This week has been so eventful that it probably should have been broken into a number of posts. Sorry in advance for its sheer length.
My week began on Monday with a short speech by the Master of Finance (MoF) director, Dr. Julia Knobbe. Her speech, as with the many others she gave throughout the week was well spoken and inspirational. Among the key points was a celebration to the great diversity within the MoF program with 30 nationalities enrolled and at least one representative from each continent. She also shared with us the Frankfurt School’s ambitious goal to rise from the Financial Times ranking of number 20 to top 5 by the year 2020. It is good to hear a school reaching towards the same ambition and success that is often encouraged of its students.
After the speech, we all loaded onto busses and headed towards Westerwald for our outdoor campus. There we engaged in a variety of leadership and teamwork building exercises that challenged creativity and cooperation. By the end of the two days, after trusting each other to make the right decisions, (literally) carry us over obstacles, and a fair bit of partying, it’s safe to say that we all felt very comfortable with each other. Mission accomplished Faszinatour.
The rest of the week was notably less fun, arguably more important and infinitely more informative. Wednesday consisted of a series of lectures refreshing us to the format of the next two years, expectations of the students and a bit of paperwork.
That evening, the Frankfurt School hosted an involvement fair with all sorts of student initiatives in attendance. Even though the Frankfurt School is a private business university, they still have all sorts of clubs and sports that suit a variety of interests. Some examples include soccer and cheerleading teams, chess club, debate team and charity organizations. I signed myself up for the public speaking/debate club because even though I am good at it already, I realized that there is much room for improvement after judging the public speaking competition for the Future Business Leaders of America competition last May. There were high schoolers there that could give Steve Jobs a run for his money and made my skills look like child’s play.
After the student initiatives fair, my new friend Elisa and I went out to find an authentic Italian restaurant. There turned out to be a great pizza place down the street from the school that earned her Italian stamp of approval. There we spent hours talking about our lives back home and we discovered that a small town is a small town regardless of what country it’s in.
Thursday consisted of a variety of campus and technology tours. We learned about the special rooftop terrace (which I’m sure will be one of my favorite places on campus if it’s ever free), the study room in the basement aptly named The Dungeon, and how a student dropped his wallet in schools courtyard pond.
Thursday was also geared towards international students. They explained to us the strict requirements surrounding our ability to work, helped us sign up for health insurance and got us started on the long and tiring process of registering our address and gaining residence permits. This entire process, even though I got a head start on it is going to be very stressful and I will definitely be writing a guide for it later.
Thursday night there was a Bahnhofsviertel (Train Station District) party. Basically the entire section of the city near the train station was closed and the streets were packed with people, alcohol, music and good conversation. These types of festivals are pretty common in Germany as the locals love any chance they can get to stand around and talk with a beer.
After quite the week of learning, networking, making friends, and partying, it was finally time for orientation week to draw to a close. After a great introduction to our schools Bloomberg terminals, it was time for our opening ceremony; the official start to our academic journeys at the Frankfurt School. Our speaker for the night was the Principal Adviser of Communications at the European Central Bank as well as a visiting professor from the College of Europe, Gabriel Glöcker. He gave an inspiring speech with many tidbits of wisdom from lessons he’d learned along his career.
Afterwards, there was a party at the school with food and beer and wine. This lasted for several hours until the catering staff started to give everyone looks. A great majority of the students picked up and moved to the river to continue their evening of drinks, talks and laughter.
Saturday was an interesting day to say the least. My entire afternoon consisted of doing absolutely nothing at home without electricity, waiting for the repairman to show up. Turns out that our stove had a burner that had gone bad which was tripping the breaker whenever anyone tried to use anything near the stove. After the repairman fixed the problem (by nonchalantly cutting the wire to the bad burner and leaving it like that until the weekdays to come back and actually fix it), I went into town to do some errands and stumbled upon a farmers market. If you ever make it to Germany in the summer, you have to try their strawberries; they’re like a national treasure and better than anything you can get in an American supermarket.
My Sunday consisted of eating a beautifully assembled salami and cheese sandwich, writing on my blog, and reading by the river. It was a very relaxing day and I am definitely getting used to the lazy Sunday routine of Germany. It will also be great going forward since my classes are Wednesday through Saturday. I will be forced to relax on Sunday after the previous week of grueling classes.
Since classes don’t start until Wednesday, a group of friends from the Thursday block of classes has decided to go to the zoo on Tuesday. We figure that it will be more fun to do it now before the responsibilities of the semester set in. Other than that, I am going to try and get into a residency appointment earlier this week instead of waiting until my scheduled appointment next week. This is the first step to everything legal that still needs done and I have been stuck for over a week now waiting for my appointment.
I start my German course on Wednesday and I’m a bit worried about the level I have been placed in. I won’t worry about until I actually get to the class and can see for myself the level of my peers and the expectations for the semester. I have all but my economics class next week so I should also have a fair understanding of my course load and if I will want/be able to waive any of my classes using my bachelors credits. I have a feeling that there will be at least one I will waive and the extra time will be much appreciated.
Let me know if there are any aspects of German or American life that you would like an article on. I have many subjects floating around my head right now but it would be great to hear what all you would like to hear about.