The beautiful and historic town of Esslingen nestled in between vineyard-clad hills and along the Neckar river, will host students during their year abroad. Esslingen is located approximately six miles outside of Stuttgart, the capital of the German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, which is full of cultural amenities and hosts a plethora of German festivals year-round. Transportation is made easy by the VVS, the Stuttgart metro train system, including S-Bahn, U-Bahn and regional trains, which allows for ease of access to anywhere that students would like to go around Stuttgart and beyond.
The first half of students’ study abroad in Germany, the equivalent of the students’ second semester of their junior year, will be spent studying at the Hochschule Esslingen University of Applied Sciences located in Esslingen, Germany. The University of Alabama and the Hochschule Esslingen signed an exchange agreement on Sept. 15, 2014, and courses taken at the Hochschule Esslingen will be credited towards a bachelor’s degree at UA. The Hochschule Esslingen warmly welcomes UA exchange students, ensuring not only that their needs are met and their documents in order, but also that they have a true German experience. Students will be walked through the German student visa process within the first week of arrival making sure all required documentation is in order.
At the beginning of the exchange program is a one-month acclimation period, where students will take immersive German language and culture courses and will participate in excursions to near-by historical cities and landmarks. Students will then complete their courses at the Hochschule Esslingen, like during a regular semester at UA. The German coursework and curriculum requires students to be highly motivated and independent. There is a single final exam for each course, which will count as the entire semester grade. Although the course credits transfer with a 2:1 ratio, UA academic policy does not allow a transfer of the grades.
All students at the Universities of Applied Sciences are required to do an internship semester in industry as part of the curriculum. UA students will also participate in such an internship in their fall semester of study abroad from August to December. Like with the German students, UA students will be required to take the initiative and apply for suitable positions, which suit their major and interests. This process is similar to acquiring a coop position while in Tuscaloosa/Alabama.
Students will be working alongside top engineers on innovative projects, technologies and methods in a highly technical and multicultural work environment. In their departments students will have a glimpse into the present and future of the automotive industry and will have the opportunity to network and make key connections within the company or one of its’ suppliers.