Cristina Ruiz Moreno
University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
ERASMUS in Stuttgart
If someone asks me about my Erasmus experience in the Hochschule der Medien - Stuttgart, I couldnt be more happy to talk about it.
1. arrival: first days and impressions:
2nd March - I came for the first time to Germany and I have to confess that I was kind of afraid about it. This has been my first experience abroad being relatively far from home and I did not know what was going to happen within the next months.
One thing I really appreciated about HdM is this "buddy network" of HdMs students who offer themselves as volunteers to introduce the university, the campus and the city of Stuttgart to the newcomers as well as help them with bureaucracy stuff. Getting used to my new town and lifestyle was much more easy thanks to Pablo, my buddy.
Although the lectures did not start until the 16th March, I came two weeks before to do the so-called "welcome weeks". It was basically a couple weeks when I had time to meet the other internationals, arrange bureaucracy stuff, purchase train ticket, get used to my new 6-dorm-WG and, of course, know Stuttgarts best clubs for partying.
It is true that the first days were kind of hard to me and I suppose it was the same for all the other internationals, but getting used to Filderbahnplatz and Möhringen did not take as long as I expected.
- Kaufland was the supermarket where I bought almost everything I needed to survive. It was like a second home to me and was right next to my WG in Filderbahnplatz, and the U-Bahn station as well.
- The public transport network here in Stuttgart amazed me. I was only 15 minutes far away from the university campus/ city center taking the U-Bahn and the S-Bahn. Málaga, which is a city in Spain that can be compared with Stuttgart because they have similar number of inhabitants, only has buses to connect different parts of the city and it takes long time to arrive to your destination.
- But one place I will miss so bad is Riedsee: the fields right next to my student dorm, where I used to go jogging in order to avoid getting fat and to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It felt so good being in a big city but at the same time having some peaceful and natural place to enjoy the views and breath pure air, that I do not think I will find something similar back home.
It is difficult for me to "rate" german people because I spent most of my time in Stuttgart with internationals. I really like german politeness. In my opinion, germans are really well educated people and I felt identified with them as long as they are surprisingly efficient doing their work and they work really hard in order to do their best and achieve their goals.
But I could feel the differences between german and spanish people. Germans in general avoid physical contact like kissing on the cheeks, they do not speak or make noises at all while using public transport; and they are quite shy compared to south europeans or latin people. I did not do it on purpose, but afterwards I realized I had missed my country in that way because most of the good friends I made in Stuttgart come from countries where people are more "warm": Spain [David, Oihane, Jorge, María, Josemi], Italy [Tonia], Croatia [Kristina], Mexico [Ive, Ana], Turkey [Melis], Venezuela [Aitana], India [Vignesh, Shams], Brazil [Ravy] and so on.
2. THE "hochschule der medien":
I was truly impressed by how professional and modern my host university looked like. Well, it is not only that it looked professional but that it was a full-equipped place with talented and hard-working people teaching and studying in there. Since I come from a faculty with less resources and my studies are theoretical instead of practical, I was amazed like a child when most of my classes took place at the HdMs own theater, when I realized that they had their own radio and TV/photography studios or that they used professional RED ONE cameras to shot videos.
I was studying a regular english taught course called "Audiovisual Media" and my lectures were: Film history I & II, Introduction to media analysis & history, VFX class, Studio production and a german course [level B2.1].
- Mr. Lowry, who always had a smile on his face and tons of patience listening students presentations, taught us a lot about Hollywood and the Star System. I really liked the subjects he taught even if sometimes it was really hard to keep myself awake at his 3-hours lectures starting at 8:15 am in the morning. In "Film history I" & "Film history II" I did for first time such long presentations in English. Even thought my english was not perfect, I felt really proud of my work. I have improved my english skills during these months abroad.
- At VFX class I had the opportunity to learn how to manage "Nuke", the software that professionals use for VFXs in films. But furthermore, I really admired my teacher Andreas. He was once an HdM student and had been working for well-known companies like "Industrial, Light and Magic" until he felt overwhelmed by such amount of work and deadlines. His personal experience not only served me as an advice on how to deal with work in the future, but it turned human and warm such technical lectures
- Studio production was kind of an opportunity for me to do something different from what I am used to. Since it is a huge subject I was enrolled in a theater project to take the play "Feuersee Zero Hour" to FEATS Festival in Hamburg and to Theaterhaus in Stuttgart. The script was written in german and english by my teacher Mr. Marlow and my role in the crew was "production manager". I had to organize meetings, keep all the members in touch with the others, book the hostel for our trip to Hamburg and so on. Of course, I travelled to Hamburg to help in whatever I was required with. I remind it as a nice experience despite of the trains strike that almost leaves us at home. Furthermore, I was also specially surprised to know that HdM has a budget for exchange students in order to pay expenses for the trips we make regarding HdMs projects. So I had no need to spend my own money for that. I have to say it was always a pleasure to deal with german effectiveness.
