Liebe Grüße aus Mannheim – warm greetings from Mannheim,
one of the cities in the Rhein-Neckar-Metropole-region in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. My time so far here in Mannheim has been an unforgettable time and I am looking forward to my remaining time here until July. I speak German as my mother tongue which means, that I can’t have the view of a “foreigner” but on the other hand I have been able to see a lot deeper into the everyday life and society here.
Mannheim was almost completely destroyed in the second World War and after that they decided to build the city center into squares which gives Mannheim it’s own flair – no street names (only letters and numbers, mine for example D6, 12), geometrical routes from one place to another and a demanding organization of the traffic. Mannheim is also a multicultural city where especially the Arabic culture meets the German. I have the opportunity to go to a Turkish bakery, super market or café – that is amazing and gives Mannheim also a special flair.
There ist a University, a Music University, 2 Universities of Applied Sciences and some smaller Institutes here in Mannheim and because Mannheim isn’t a huge city itself you can feel the number of students in the street view.
I study at the Musikhochschule Mannheim – the Music University – which has about 500 students from all over the world. As in most Music Universities in Germany over 60 percent of the students are not from Germany. In Mannheim there are especially many students from Asia, mostly from Taiwan and South-Korea. Since the beginning of my studies last September I have had the chance to study in a very special intercultural environment – sometimes it’s me, who doesn’t understand a word of the conversations when for example my Taiwanese friends have a intense dialogue in Chinese. Also the working moral of the Asian people is something all Europeans look up to. On the other hand I’m also aware of how privileged I am – as an Finnish-German European citizen I don’t have to worry about visa, student grants, language prejudices or collisions of two very different cultures. One of my prejudices has also turned out to be wrong: Though the music students from Asia are a class for themselves when it comes to music organizing or being well-organized in other fields of life is not their strength, I think this is a funny fact 🙂
In general I can’t compare the university here with the tiny music department of Tamk. For the first time in my life I only have all kind of music students from different programmes (performing, pedagogical, solo, music education, composing, conducting, media) around me and there is a special spirit at the university.
My studies here consist of percussion classes with two professors, music theory subjects, music pedagogy seminars, orchestra and choir project, chamber music, percussion ensemble and Alexander technique and of course all the practical projects end with one or more concerts. Last week the choir of the University sung together with the Baden-Baden Philharmonic Orchestra and last December we sung Händels’s Messias-oratorium.
During my semesters here I have tried to take as much classes and seminars as possible. Here comes also the first difference to my studies in Finland: financial ressources and the ability to form your studies by yourself. As a student you can choose from a large spectrum of seminars and the groups in music theory subjects are very small (sometimes just 2 students). At Tamk I don’t really have the chance to choose freely from different seminars. I have noticed that I like more the system here in Mannheim than in Finland.
The academic standards for home essays are high – Germany is one of the leading countries in Music Research and Music Sciences. Learning the way of the academic writing is one of the things I wouldn’t learn in Finland. Also the students are high educated – the have to have finished high school with matriculation examination.
At Tamk I am used to the evaluation of the seminars and self-evaluation and the dialogue between the students and the professors. The university here has a old-fashioned hierarchy and the students can’t really cititicise anything. Recently the student body has gotten more active and pointed out some really serious things which the university has done against the rights of the students. In this Germany could learn a lot from Finland.
Because Germany is also a home to me I don’t feel the urge to travel around Europe like most exchange students – I focus on the everyday life and sometimes I visit my relatives here in Germany. I live in the squares and right next to the Unisport – in my spare time I do a lot of sports with friends. I was lucky to get a room in a student home of the Catholic Church (it means this student home is modern, we can do lots of activities and the students have to pass an interview in order to get a place). This week we had already 27 degrees and today we opened the barbecue season! 🙂 I also work as a musician in the Holy Mass of the Catholic Student Community which is a great opportunity for me to get work experience.
In January I travelled to the French Alps with friends and in the Easter break to Rome – two unforgettable and influencing trips.
As a conclusion I would say that I would like to continue my studies here right away but of course I will first come back and graduate from Tamk – after that I can imagine that my life will continue here in Mannheim.
Frühlingsgrüße aus Monnem’ 🙂
#läuft – a popular German word which means that everything is in a good balance and you enjoy life everything you do!