Welcome back to the continuation of my blog post about the arrival and enrollment process here in Mannheim! After running around setting up bank accounts and getting the health insurance and enrollment squared away, the next day, we had to go back to a different place on campus to pick up our ecUM cards- the university ID card. There was quite a long wait to pick up the ID cards, so we went over to another place on campus to pick up our university login and password for the campus internet/course registration and email. However, there I was told that my username and password “weren’t ready yet” so I would need to come back the following day to get those. I was able to get the ID card, but wasn’t able to do anything with it yet since I couldn’t validate it at the self-service terminals on campus without my username and password.
After that, we needed to register with the government office located in the K7 block of Mannheim (more on the layout of Mannheim’s city center in a different blog post). I had heard that the government office there was notorious for being an unpleasant experience, but registration there with the city of Mannheim is mandatory within the first week of your arrival, so a group of us headed up to complete the registration. The registration office was packed with at least a hundred or so other people, including other university students but also individuals and families, all waiting to register. The office had a numbered ticket system, much like taking a number at a deli counter in the supermarket. While waiting for our numbers, we had to fill out the registration form, which was all in German, but luckily they had a cheat sheet with some English translations for assistance on filling it out. There was probably a hundred or so people in front of us, but after maybe an hour or so, my number was up, and within a few minutes was handed some official documents that were stamped by the government office person and told that was it, I was registered with the city. After completing the registration, I went back to the office on campus to pick up my login information, and luckily it was ready even though I came back the same day.
All of this goes to say that the stereotype that Germans are very organized and efficient may not be as accurate as many of us think. This process as you can probably see, was quite confusing and was not explained very well to us by the university beforehand, leaving us to figure most of it out on our own. I was fortunate to be able to be able to have met up with the other Drexel students, so that we were all confused together but were also able to figure it out together. Unfortunately though, this was not the end of the confusion- in my next blog post I will attempt to explain the University’s course registration process and the online portals they use.
Until then, I’ll leave you with a picture of me from Heidelberg, which a group of us visited. Heidelberg is a very quick train ride from Mannheim, and is well known for its medieval castle and altstadt (old city). In the background you can see the Schloss (Castle). Auf Wiedersehen!