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“To see one’s own world through someone else’s eyes is an incredible enrichment.”

The cultural diversity determines the university life on the Heilbronn campus. Out of the current 100 students, 23 are German. The other 77 students come from 19 different countries, including Bangladesh, Mexico, Nigeria, India and Iran. What kind of challenges are the newcomers to Germany facing, and how does the TUM School of Management help? We spoke with Adelheid Schäfer-Terino, the Program Coordinator of the Buddy Program.

Ms. Schäfer-Terino, why is the Heilbronn campus so attractive for international students?

An important basic requirement is that all courses of study at our campus are held entirely in English. This applies not only to the lectures, but also to all communication. A big advantage is certainly that we do not charge tuition fees. The Heilbronn region is home to many global companies that are very interested in getting to know our students and working with them. One advantage of our location, compared with the TUM campus in Munich, is its manageable size. We have more time for personal support. We still know many students by name, and most faces.

What kind of challenges do international students face when they come to Germany to study?

At the beginning they have to organize their whole life here and of course many questions come up. This concerns bureaucratic things like registering with a health insurance company and registering with the city. But the biggest challenge for many people is certainly finding accommodation from a distance. That’s why we want to establish contact between international and German students with our Buddy Program, even before the arrival of the newcomers, in order to help them with these questions.

 

“Our Buddies are ambassadors for Germany.”

How can one imagine the Buddy Program in Heilbronn?

Students from abroad as well as German freshmen should have a German Buddy to help them find their way around in their new environment. Our role model is the Buddy Program in Munich, from which we also receive a lot of support. However, we soon realized that we differ fundamentally in many aspects. Because the number of internationals is so high, we cannot provide one-on-one support. That’s why every Buddy has a group of seven to eight freshmen with us. The program we organize as a university is fixed, which includes a training as a webinar, a welcome event and various activities, such as movie night and pub crawl. But self-design is very important for us: Buddies decide for themselves how to best look after their group.

What should a Buddy bring along?

It is especially important to me that the Buddy is aware that he or she is an ambassador: of the TUM School of Management, but also of the Federal Republic of Germany and German culture. He or she should show a friendly and inviting face of Germany and act with warmth of heart, openness and sensitivity. My wish is that a Buddy is there for his protégé and always gives a little bit more than the other person expects from him. Our German students also learn so much due to the internationality of our campus. Everyone gains intercultural experience. This includes constant communication in English and the development of an international network with future management professionals. But above all, it broadens one’s own horizon. To see one’s own world through someone else’s eyes is an incredible enrichment. I am quite idealistic about this and see it as a small contribution to international understanding: to accept us globally and to understand that everyone contributes something to the big picture with their differences.

 

“In the Heilbronn-Franken area, even in global companies, there is a down-to-earth corporate culture.”

Will some international students stay here and take up a job in Germany?

When I asked the first master’s class at the beginning who would like to stay here after their studies, almost all hands went up. Within a very short time, we had organized a German course in cooperation with the training academy aim, located next door on our Bildungscampus. The students are highly motivated to learn German. And the companies in the region are desperately looking for specialists with exactly this profile: fluent in English and a combination of a natural science or technical subject and business studies. The Welcome Center Heilbronn regularly organizes job cafés where HR professionals and students can get to know each other and support them with application training. As the TUM School of Management Campus Heilbronn, we are in close contact with the job agency (Agentur für Arbeit).

Our region is ideal for internationals in many ways, but there are also challenges. Even though many companies here operate globally, they have a down-to-earth corporate culture. Team meetings are not held in English, but in German. The Swabian culture is also evident in offices. This matter of fact is the driving force for our students to learn the German language. We are confident that the TUM School of Management located in the heart of the region Heilbronn-Franken with its international high potentials will be a great enrichment for the companies operating globally. Searching for highly professional’s diversity is the key for a win-win situation for our students and for the hidden champions in our country. One thing must be said: In our current startup situation the students have a lot of patience and show a lot of gratitude. This is just one point that I have already learned from them and would like to integrate into my everyday life.

The post “To see one’s own world through someone else’s eyes is an incredible enrichment.” appeared first on Technical University of Munich – School of Management.

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