I arrived in Reutlingen in the beginning of March, roughly a week before the beginning of the summer semester. The first weekend and the following week I spent settling in and getting to know the city, taking an intensive German course and meeting and hanging out with all my fellow international students. When the actual studies began, I found myself having a lot of free time since my courses had very little contact hours compared to my studies back at home. This gave me more time to explore Reutlingen, my home for the following six months and of course the surrounding areas, especially Stuttgart and Tübingen.
Reutlingen is a city in Baden-Württemberg located about 35 km south from Stuttgart. With a population of roughly 114 000 citizens it is the ninth-largest city in Baden-Württemberg and is nicknamed “The Gate to the Swabian Alb” as its area is largely located in the Swabian Alb. The Hochschule Reutlingen is a university of applied sciences that was founded originally in 1855 as a College of Weaving and Textiles as an initiative of local textile industry. Reutlingen University offered me good opportunities and facilities to study textile technology and also a bit of Fashion management.
Back in TAMK I study bioproduct and process engineering, so studying textile technology here was already very different because of the different subject. The school has large workshops and laboratories for spinning, weaving, weft and warp knitting and textile finishing where me and my group mates got to see and learn hands on the process of producing textiles all the way from the fibre to the finished garment. I had less contact hours during the week and more working on my own writing papers and reports than what we have back in Finland. Even though I had two group projects here, I would still say the style of teaching is less based on learning and working together in a group like it is in Finland. In addition to the textile courses, I also took one course in International management which was very interesting. I also had a German language course. It was great to notice myself getting more and more comfortable using my German language skills in everyday interactions with Germans. Also having a German tandem partner who I taught Finnish and she taught German to me is a great opportunity to learn more of the language.
One of the interesting opportunities I had in my studies was the possibility to go on a excursion to Hannover Messe, one of the world’s largest industrial trade fairs. It is held every year in the Hanover Fairground in Hanover, Lower Saxony. We left early in the morning for our eight-hour bus ride to the fair, spent eight hours exploring the fair and then drove eight ours back to Reutlingen. The trip was tiring but the breakfast Brezels we were served by the university gave us a good start for the day and some energy to head off and explore the huge fairground. The fair covers all areas of industrial technology from research and development, industrial automation, IT, industrial supply, production technologies to energy and mobility technologies.
I had some time for travel during the holidays. A road trip to see Vienna, Budapest and Bratislava and learn about their history was a great experience. Vienna with its beautiful buildings, Budapest with its laid-back atmosphere and the cute old town area of Bratislava. Seeing the beautiful Hungarian Parliament Building during a boat cruise on the Danube river was an amazing experience. On our day trip to Switzerland we saw the Rhine Falls, and the cities of Luzern and Zurich. Swimming in the Lake Zurich on a hot day was refreshing and I finally got an opportunity to get rid of my winter furs.
Day trips in the surroundings of Reutlingen and Tübingen were easy to do with our bus card called Naldo which let us travel by bus and train in a large area around Reutlingen. I visited the Lichtenstein Castle and the Hohenzollern Castle with my international friends just to name a few places. It was interesting to learn about the local history in the castles. We also the visited the Landesmuseum Württemberg in Stuttgart and the Mercedes-Benz Museum both with interesting exhibitions. Also the Stuttgart Frühlingsfest was an great experience with all the rides, beer tents and overall festive atmosphere. Spending May Day there was definitely worth it. I still have a few weeks of my exchange period in Reutlingen left before going back home, so I’m planning to explore and see more of Germany!