29 November 2009

Students' Exchange Handpost

This post is for future Exchange students to ESB(Reutlingen) from SPJIMR. The basic idea is to keep essential information documented on a single platter.

Visa Processing:
It's the first stepping stone for the exchange program. While working in a company all processing headache will be taken care by travel-desk, but as a student we have to do everything on our own. Find visa application details at Mumbai Consulate - Schengen Visa. Applying for Schengen visa as a student one need not furnish all documents as in case of business visa.

The must-have documents are:
  • Passport: [It's obvious :)]
  • Filled VISA form
  • Covering letter from SPJIMR: signed by program co-ordinator.
  • Invitation letter from ESB.
  • Demand Draft for Visa Fee: The amount given in embassy's website will be in EUR, so confirm the exact amount in INR by calling up Embassy.
  • Photographs: Make sure to submit with exact requirement, slight deviation here and there will result in rejection of the application.
  • Medical Insurance Certificate.
  • Flight tickets.

Documents which are good to have. Usually furnished with a business visa application
  • Bank statements: last 6 months, just to provide some sort of proof that you can bear expenses on your own.
  • Form 16 and IT return.

Air tickets:
  • Of all options we chose Emirates for cost, convenience and experience. We got return tickets at 33K INR per head, whereas the price for other major airlines was more than 60K.
  • The most important plus point is that Emirates allows 30 kg of check-in luggage by default for Economy class! A huge cushion especially if you are planning to carry food items from India. Cheaper options like Gulf-Air and Kuwait-Air allow only 20-23 kgs depending on the flight occupancy.

  • We stayed at Kolpinghaus, a private dorm in downtown of Reutlingen. It was booked in advance by our university coordinator Heike Trost.
  • The rates are very affordable price especially as per European standards. It was 200 EUR per month for triple sharing and 250 EUR per month for double sharing.
  • However, due to some miscommunication we ended up paying extra amount 2.4 EUR per day for breakfast. Since we were used to having complimentary breakfast while staying aboard, so we assumed that breakfast at Kolpinghaus is also complementary.
  • Better option is to have fresh bread, corn flakes and milk bought from grocery stores and it will definitely work out cheaper.
  • Other point is to keep in mind for people who have already stayed abroad is that the stay won't be as convenient as your biz-trip accommodations, as the facilities such as toilets, kitchens will be shared like any other general dormitory.

Going to university:
  • The best and the only means to travel to University is city-bus. Going for the first time from Kolpinghauz is quite challenging for a person who is new to the city. Luckily for us, Jonathan (one of the staff of Kolpinghaus) accompanied us for the first day.
  • From Kolpinghauz one has to walk upto Bismarkstr stop in front of Unal bakery. From there take either Bus #8 or #11 to Stadtmitte(central bus stand) and from Stadtmitte to the university by bus to the destination 'Houbuch'. There’s no number for this bus, it's code is ‘H’, not sure what exactly ‘H’ stand for.

Naldo Pass:
  • It's a student transport pass for entire semester which can be bought at a convenience store in Stadtmitte for 53.7 EUR.
  • Definitely a must have pass to avoid paying for tickets everyday. If you make frequent visits to university the break-even can be easily attained. The same pass can also be used to travel by trains (RB or RE) to nearby cities Metzingen or Tübingen.

Grocery stores:
  • The places where we bought grocery items were Asian Stores at Stadmitte, Penny Markt near University, Unal near Bismarkstr and Aldi Süd. Unal was convenient w.r.t distance but was expensive.
  • The major commodity which we used to buy was rice ( Basmati rice to be pricise). It was 2.49 EUR/kg at Unal, 2.2 EUR/kg Asian stores and at Penny Markt it was 1.79/kg. Though the brands were different but saving a few cents per kg mean a lot.
  • The route to Aldi stores was bit complicated. We visited there once before leaving just to buy chocolates. Artem(friend from Ukraine) helped us in finding the route.

Mobile connection:
  • A must-have utility for comfortable stay especially while traveling. Life without it is virtually being like a handicap.
  • We opted for T-mobile connection, 15 EUR for new a connection with 10 EUR free-talktime. Call rates were 0.05 EUR/min within T-mobile network. So make sure that everyone in your group opt for the same connection.

These are just a few important things, for any other queries do post comments.

A few important locations, including retail stores are pin-pointed in the embedded google map.

View Reutlingen in a larger map

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