Guten Morgen! Let us introduce ourselves. We are Antonio and Nicklas, two final year Civil Engineering students from Bath, currently starting our ERASMUS exchange at the Technische Universität München (TUM) in Munich.
While we were originally planning on going to UEM in Madrid, due to some administrative issues, this was not an option in the end. The choice of Madrid was mainly because of the city. However, looking back, Munich is definitely the right choice, taking both the city and the academic reputation of the university into account.
So why go on ERASMUS? As we both come from outside the UK, we were both keen to go explore university life abroad somewhere else. Being on a 4-year master program, we don’t have the opportunity to do a masters somewhere else. ERASMUS provides the opportunity of doing that. It is also a great opportunity to meet students from all over the world and to learn a new language! If you aren’t willing to throw yourself out there in a new culture and place, we certainly wouldn’t recommend ERASMUS!
About Munich and TUM
Munich is the 3rd largest city in Germany. Located in the south eastern part, it is only train ride away from Austria. The city has a rich history which we are not going repeat here (see Wikipedia) but we will definitely tell you about some of the many attractions and museums we will be visiting. Otherwise the city is of course known for its beer and fun fact, TUM is actually the only university in the world with its own brewery!
TUM was founded in 1868 and specializes in Engineering, natural sciences and life sciences. It is currently top 50 in the world and has been advancing steadily in the rankings. It is located across 4 campuses in Munich with the department of Civil, Environmental and Geo Engineering located at the central campus. The university currently has 13 Nobel laureates and has been home to the inventors of the fridge, diesel engine and the first jet-powered aircraft.
Panorama view of Munich city center
If you thought finding accommodation in Bath, wait until you get to Munich! The university itself acknowledges the struggle and does not guarantee accommodation. We eventually found ours on AirBnB after trawling through lots of German rental sites. We did however leave the house hunting a bit late and only started looking in August. We highly recommend starting to look in May-June and to not underestimate the task. We have heard that there are still students looking for a permanent place.
Our accommodation is a cosy four bedroom flat located in a nice area of Munich just south of the centre right next to the Poccistrasse tube stop. We are sharing with two German students. We have everything we need in walking distance including several supermarkets, bakeries, restaurants & bars, and a laundromat. For reference, we are paying just over 700 EUR each (including all utilities and internet). University accommodation is a lot cheaper but as it is the most expensive city in Germany and because of the housing shortage, this is a realistic price if you want to live close to town. On the plus side food and other living amnesties (especially beer!) are cheaper than the UK.
Practical stuff on arrival
There are a few practical tasks to be completed upon arriving in Munich. First of all, you need to register with the local authorities in a Bürgerburo. This is a simple task that requires both you and your landlord to fill out separate forms. With these forms and a valid passport, you will need to go to one of the registration centres dotted around the city. Don’t worry, there is plenty of information about this on TUM’s website and during the induction talks. There are even volunteers that offer to take you there if you are feeling really uncomfortable with it. Queues at the centres are extraordinary so we would advise arriving at least half an hour before they open. Our local centre opened at 7.30 in the morning but at 6.50, there were already 40 people waiting outside and by the time the doors opened, there were over 200! You will need the confirmation of registration to open a bank account which you can do for free with most of the German banks. While you can get by without a German account, it is need for any subscription services such as gym memberships, phone contracts and internet.
The main campus where our department is located
Choosing modules and induction
The great thing about TUM is that you get to choose all of your modules! Don’t worry about getting your subject list spot on when filling in your learning agreement as you get to choose again once you are registered at the university. While most of the courses are in German, there are over 150 courses available in English so there is the opportunity of studying something you wouldn’t have gotten to do at Bath. You have to register to each of the modules online and some courses have a participation limit so don’t leave this too late!
The system is not very intuitive but it works and the professors are all very keen to answer questions so e-mail them if in doubt.
Otherwise the first two weeks have been induction focussed. Theuniversity has organized events and trips every day. The events cover everything related to settling in, living in Germany and studying at TUM. The trips range from city tours all the way to day trips to Nuremburg.
The university seems incredibly welcoming to its exchange students with over 1000 inbound this year. They will continue to organise weekly events and trips throughout the year and also offer plenty of language courses. Everyone speaks very good English so don’t be afraid to come here if you don’t speak a word of German! (Antonio doesn’t!)
The social side of Munich
So far, the biggest social event has of course been the Oktoberfest! The Oktoberfest is an annual celebration of the greatness of beer and has its roots back in 1810 as a wedding celebration. The festival itself is located in the Theresienwiese in the centre and is a huge fairground with the main focus being the large beer “tents” (more like halls). If you are not into beer, there are plenty of rides, food stands and a good familial atmosphere. It is an event for the whole family. The beers do not mess about and come in the famous 1l mass glasses from one of the main five breweries in the city. A evening in one of the tents is quite an experience (for you and your wallet) but should be on everyone’s bucket list. Definitely worth the hangover. Be prepared to dance on the tables and speak & sing more German than you knew you could! Prost!
Other social activities have been at a minimum so far as admin tasks have taken priority so stay tuned! Though we have had time to explore the beautiful city centre and sample some of the local food which we will talk more about in our next post.
Augustinerbräu tent - Oktoberfest
Matthew, Nick, Antonio - representing Bath at Oktoberfest
In general, the Munich’s transportation network is very efficient and reliable (clearly not by the same companies as in Bath!) so there are plenty of ways to get around. The network consists of the U-bahn (tube), S-bahn (city train), regional trains, trams and buses so its allowed to be picky. Otherwise traffic is light and Munich is cycle friendly so walking and cycling are great ways to get around too. As part of your registration fee, you get to use your TUM student cards as a valid ticket on the whole network in a 30km radius. This is valid from 6pm to 6am on weekdays and all day weekends & bank holidays. To upgrade to a 24/7 pass costs 189 EUR for the semester and can be done at any U-bahn station.
We live about 35 minutes walking away from the main campus. To get the most out of our time here, we have chosen to buy bikes. They are easy to find and can be bought in decent quality at any flea market for as little as 50 EUR.
Our route to campus!
One thing to keep in mind with Munich is that semester dates are slightly dissimilar to Bath. Courses start mid-October with the previous two weeks being induction. They run until the first week of February so they actually overlap with the start of second semester in Bath. Therefore, it is uncertain how and where we will take our exams as these usually taken in March. Agreements will have to be made with each professor individually but the university has been very supportive and will do the organizing for us.
This has been all for now. Tschüss!