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Charmie Kapashi  <<

Being a student of Interior Architecture, the wide range of architectural sites in Europe, both modern and classic, attracted me the most to go for an exchange to Stuttgart.

Preparation for the stay at Stuttgart was blended with anxiousness and the thrill to live in a whole different world from mine.

But all this nervousness vanished when I reached Stuttgart. In a place where I knew no one, the arrangement of a “Buddy” by the University was a big comfort. Katja Zipfel, my Buddy helped me out with all the administrational tasks like registration at the citizen office, enrolment as a student, the payment of fees, and above all she took me to my room at the Wohnheim (Student Residence).

My sincere gratitude is to Frau Kreis Barbara, Herr Uwe and of course Dr. Michael Geiger who made my life so much simpler by being so kind and humble, always organizing everything for their guests with so much perfection.

My first few days went in settling and getting accustomed to a new “most organized environment” and new climatic conditions. The visit to the TV Tower in Stuttgart with Dr. Geiger on the second day was a wonderful experience since I got to see the entire city at a go and made so many friends from all over the world.

But the most interesting and exciting part were the trips to Heidelberg and Tuebingen organized especially for the international students by the school once a month. Herr Uwe was so much fun there.

The first meeting with my professors was a presentation of the previous works of all the exchange students. It was quite interesting to understand the curriculum of other schools and relate it to our style and working method.

The classes began with Professor Goebel, Head of Department of Interior Architecture Department. Our project was to design a part of an actual office building for the DRF Company. This provided us an opportunity to see how an actual office runs.

The other major project was a class project which was to design and build an actual scale stand for the Cologne International Furniture Fair, where our school was to represent their works.

Due to such a perfect combination of courses, I got an opportunity to not only to learn immensely from the teachers and guides, but got an excellent opportunity to interact with the students. In the process, making some very good friends. My initial misconception of Germans being very cold was broken and the study made us realize that they could be the most humble, helpful and polite people.

The most exciting was the International Project Week held at the beginning of the semester when some professors and students of other Schools joined the entire course with students forming groups to compete for a furniture project. This was the first actual step towards getting to know German culture. The coordination with each other strengthened our bonds.

Finally, the opportunity to attend the Furniture Fair at Cologne was unbeatable. To be able to witness the fair itself was so much to learn.

Being an outsider, which although I didn’t feel at all during my stay, it was my only regret during my stay if the language had not been such a hindrance in so many instances.

Some of my unforgettable moments during my stay here were the coffee breaks with the international students and Herr Uwe; the lunch with Dr. Geiger and the interesting discussions with him about the future; my first time at an opera with Frau Kreis; the parties with very close Italian friends I made there; the trip to Berlin with them, my trips to Barcelona and Italy and so on.

But after all this, my final word is that it feels like I had closed my eyes for five months and was experiencing a beautiful dream filled with learning to an extent that made me grow not only academically but also as a human being. In true words, a splendid experience, absolutely unforgettable.

Nationality: Indian - CEPT University, Ahmedabad - Interior Architecture