Jessica Ly, Bachelor of Engineering
Short-term program: Hessen University ‘Hessen International Summer University – Kassel’
Germany (June/July 2018)
My host university was the University of Kassel. It’s located in central Germany between the cities of Frankfurt and Hanover. For the International Summer University (ISU), most of the classes were held in the same building across the road from the main campus. The main facility I used on campus was the Mensa (cafeteria). The food was quite cheap, around 2 to 3 Euros for a meal, and a quick option in between classes.
I was lucky enough to live between the main train station (Wilheimshohe Bahnhof) and the main university campus. This made travel very convenient to and from uni as I had several tram options within the city and also being 5 minutes’ walk away from the regional train station meant that I could easily depart and arrive back at my accommodation on weekend trips. I ended up with a whole flat to myself which was very nice. The building was like ten townhouses joined together and my host mother owned one of the ‘townhouses’. She lived on the ground floor of the building, rented out the second floor and the third floor was where I stayed. In the flat I had a bathroom with a bath tub, toilet and sink; kitchen area with stovetop, oven, fridge, dishwasher and sink; living area furnished; and bedroom with a study area. I really enjoyed living there because it was a cosy space and I could easily go downstairs to see my host mother.
My schedule for classes was set out really well. We all had German class every morning and either one or two classes after. So most days I had the afternoon off to explore the city or do some activities organised by the ISU team. The World Cup was on during our time there, so I spent a lot of time watching the matches with the other students. The tutorial classes we had for our modules were very helpful for the final exam so it certainly reduced exam stress.
Germany has a very strong focus on research so most of our lectures were based around research conducted by the lecturer with theory combined throughout the lesson. This was not my first time in the country so I did not have much culture shock however one afternoon my friends and I decided to walk through one of the big parks which had the Fulda River running through it. We didn’t know it at the time but several of the areas in the park were zoned for nude swimming. Even though it was a relatively cold day, there were still people who were comfortable in the bare.
I think some of the biggest advantages of this program are the excursions and field activities. As part of the renewable energy course I took, we got to go to a wind farm and inside a windmill. This was definitely a one in a lifetime experience as normally you would not be able to gain that type of access. We also visited Viessmann headquarters which was very cool. The global company specialises in heating systems and manufactures boilers from that factory. Another class we had was taught by a professor who invented a portable water filtration system, initially targeted for emergency situations, but also provides safe drinking water straight from an unclean water source. About 1000 units have been sold to places all around the world.