It’s very hard to ignore VISUM if you are an international student here at Mannheim. In fact, VISUM will be one of the first things you get to know and something that will be involved in your social and student life here in Mannheim. VISUM or the Verein Internationaler Studentenpartnerschaften an der Universtiaet Mannheim is an organization that helps exchange students adapt to everyday life in Germany. This organization is a student initiative and its main goal is to facilitate partnerships between German students at the university and exchange students via numerous different methods.
I was introduced to VISUM even before I left for Germany with the buddy program. This program pairs a Mannheim student with an exchange student for the semester. If you attend Mannheim you will be sent an email asking if you want to have a buddy. At first I was skeptical but I decided to do it anyways. I was contacted by my buddy a couple of months before the start of the semester, which gave me plenty of time to get my questions answered. I strongly advise to register for the buddy program because when you arrive in Mannheim you at least have someone you know there. That being said you can’t choose your buddy, it’s a bit hit or miss to be honest. For instance, I only met my buddy once the whole time I’ve been here and I haven’t talked with them since the start of September. The biggest problem was that my buddy was already a final semester grad student so as a second year bachelor student, there wasn’t much common ground. On the other hand I’ve met people here that get along really well with their buddies and have done a lot of things with them. Even if you don’t wind up friends with your buddy it is still a good source of information and help offered by VISUM.
Another cornerstone activity for this organization is the stammtisch. Every monday night VISUM hosts this event at a bar close to the university. Both exchange and Mannheim students get the opportunity to get a drink and socialize. There usually is a theme every week or a game that forces you to get to know people. For example, a couple of week’s ago the stammtisch was hollywood themed. It’s always a very relaxed atmosphere and you really do get to meet a lot of new people. When I first got here I went to the stammtisch every week and it really helped me to meet people.
VISUM also does weekend trips to major German cities. Their big weekend trips were to Munich for Oktoberfest and Berlin this year. They also arrange smaller day trips to Frankfurt and the surrounding areas around Mannheim. Other events VISUM organizes are pub crawls and international parties. The parties are usually every Tuesday night at different clubs in Mannheim.
VISUM really is a helpful organization. Its numerous events and its helpful members helped me settle into life here in Germany.