Source: in.Stuttgart / Fotograf
By: Mona El Ghadouini
At the moment, you may be wondering: Does a semester abroad even make sense for me at the moment? The USA, Canada, Australia are what comes to mind when thinking about a stay abroad. In times of COVID-19, those options are not possible – or, considering the status of the pandemic there, not wise or safe. So what now? Just not go? I say no. An amazing semester abroad does not have to be halfway across the world in New Zealand or South Korea – it can also happen just 10 hours south, in Germany. Now, before you laugh and click away, why is it that you have not considered Germany? Is it too close? Too “boring”?
Well, I am here to get rid of those misconceptions. I am a student at Hochschule der Medien Stuttgart – HdM for short – one of the most prestigious media universities in Germany. Where is Stuttgart, though? You may know Hamburg, Berlin, Munich, but haven’t heard of Stuttgart. Stuttgart is at the heart of the southwest of Germany and home to the headquarters of global companies like Porsche, Daimler (Mercedes) and Bosch. We lovingly call it “The Cauldron” because it’s nestled into a valley surrounded by woods, vineyards and quite a few nice sights like Solitude Castle or the TV Tower.
The international minor at HdM is called “Journalism and Communication Management”, which means it’s suited for both communication students and journalism students from DMJX. The minor offers you courses that are valuable for both journalists and communicators and you get to learn something about “the other side” as well!
You will take these courses:
- Content Management
- International Content Production
- Innovation Management
- Corporate Communications
- And a voluntary German course
The courses are taught in small classes similar to DMJX. There is a healthy mix of group work and individual work where you get to work on real life cases with actual customers and corporations. For example, in International Content Production, the class took over the Instagram account of the biggest newspaper in the state! You also have each class every week on a set day, giving you more variety in your studies and the opportunity to use what you’re learning in one course directly in the other! Your groups are a mix of international and German students, giving you the opportunity to properly dive into a new culture and make some international friends 😊
If you’re interested in joining a student initiative, take your pick. Want to make TV? StuFe, the student television, is the thing for you with its professional studio. Radio or podcasts? Horads, the city-wide student radio broadcaster, has its headquarters and studio at HdM. Are you more into writing? Then our magazine Vielseitig is right for you. Or if you want to get engaged on an environmental level, or learn more about PR, or be a part of impro theatre, HdM offers you a wide range of initiatives to join.
For those of you, who are not fans of written exams – don’t worry. There are no written exams in this minor. The summer term starts in mid-March and finishes in July, the winter term starts in early October and finishes in January. Your projects and assignments are due in the last three weeks of each term.
Some nice extras about HdM:
- The pizza and burrito place just five minutes away from the school with student discounts
- The forest right on the doorstep for a lunch break walk (and the small castle – Bärenschlössle – hidden inside the forest!)
- The piano in the main building where you can often hear people playing
- The Learner’s Lab, our big group working space, with its flipboards, whiteboards and wheelie-monitors
- The edit.Lab, JCM’s newsroom, with its top notch tech and software, group working booths, and a soundproof audio cabin
“That sounds fine and all, but what are you going to do outside of class?” Well, I’m glad that you asked! Stuttgart has a rich culture – museums, galleries, festivals, Christmas markets, or big thrift shop sales. There won’t be a weekend without an event! If you like to eat out, you will find a huge selection of restaurants to choose from, with cuisines from all over the world, and a lot more affordable than you might find in Denmark 😉 Whether it’s amazing burgers at Hans im Glück or delicious sushi at Keyaki, there is no way that you won’t find something you like in Stuttgart.
The city also boasts a big number of universities and higher education schools, so there is a rich student life. In summer, the big dormitories host their annual festivals – so get ready to have an amazing open-air club every week in June! In winter, the Christmas markets in Stuttgart, Ludwigsburg and Esslingen capture the Jul Magic perfectly. Enjoy some Glühwein and Baumkuchen from the booths, or jump on the ice skating rink for a few rounds!
Because Stuttgart is surrounded by vineyards, we have some great local wines as well, that you get the chance to taste at the annual “Weindorf”. All the winemakers will offer their wines at their booths, so grab a glass, grab your friends and go for it!
In July, the city hosts the “Volkswagen Lichterfest” where you can go up to the Killesberg, for example, and see the tower erupt in lights and fireworks.
And, of course, the event that Stuttgart is perhaps most known for: Cannstatter Wasen. You’ve probably heard of Oktoberfest in Munich, the biggest of its kind in Germany. Well, Stuttgart has the second biggest – and twice a year. So it doesn’t matter if you come here summer or winter, the Wasen will be there. You can go on various amusement park rides, or head to the “beer tents” and enjoy some pints with your friends and classmates!
Here is the great news: if you are from Aarhus or Copenhagen, you will love the prices in Stuttgart. Housing, which you can get in a dorm or in a private collective, is much cheaper. In the Filderbahnplatz dorm, where most Internationals get to live, you pay roughly 2.300 Kroner for a fully furnished room, all expenses included.
Groceries, eating out, and public transport are also way more affordable. So not only do you get to have a great time, you also get to save a bunch of money as you do it.
Located in the southwest, Stuttgart is only a few hours away from France, Switzerland, Austria and Italy. Want to pop over to Strasbourg for a weekend? One hour. To Vienna? Takes you one hour and ten euro on the plane. Maybe a road-trip to the Netherlands? Make a stop along Cologne on your way there! Or if you don’t want to leave the country? You’re in luck. Germany can offer you a super diverse landscape with the alpine mountainside and waterfalls in the south, beaches and sea in the north, and beautiful forests and castles all over the country. So no matter if you’re a hiking, beach or urban vacationer, you will find lots and lots to see and explore in Germany. You don’t only have picturesque spots in New Zealand or Canada – Germany has them too!
Or, as the Deutsche Bahn put it in their campaign:
Stuttgart itself offers lots of picture- and sightseeing locations too: check out Solitude Castle, Schlossplatz, the baroque castle in Ludwigsburg, or the picturesque city library. Enjoy the best look across the entire city from the TV Tower (the first in the world!) or take a walk through the Rosenstein park and watch the snow leopards and ice bears in the zoo without having to pay an entrance fee. As for the weather, Stuttgart is lucky to have snow in winter, and hot temperatures in summer! In summer, there’s always people flocking to the lakes in and around the city, so make sure to pack a swimsuit if you go in summer. (And make sure to pack a scarf and hat if you go in winter, it gets pretty cold.)
So why go?
- You get to make many international friends (HdM has 126 partner universities all over the world)
- You get to work practically in an international environment
- You learn about both journalism and communication, disciplines that work hand in hand
- You gain a broader understanding of your industry
- You get projects and work samples to add to your portfolio (good to apply for your internships!)
- And you get to dive into a new culture! 😊