At Dresden University of Applied Sciences, faranto e.V. helps students from all over the world settle in

The opportunity to study on the other side of the world promises to be a great experience: new people, another language – but also lots of forms. Since 2001, faranto e.V. has been looking after students from all over the world at Dresden University of Applied Sciences (HTW), ensuring they aren’t overwhelmed by dealing with the student services office, the city’s registration office, health insurers and banks. “I was met at the airport,” says Shin Youjin from South Korea, who is studying electrical engineering in Seoul and visiting Europe for the first time on an exchange semester. She has been to the registration office and also enrolled at the student services office. “It would have been much more complicated doing it all on my own,” she says, speaking in English.

Up to 100 international students

“We get perhaps 35 visiting students in the summer semester,” explains Markus Dietze of faranto e.V. “But in winter there might be around 100, and that’s when our members really have their hands full.” The industrial engineering student has been a volunteer with faranto e.V. for two years. The organisation consists of 25 students in total and its name is an Esperanto word that means “a person who does things”. And the society does indeed do lots of things, many of them in close cooperation with HTW Dresden’s International Office, which maintains partnerships with a range of universities and higher education institutions around the world. “During welcome week, a representative from health insurer AOK comes to the university to give advice on health insurance for students from outside Europe,” says Markus Dietze. Students can also open a bank account for the duration of their stay if necessary. “An advisor from the bank is on hand, meaning the students can complete all the necessary formalities right here at the university,” says Dietze.

The Erasmus network

Faranto’s voluntary services are much appreciated by the exchange students. Jonas Korhonen from Finland has come to Dresden to study for a degree in international business and hopes to learn some German at the same time. The 23-year-old is full of praise for the help he received when he arrived, which he says made it much easier to settle into life in the city. Lara Rubio Pérez from Valencia in Spain agrees with him: “Some of the forms are really complicated, but the faranto volunteers made it all easy.” The design student plans to learn German in Dresden and – like the majority of the exchange students – came to Germany as part of the EU’s Erasmus programme. Faranto e.V. maintains strong links with the Erasmus Student Network to enable it to provide the best possible conditions for students visiting Dresden. Markus Dietze hasn’t yet had the chance to study abroad, but hopes to do so during his master’s degree and would like to go to Krakow. Hopefully, he will be welcomed just as warmly there as the visiting students are in Dresden.