Alexander Smith: Classes in Mannheim



Guten abend, and welcome back to my blog. In this post, I’d like to talk a bit about the classes here at the University of Mannheim, and some similarities and differences between the classes in Germany vs. the United States. For this fall term in Mannheim, I am taking four classes, although only three of them are actually at the university, as I am taking an online class from Drexel called “Crossing the Bridge” which is a Language course designed to help us stay connected with our home country while learning and reflecting upon the new culture we are experiencing. The face-to-face courses I’m taking in Mannheim are Operations Management, Management Information Systems, and a German language Oral Communications course. I had originally planned on also taking an international economics course, as I am a Finance/International Business double major at Drexel, but elected not to so that my workload would be manageable (I’m taking the equivalent of 15 drexel credits instead of 19 or my usual 20).

I learned that it is very good to be flexible with your courses and to make sure you work on your plan of study both before you study abroad as well as during the study abroad term. As a finance major, I was really hoping to be able to begin taking finance courses as I am in my third year at Drexel and finance courses are 300-level courses, but unfortunately Mannheim did not offer an English Intro Finance course. Therefore, I had to adjust my plan of study a bit and take the MIS and OPM courses instead, which are in English and will transfer back to Drexel as some of my general business requirements. I also wasn’t originally planning on a German Language course, but thought that it would be highly beneficial to improve my language skills while I am here.

Something I didn’t know about until the orientation here in Mannheim was that some courses have multiple sessions, not just the lecture. On the university’s online course catalog it will just list the lecture time on the schedule, but in reality there are also Exercise and Tutorial sections for some courses. This would be similar to how a Drexel course might have a Lecture and Recitation, however, some courses such as the Operations Management course I am taking have both the Exercise and Tutorials, which are on different days and times from the lecture. While the Exercise and Tutorial sections are generally optional, it is very beneficial to attend, as the TA’s/graduate assistants teaching them will typically not only help to clarify the lecture material but also go over problem sets which is important for exam preparation. The exam is often the only grade for most courses, so it is important to use the whole semester to prepare for it.

As far as the classes themselves go, they are fairly similar to how many of the Drexel courses I’ve had are. The Operations Management lecture is similar to some of the larger lecture sections I’ve had at Drexel such as Business 101/102, Psych 101; in which the class consists mainly of the professor lecturing from their slides, with very little interaction from the students. In the Exercise and Tutorial classes it is somewhat more interactive, or at least there is more opportunity to ask questions of the instructor, however, even in these sections there isn’t a whole lot of discussion or participation from students.

The MIS class is a little bit different, in that it is a smaller lecture, maybe about 80-90 students or so, whereas the OPM lecture section is well over 300 students. These class sizes are still bigger than Drexel, where many lectures such as Econ or Accounting classes will be around 60 students, and larger lectures maybe 150-200 people. Other than having more students and being less interactive, the classes here are fairly similar to their American equivalents.

I’ve included a picture of the Schönbrunn Palace from my recent weekend visit to Vienna. I’ll talk a bit more about travel in my upcoming posts. Auf wiedersehen!