February 19, 2019 / Department of Mathematics

Tomas Nagy (Univerzita Karlova / Praha): Report on Erasmus stay at the University of Stuttgart

Incoming - International Students at the Department of Mathematics

Translation of Thomas Nagy’s report into English- translated by Elisabeth Schaettgen – Administrative Contact for Erasmus Students Department of Mathematics

I am studying Mathematical Structures at Charles University in Prague and spent the academic year 2017/2018 as Erasmus exchange student at the University of Stuttgart. I lived in the student dormitory Pfaffenhof II and very much liked the campus – the whole campus is surrounded by forests, presenting lots of possibilities for a walk.

When I was looking around for an Erasmus stay, one of the reasons to choose Stuttgart was the Intensive German Course offered by the Department of International Affairs from September on, a perfect possibility to meet other students from abroad, to improve my German and to get used to the life in Stuttgart before the winter term started.

Before coming to Stuttgart, I never had studies Mathematics in German, but I had no problems to understand and to follow the lectures. This is one of the beautiful things mathematics offer: the language of mathematics is so easy and precise, that it may be understood in a foreign language as well.

The biggest difference between studying in Prague and Stuttgart, is how exams are organized – when passing an oral exam in Prague, you get all the questions before and you get your time to prepare (even the proofs). I was not used to answer questions directly in an oral exam (even if they are perhaps not so difficult).

Of course I noted other differences between the university system in the Czech Republik and Germany, but that is the interesting part of an Erasmus exchange. You do not only learn a foreign language and about another culture, you may also learn about different kind of teaching and scientific research.

During mystay in Stuttgart, I also enjoyed exploring the surroundings – I especially liked the Allgäu Alps and the region around the lake of Constance. The mountains near Stuttgart (Schwäbische Alp and Black Forest) reminded me of the mountains at home and in Slovakia, where I grew up. I often remember my trips around Stuttgart.

You often hear about Germans to be rude, but I never had this feeling or experience. On the contrary, when travelling, I often was addressed by Germans asking where I was from or what I liked in Germany, and very often we had interesting conversations. This usually does not happen in the Czech Republik. People never contact you for small talk unless they want to sell you something or ask you for money.

I also remember interesting conversations with my neighbours in the student dormitory – about history, politics, environment, etc. I have the impression that Germans are very interested in topics, being interesting and relevant, but not directly related to the studies or their future career. This also is the case in the Czech Republic, but not so often.

When talking to someone about my Erasmus stay in Stuttgart, I cordially recommend Stuttgart. For students not speaking German at all it is perhaps not suitable, but for me the lectures in German where one of the reasons why I choose Stuttgart.

[Note of the translator: the number of lectures in English is presently increasing]

One last recommendation from my side: An Erasmus stay in Prague is also a very good option for students. The offer of mathematical lectures is even broader, and almost all lectures in MSc Mathematics are given in English – just contact the professor in advance and most of them will teach in English, too.

[Note of the translator: this is also a recommendation for Stuttgart. Just contact the professor and you will see whether the lecture you are interested in may be given in English.]

Thomas Nagy
(Univerzita Karlova / Praha)

  
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