Currently, these come from France, Namibia, Spain, Thailand, Taiwan, Brazil and Turkey. In addition, nine exchange students from Spain, Poland, Brazil and China have extended their study period in Offenburg by another semester.
We see this as evidence that international students feel supported and looked after at Offenburg University, even in times like these. The extensive commitment and flexibility of the International Center (INT) have certainly played their part in this. During the past two semesters, the INT staff has successfully provided a range of services and support structures to students, even during the pandemic:
International students are kept up to date about new regulations and hygiene requirements that affect them. Staff members are available for personal consultations via e-mail, telephone or, if desired, Zoom meetings. Cancelation of preparatory events, excursions and events was avoided where possible and were instead flexibly adapted according to the respective existing regulations. In some cases, they were held in novel face-to-face formats, for example, in small groups and with appropriate security requirements. If this was not possible, they were offered online. For example, in the summer of 2020, some preparatory events and smaller outdoor excursions could still be held with all participants present. Other INT offerings, such as the German summer language course, were implemented completely online.
There was also arrangements in place for international students who were unable to obtain a visa for Germany in time (due to consulate closures in their home countries) and thus could not be in Offenburg for the start of their studies. The regulations and forms of instruction, especially in the international master's programs, were adapted so that the affected students could already begin their studies from home. Many courses were not only held online, but were also made available as videos, so that students from other time zones were not bound to the respective teaching times.
Even social events, such as the St. Nicholas Event or the World Café, were open online to international students from all over the world. Gift bags with cookies, baked by members of the Senior Service, could be picked up at the university beforehand, as a “sweetener” for the online event in the evening.
In order for the international students on site to get to know the beautiful places of their surroundings despite the pandemic, the Senior Service provided information in an online event about sights and activities in the region that can also be visited or are possible under the current conditions. When the first snow had fallen in the Black Forest, the INT team let students know about possibilities to get to the snowy mountains from Offenburg by the public transport system. Currently, the tutor Marie Dietrich offers a treasure hunt via Instagram, through which the international students can independently get to know different places in Offenburg and Gengenbach.