Here are some tips and thoughts for an exchange period in Esslingen.
-The student ticket for the Stuttgart area local traffic (www.vvs.de) costs about 190€ per semester. I didn’t buy this ticket because I’m used to cycling and I bought a bike not to have my timetables fixed to when buses go. With the student card you also get to travel for free after 6pm on weekdays and all day on weekends. It took about one week before we could get our student cards when we exchange students came to Esslingen. There’s a student card called ISIC that Kilroy travels sells in Finland which some Mexicans had. This card was also accepted in the local traffic and they could travel for free on evenings and weekends with it.
-Buy a bike, they are really cheap. I bought a custom made bike from used parts for 60€. Many friends bought bikes for 25-40€. It’s useful to have one
-Travelling by train is cheaper when you use slow RE trains and group tickets. Eg. I’ve travelled to Frankrfurt and back for 8€ with “Schönes Wochenende Ticket”. “Baden-Württemberg Ticket” is also a cheap way of travelling. And renting a car is also not too expensive.
-The easiest way to Esslingen from the airport is bus 122. To the dorms at Geschwister-Scholl-Strasse you can get with at least bus 111 and 112. The bus stop is called Sankt Bernhard/Eugen Bolz Strasse. There are also other buses, like 108, but it’s a bit more complicated with those
-The teachers will say that you don’t need to register for any courses. However you should double check this because I wasn’t allowed to take part in a course when I hadn’t registered in advance for it. Also choose one or two courses more than the minimum needed credits, because some courses might be cancelled.
-Norma, Aldi and Lidl are the cheapest stores. However they are a bit difficult to reach from the dorms. I used to go to Rewe because it was at the bus station and had a good assortment. Sometimes also to Penny next to the university. Edeka is also not too bad, and it’s not too far away from the dorms. One way is to take bus 110 up from the city on the way home and then after shopping walk down the hill to the dorms.
-Some attractions in Stuttgart: Zahnradbahn, Fernsehturm, Markthalle, the art museum. Other places not too far away: Hohenzollern castle, Ritter-Sport, Schwäbische Alb with lots of castles and beautiful nature, Bodensee/Lake Constance, the Alps in the south (eg. Garmisch-Partenkirchen) and Strasbourg. I also liked Würzburg a lot, they have lots of impressive churches, a huge castle with amazingly decorated rooms, the enormous residence of the bishop and famous white wines like Juliusspital.
-You should also try Hefe-Weizen and Radler beer, even if you don’t normally like beer. It’s not at all like the stuff we are used to in Finland Bananaweizen is also an interesting thing to try.