Which college is good for engineering

At a glance

Full name of the host university:Union College
City Country: Schenectady (N.Y.), USA
Homepage of the host university: www.union.edu
Author of the field report:
Course of study at the FH Aachen: Mechanical engineering, department 8
Start and end of the stay abroad: 28.03. – 11.06.2011
The semester abroad was carried out in: 6th semester


Students of Faculty 8 who are interested in an exchange semester at Union College and have questions for the author of this field report are allowed to contact him by email. The contact details can be obtained from Ms. G. Jacobi, Goethestrasse 1, room 00413.


Quality of the course content:1,0
Study conditions / equipment of the host university:1,0
On-site support and help:1,0
Transport links to the campus:1,3
Food on campus (cafeteria, etc.): 1,3
Sport possibilities:1,0
Leisure offers:1,0
Bars / Discos / Nightlife:1,3
Housing quality / costs:1,3
Contact with locals:1,3


  • When did you start the preparations? At the beginning of the previous winter semester.
  • How does the registration process work and which documents are required? The AAA made a pre-selection with regard to the limited, free places, application with an overview of grades, letter of motivation and curriculum vitae (in English) and application forms from the AAA. Extensive documents are required for the visa (USA stop).
  • Does the host university require a language test? Yes, the DAAD test is enough.


  • Do I have to pay fees at the host university? Not if you get a free place, you have to pay extra for food and accommodation.
  • Did you receive a scholarship to finance your stay abroad? Yes, a PROMOS scholarship from the FH.
  • Which way to get to the host university is recommended? How high are the travel costs? Plane and then bus, there and back approx. 700 €
  • Did you have to take out additional health insurance? If so, which ones and at what cost? International health insurance, around € 1 a day (as far as I can remember).
  • Is further insurance necessary? Not in my opinion.

On site

  • What formalities have to be done after arrival? Activate the computer accounts, open ID card, library account.
  • Where is the best place to live and what are the average housing costs? How to get the apartment, single or double room depending on your taste. Food and meals for a trimester approximately $ 3500.
  • How was the apartment search (who is the contact person)? Everything will be arranged in advance by post. Everything is attached to the university.
  • What is the average cost of living? Can you (except for excessive alcohol consumption) settle everything with the amount already paid for Room and Board?
  • What is cheap / expensive? Everything comparable to Germany.
  • How are the shopping facilities? There is a shuttle to Wal-Mart and a shopping mall on campus. There are some small pharmacies in the city (like Schlecker). There is a small store on campus.

About the host university

  • Briefly describe the host university! A small, sleepy college in a small, sleepy town. Good teaching (that means it is a bit more expensive to study there;)
  • How was the quality of the events? Very good. Small groups, good facilities, committed lecturers.
  • How is the host university equipped? Very good!
  • What are the opening times on campus, what are the libraries like, are there scripts for the lectures? How many hours per week did you have on average? Which evaluation system is there (ECZS)? The opening times of the buildings are optimal, usually until late in the evening (Bib around the clock). For most subjects, very expensive books have to be purchased, but of course you can then sell them again. There are credits like here in Germany that can also be converted.
  • Did the professors prepare you well for exams? Did you get help from them outside of the events? Very good preparation of the professors, office hours by arrangement (they only have time by arrangement!)
  • Are there special introductory courses for visiting students? Yes, to the Term case.
  • Who was the contact person at the foreign university?
    Lara Atkins, Director of International Programs, Email: atkinsl (at) union.edu Phone: (518) 388-6002
  • What did you like / not so much about the campus?
    - Nice people, professors
    - Wasted food, waste production
  • How is the transport connection? What is to be considered? Everything is fine, the campus is a bit remote.

About the courses attended

  1. Attended course: Internal combustion engines
    Lecturer: Bradford Bruno
    Course duration & scope, type of teaching: 2 * 3 hour lecture
    Keywords for the course description: Combustion engines (a lot of homework, quizzes, final exam)
    Form of proof of achievement: Calculated from quizzes, homework, final exam
    Is the course recommended? Yes
  2. Attended course: Introduction into Circuits and Electronics
    Lecturer: James Hedrik
    Course duration & scope, type of teaching: 3 * 1.5 hours lecture / exercise
    Keywords for the course description: Introduction to electrical engineering
    Form of proof of achievement: Exams, homework
    Is the course recommended? Yes
  3. Attended course: Introduction into Economics
    Lecturer: Lewis Davis
    Course duration & scope, type of teaching: 3 * 1.5 hour lecture
    Keywords for the course description: Introduction to business administration
    Form of proof of achievement: Quizzes, exams
    Is the course recommended? Yes

Leisure activities

  • What are the sports facilities on campus like? Very extensive, see website.
  • Are the sports activities chargeable? No.
  • What recreational sports opportunities does the study site offer? Not much, the city is very sleepy.
  • What sights are there on site? A small, nice old town.
  • What tourist attractions does the surrounding area have to offer? Almost nothing (unless NYC).
  • Are there organized (possibly also subsidized) excursions for visiting students? Not in particular.
  • Are there many good restaurants and bars nearby? What do you recommend? A few nice bars and such, try out;)
  • Are there any special features that have to be taken into account in the local cuisine? Burger, burger, burger !!!
  • Where do you go in the evening (pubs, bars, discos, cinemas)? On-campus parties, town pubs, friends.
  • Are there special customs / manners among the locals and what is an absolute taboo? Drink. The taboo is: Saying something against God or America.

Final considerations - conclusion

  • How do you rate your stay abroad overall? Very worthwhile!
  • Did you choose the right time for your semester abroad? In any case.
  • What were the highs and lows of the stay? 
    Low points: the beginning because I was the only one who came and everything had already come together. Also: the homework.
    High points: The circle of friends at the end and the exams that were passed.
  • What will be remembered? The friends and the good overall impression. Hopefully the English skills.
  • What advice would you like to give to other students on your course who decide to spend a semester abroad at this foreign university? Do that!