So you’ve decided to study abroad. All the paper work is done and now it’s a matter of counting down the days, but in fact the work has just begun. Once getting accepted into the program there are many steps you need to complete to ensure a positive study abroad experience. One of the most important is finding a place to stay. Finding the right place sets the overall tone of the study abroad experience. It’s vital to find a place based on your needs.
The first step is to start early. I know many people that arrived in Mannheim without knowing where they were going to stay. These people slept in hostels before finding an apartment. This often leads to rushed decisions and they wind up in a place that isn’t ideal. I started the search a good month before arriving in Mannheim. I would advise to start around this time because this is the time when listings become available. Also it might take a couple of weeks to find an apartment right for you and it might take a couple of days for the owner to respond to your inquiry.
Also before starting your search, know roughly where you want to live and in what type of place you want to live. For me I knew that I wanted to live as close to the university as possible and also in a private accommodation. Mannheim University offers incoming exchange students dormitories via a company called Studentenwerke Mannheim. Although it looks appealing to live in these dorms I would strongly advise against it. Sure it is easier to apply to these dorms but it will limit your study abroad experience. It might be comforting living with a lot of other international students in these dorms and easier to make friends due to the close surroundings but it’s also limiting. To start off, living with other international students limits your exposure to the culture of the country. Having little contact with Germans means that you won’t speak the language and your knowledge will not improve. Many international students often stay in their respective country groups. I feel that living in the dorms compounds this. On the other hand I chose to find a private accommodation because I wanted to be more immersed into the culture. Living alone or with Germans means that you can’t shy away from a new culture, instead it forces you to interact with it.