- The german course helped me to keep in touch with german language since the university lectures were in english and most of my international friends did not speak german at all. The lectures were kind of recreational and we had "viel Spaß" while learning. Thanks to this course I was able to pass my official german exam at the EOI back home and I obtained a B2 level. Specially good was my oral exam mark, so it proves that train and speak a language helps you to improve your skills significantly.
3. my life in stuttgart:
I have never been a party animal but this semester abroad has been crazy for me. I will specially miss "kitchen parties". Since we had no living room in our WGs, kitchen was our place to meet and party. This is something that only people who live or have been living in Filderbahnplatz will understand. Unfortunately, the Erasmus stereotype about partying can not be denied this time.
As a good exchange student I have been traveling around Germany during this semester. I visited cities like Heidelberg, Ulm, Bamberg, Nürnberg, Hamburg, Berlin [of course!] and Konstanz, with its beautiful lake Bodensee in the borderline with Switzerland.
Specially nice was the experience I had with some internationals and Andrea. She was one of the buddies and became a good friend after she took us to her home in Rentweinsdorf, a little village in the region of Franconia, Bayern. We spent Easter holidays with her lovely and warm family and I had the opportunity to taste "Franken" wines and eat some typical and tasty german food like "Sauerkraut".
But not everything was partying and travel. Here in Germany I got my first job as helper for Primark. Even if it was only a couple days, it was enough to help me find out how things work and to practice what I call the "real German": the language spoken on the street - fast and sometimes incomprehensible. The clear and noise-free "Hörentest" I had to listen to in german language lectures is nothing compared with that. As the semester went on the first "closing parties" came and I could enjoy the work my colleagues did during the semester at the "MediaNight". There I could proudly print my own "Irgendwas mit Medien" bag in order to feel like a fully integrated HdM student.
Back home my faculty is located next to Barcelonas main train station and there is no place left for grass, chill or campus. Just one old grey building situated right in the middle of an urban chaos. That is why I enjoyed so much Vaihingen campus, the people there, the sun the days it shone and the parties that took place like Straussi or Almandrig. They remind me the typical parties everyone can see in american movies and I felt like being in one of them.
4. DEPARTURE: LAST days and impressions:
I had lots of doubts about sharing flat with other five more persons. This could be crazy if something did not work properly. I know some friends who had troubles with their flatmates and coexist was a nightmare. Thanks God, I was blessed with such a nice flatmates who helped me on my firsts days and who became like a family for me in this place. We had dinner together, we had fun, we shared our experiences, we ate a lot, we helped each other, I invaded their rooms to talk with them until late night... even if sometimes the WG wasnt as cleaned as it would be desirable I really can not express how much I will miss them and the little moments of happiness I had there when I am gone. Listen to the others is also a way of learning and one learns a lot about other cultures and ways of living just by sharing some moments in the kitchen cooking together. I definitely will never forget Kurdo (Kurdistan), Vignesh (India), Oihane (Spain), Shams (India), Hamdi (Tunisia), Fermín (Mexico) and Fran (Spain).
This semester abroad has been something new for me: stressless and full of enjoyable moments. I did not regret about the decision I took coming here. It was a positive choice but furthermore, I had time to think about what I like and what I do not like, what I want to do in the future, how I will continue my studies and how I will focus my professional career. To sum up, I had enough time to forget about other issues that always distract and worry me to focus on knowing myself better.
I would like to finish this report saying a big "Thank you!": to all the people who welcomed me/ helped me during my time in Stuttgart [International Office/ Sue: I am really sorry for bother you all with so many E-mails, but you are worth it!] and to all the people I met there and made this semester abroad such a really nice experience. I had the time of my life.
There is a portuguese word I learned from a friend. This term can not be exactly translated into English, German or Spanish and describes perfectly how I feel right now about this time abroad in Stuttgart: "Saudade". It describes a deep emotional state of nostalgic or profound melancholic longing for an absent something or someone that one loves.
It is also described as "the love that remains" after someone is gone. Saudade is the recollection of feelings, experiences, places or events that once brought excitement, pleasure, well-being, which now triggers the senses and makes one live again. [...] It brings sad and happy feelings all together, sadness for missing and happiness for having experienced the feeling.