“Every time you go outside, you discover more”

About the experiences of an in-coming Indian full-time student

 © Aman Swain

Studying more than 8,000 km away from home: it’s certainly not for everyone. For Aman Swain from Pune in India, it was the best decision of his life to date. He came to Germany in the winter semester 2019/20 and tells us how he found his first days here.

Why did you decide to study at FHWS?

Many factors went into my decision to study at FHWS. On the one hand because FHWS offers bachelor's programmes in English which are very broad, practically oriented and forward-looking. The higher education system in Germany is also among the best in the world. In addition, FHWS is known for its international focus. As a result, I knew that I would be studying with people from many different countries, which in turn contributes to me moving in a global environment and therefore also being able to discover many different cultures. This can be beneficial, particularly when working on international projects.

Why did you choose the Logistics degree programme in particular?

Primarily because it is a great opportunity to study in English while living in Germany. The range of bachelor's programmes was quite extensive – Mechatronics, Business and Engineering and Logistics (editor’s note: the Robotics degree programme is also available from winter semester 2020/21, as well as International Management in the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration). I ultimately opted for Logistics because I am particularly interested in this topic. The job prospects in the logistics and supply chain sector are also pretty good. Almost every company has a logistics department in order to keep the company running.

When did you start preparing to apply to FHWS?

It took me around six to seven months to prepare my application. During this time, I gained a basic knowledge of the German language (level A1 and A2) and took the required examinations at the Goethe Institute in Bangalore. At the same time, I also passed the IELTS certificate in order to certify my knowledge of English.

How was your experience in relation to the FHWS application process?

All in all, the application process went very smoothly. The whole process was done online. The required documents had to be scanned in and uploaded to the FHWS Application Portal. If you get stuck on any of the steps of the application, you simply contact FHWS to get support. The application deadline for the winter semester is 15 July the same year. I had uploaded everything by 15 May and had already received a positive response from FHWS on 31 May.

How did your visa process work?

I arranged my visa appointment at the German Embassy in Bangalore on 18 July. In India, it is relatively difficult to get an appointment: in some states, the waiting time can be more than two to three months. As requested by the German Embassy, I gathered all of the documents and sorted them into one stack of the originals and two stacks of copies. We then also had to open a blocked account with a minimum balance of 8,640 euros. (Editor's note: as of 2020, students must now be able to prove a sum of 10,236 euros.) In total, it took five weeks for me to get my visa confirmation.

How did you get from your home country to the FHWS campus?

Once I got my visa, I was able to plan my travel to Germany. The orientation programme was meant to start on 16 September, which is why I decided to travel a few days earlier. The journey took quite a long time and was exhausting. In total, it took me 16 hours to get to Schweinfurt. The twelve-hour flight from Mumbai with a layover in Doha cost around 28,000 rupees (Editor’s note: approx. 300 euros). I had then booked a seat on a Flixbus from Frankfurt airport, which cost me a total of 25 euros with luggage.

How did you find your accommodation?

The only problem in Schweinfurt was the accommodation situation. I searched for accommodation on various accommodation portals and in accommodation groups on Facebook for weeks. There were only a few offers but very high demand for them. What’s more, almost all of the landlords wanted to meet their potential tenants in person first. There is also the option of living in a hall of residence, but the spaces generally fill up pretty quickly. I am currently living in a furnished double room just a five minute walk from the campus.

What was particularly helpful for you in the beginning?

Before the semester started, the FHWS International Office organised a two-week orientation programme. During these two weeks, we were offered support in the topics of enrolment, opening a bank account, health insurance, study support and registration. There were also various presentations about studying at FHWS and generally about living in Germany. It was all interesting, informative and very helpful. Thanks to my early arrival three weeks before lectures started, I also had enough time to explore the city and travel around Germany a bit.

If you can remember: what was your first month at FHWS like?

The first month passed very quickly while we tried to settle into the city. Life changed a lot for me because this is the first time that I have been away from home and my family for so long. I learned a lot in the first month, particularly my time management for my studies and doing the day-to-day household chores. In addition to my studies, there were also a lot of sporting events that the students organised. Anyone could participate in them. Together with other Indians in Schweinfurt, we celebrated a wonderful Diwali (Editor’s note: Indian Festival of Lights). It was a small celebration, but a fantastic one.

Quote Aman Swain: -	“I found friends playing football, on my language courses and in the group work during lectures.“

How does the German education system differ from the system in your home country?

The education system in Germany works completely differently to the system in India. The Indian education system is more theoretical, while more value is placed on applied practice in Germany.

Were you able to make friends with German and international students?

Experiencing another culture can be simultaneously exciting and overwhelming. It is easiest if you put yourself into situations in which you can meet new people. I found friends playing football, on my language courses and in the group work during lectures.

How easily can you understand the professors and the FHWS staff? What level is your knowledge of German at currently?

So far, all of the professors I have met have spoken excellent English and were easy to understand. Within FHWS, you can get by very well with English, but outside FHWS communication problems can easily arise, at the hairdressers or when taking a bus or taxi, for example. I speak German at an A2 level and can have conversations about basic things.

How safe do you feel in Germany in comparison with your home country?

Germany is a very safe country. The crime rate is lower than in most other countries. The rule of law is taken very seriously and followed by the majority of people in Germany. The police are very well-respected in society because they act quickly and thus create a feeling of security.

What is your first impression of Schweinfurt?

Schweinfurt is a very quiet and peaceful city. Although it only takes one hour to get from one side of the city to the other, there is always something new to be found. Every time you go outside, you discover more and more spectacular pathways, alleyways and walkways.

Quote Aman Swain: " I find that Germany has a strange mixture of old and new, with the past and the future apparently existing alongside one another."
Photo of Aman Swain

An interview with 
Aman Swain