCard (Wash Karte).
You can also recycle juice, soda bottles or even plastic bottles. A specific automat/machine gives you back 15 eurocents for each returned bottle. This is called, I guess, refunding.
A big minus for the officials of the Uni: they have difficulties in answering in English to my (and not only mine because not everybody speaks German, you know, my distinguished German reader...) questions made in English. Most of them answer in German and it is really very hard for me to understand them. I would have expected a more flexibility in this respect.




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