Why You Should Choose WHU Otto Beisheim Graduate School of Management
You are about to read the many reasons why you should make WHU Otto Beisheim Graduate School of Management as your exchange university of choice. The university sits in Vallendar, Germany a small quiet town along the Rhine River, in the district of Mayen Koblenz.
It is approximately 1 hour via DB Bahn from the financial hub of Germany, Frankfurt and about 1.5 hour away from Cologne Bonn Airport, which was the airport I frequent the most. I was able to get a variety of flights from Cologne Bonn Airport, Ryan Air, Wizz Air, German Wings, etc. Many of these airlines fly to various parts of Europe which is a major plus point. On top of that, you can get around Europe via train as well. DB Bahn (https://www.bahn.com/i/view/GBR/en/index.shtml) is really reliable for that apart from the occasional labor strikes that can really ruin your travel plans. DB Bahn also offers the IC bus, which ply many routes, mainly within Germany but also into some parts of Eastern Europe.
Personally, I have a generally rule of thumb when it comes to travelling. If it takes more than 3-4 hours via train then use the planes, if you are heading east of Europe, I recommend using the buses due to developing infrastructure, otherwise as long as its cheap, grab it!
Not to mention, there are various offers and promotions that DB Bahn dishes out. It can range from the Bahn Card 25 which gives you 25% off tickets (look out for the trial promotion, which is 3 months for 30 Euros and this will cover you for most of your exchange), or the group tickets where you get discounts when you travel in group of 5s and the Eurorail pass, which I feel is really worth it if you already have a clue on where you would like to visit prior to leaving Singapore. This is due to the fact that you will need to get your pass from STA before departing for exchange.
What I did was that during my first half of exchange, I milked the Eurorail Pass (select) which I got for a discount at 300 Euros. This pass allowed me to travel to 4 countries of choice, granting 10 trips to be used within 2 months. Armed with this pass, I made many trips within Germany and its neighbouring countries. But the key point is that it allowed me to settle in to my apartment to start booking for super cheap flights to other parts of Europe for the later half of my exchange. The earlier you book, the more your cost savings.
Side tip: use GoEuro some times to snag cheap tickets too!
Since you won’t just be traveling, I will now share with you more about the University. WHU offers a wide range of modules you can map back to NUS and from my understanding, it is not as competitive compared to NYU or Mannheim. The university is quite highly regarded in Europe, and it has a great career services support. I have heard of exchange students being placed for internships in Berlin, Hamburg etc, and you will just need to discuss this with the career office.
Therefore, WHU (http://p360.whu.edu/en/vallendar/) is actually a pretty ideal place to apply for. I was able to map 5 Finance modules and Strategic Management when I was on exchange. The great thing about WHU is that they operate on a quarterly system unlike NUS, which is by semesters. Hence, I did 3 modules each quarter and with some luck, I was able to get a 3 day school week for my first quarter and a 1 day work week for my 2nd quarter (some modules are lectured by guest lecturers, so I had a module which is taught over 2 days, 10 hours each, seminar style).
Examination wise, let’s just put it this way, when they teach you how to make scrambled eggs, they will ask you how are scrambled eggs done during the examination and not how to make eggs benedict. You would not have to worry about class participation, as there is more emphasis on the final examination as compared to NUS. With such a great time table, I don’t see a need to be skipping classes just to travel, you just have to plan carefully!
In fact, I really enjoyed my classes in WHU and made it a point to attend every single class. This was partly due to me having asian traits – can’t lose out nor do badly and mess up the module mapping. But overall, I felt that WHU’s teaching methods are comparable to NUS, and at times even better. In my opinion, they do finance courses really well. Do take note that the Germans are very particular about timing, hence when something states 8am, please be there by 7.50am – no one is ever late! The same goes for trains and buses as well. It runs like a clockwork so always make it a point to be early. You snooze, you lose!
Accommodation wise, as exchange students, the school will get you housed in one of the many apartments around Vallendar. It should be just 10-15 minutes walk to school each morning. Personally, I stayed in Hohrer Strasse 34 (https://www.whu.edu/en/campus/campus-vallendar/housing-and-overnight-stays/living-in-vallendar/information-for-international-students/hoehrer-strasse/). It was a very new apartment block and its very popular with exchange students. I took the penthouse, shared with 4 other exchange students and I had a balcony all to myself (you can even host parties and BBQ on the balcony!) and I leave it to your imagination about what else you can do with the space available.
Culturally, the students are really friendly and they have a group of local students that plan orientation activities. They have something called the running dinner, whereby you will wander around the town, searching for your group’s assigned homes to visit. Upon arrival at the home, you will be treated to a meal by the local student hosts while you bring the drinks, it was a really great way to get to know one another and learn more about the school.
There will also be a committee formed among the exchange students to organise activities such as trips to Europark, Cologne for Karnival, Munich for Ocktoberfest and many more. WHU is also known to be the organisers for an (sick) event called the Euromasters (please check out this: https://vimeo.com/156013141), where you play sports in the day and party through the night. Students usually hangout at Korova, a student bar just 3 minutes walk from school and party in Palais, in the next town, Koblenz. There will be parties held on campus as well from time to time, check out your mailbox for an email from the party minister of the school.
The only thing that might deter you is that in Vallendar, there isn’t much you can do except head to the school gym, take a stroll along the River Rhine or travel out. However, what the town have in abundance is 4 supermarkets around the school where you can get your groceries, staples and cheap beers starting from 0.50 Euro or bottled hard liquor from 4.99 Euros.
But to get to enjoy all these exciting stuff, first and foremost, you have to be chosen by NUS Business School. After which, you would have to endure through a series of paper work which can be quite daunting.
Firstly, you have to create a deutsche bank international student blocked account (https://www.deutsche-bank.de/pfb/content/pk-konto-und-karte-international-students.html). This will then allow you to apply for a long term student visa with the German Embassy in Singapore. A word of caution is that the bank account takes about 1-2 months to be ready, following which the visa will require another 2 months to obtain. My advice is to create the bank account once you know you are set for WHU as this gives you more time to ready the documents required for the visa.
Also, please do book your visa appointment ahead of time. Otherwise, you are pretty much in trouble as you would have to obtain the physical visa in Singapore before heading into Germany (there might be a better way to get your permits, but this was what I did).
In addition, please do carry extra Euros. I made the stupid mistake of not bringing extra euros, thinking that I am able to easily unblock my account. However, it takes 3 weeks to receive the bank card and pin! (I found another way to get money though, you can use your passport in place of the bank card) Hence, I suffered for 2 weeks eating mostly currywrusts.
A side note, there won’t be a Deutsche bank branch in Vallendar, and you would have to go to Koblenz to perform your banking. I guess that would be the down side of being in a small town.
I hope through this post, you will be able to make a more informed decision on where to go for your ultimate exchange experience. Cheers!