Virginia Tech Handbook. Exchange program of the Department of Vehicle Technology at the Technical University of Darmstadt


1 Virginia Tech Handbook Exchange program of the Automotive Engineering Department, Technical University of Darmstadt


3 3.8.4 Conduction Heat Transfer Brian Vick (ME 5304) Fluid Dynamics John Charonko (ME 5404) Introduction in physical Geographics Research Project Sustainable Energy Solutions (ESM / ME 4194) World Regions John Boyer (GEOG 1014) Vehicle Propulsion - Prof. Walter O Brien and Dr. Lin Ma (ME 5135) Additive Manufacturing - Prof. Williams (Rapid Prototyping) (ME 5644) Manufacturing Systems Engineering Dr. Lee Wells (ISE 5204) Operations Research (ISE 5104) Advanced Micro and Nanorobotics (ME 5864) Nonlinear Systems Theory Dr. Kurdilla (ECE 5774) Travel & Tourism Management (HTM 2454) Autonomous Systems Seminar (ME 5914) APPENDIX A: FORMER DESTINATIONS Exchange program with Virginia Tech 3

4 Preface This handbook is intended both to give interested students a general overview and to help those students selected for the program with their preparation. It is essentially based on the reports from previous years from 2008 onwards. However, we have taken the liberty of summarizing / shortening some points. At this point we would like to thank everyone who made this exchange possible for us. We had a lot of fun, made many new international friends and gained experience. Experience has shown that in addition to studying, there is some time to travel and discover the most diverse facets of the USA. Special thanks go to Professor Winner and his colleague Nils Magiera, who made this exchange possible through their commitment. Thanks are also due to the International Relations Office. We wish all applicants the best of luck with their selection and all those selected a lot of fun and an unforgettable six months at Virginia Tech! Let's go Hokies! Eric Hein, Björn Klamann, Lukas Sämann Darmstadt 2017 exchange program with Virginia Tech 4

5 1 Exchange program with Virginia Tech The FZD exchange program with Virginia Tech is a truly unique experience. Not the good range of courses and the academic quality, the impressive campus, the university's extensive range of sports and outdoor activities, the excellent cafeteria, the many trips, the priceless experiences, international contacts, an insight into American culture, the legendary parties, a win In terms of independence, the honor of the DAAD scholarship or the advantages in the later job interview are decisive, but that you can have everything together. Figure 1: Main Entrance to Campus Figure 2: VT Football Exchange Program with Virginia Tech 5

6 2 Preparing for the stay This chapter first shows an overview of when the necessary preparatory steps are due. Then the individual steps are briefly explained and the most important information is presented. You can also find information and sometimes forms on the Virginia Tech website. The Cranwell International Center is helpful here, which provides a lot of information for exchange students Timeline Task Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Application to FZD TOEFL test Formal application to the VT Flight Visa Accommodation (on / off campus) Vaccinations Insurance Cash and Credit Cards Let's go, Hokies! 1 e.g. under New Students, Pre-Arrival Information Prepare your stay 6

7 2.2 Application to the FZD The application process begins with a written application to the FZD, which is usually to be submitted by the end of November. Which documents are required and which deadlines have to be observed can be found on the homepage of the FZD 2. In this regard, particular attention should be paid to submitting complete documents and making an effort when applying. The effort is worth it. All you need is a cover letter, a list of the courses you want to take abroad, a curriculum vitae, the university record, a copy of your Abitur certificate and another form that can be found on the FZD website. Once the application documents have been submitted, it happens relatively quickly. Potential candidates then receive a written invitation to the selection interview after about a week, which in recent years has always taken place in mid-December. Topics here are, for example, the student's previous career and expectations of the exchange itself. Teamwork, social commitment, resilience in stressful situations and academic performance were particularly relevant in the conversation. Here you will also have the opportunity to ask questions about the further process or the program content. If you have been nominated by the selection committee to participate in the exchange, you will be informed before Christmas and the information forwarded to the International Relations Office. The IRO staff will then contact the nominees and inform them about the next steps in the application process. The next step is finally the application to the host university, which is done completely online, see chapter Language test (TOEFL / IELTS) To apply to Virginia Tech, a result of at least 80 points must be achieved in the new ibt (TOEFEL) (internet-based test). Alternatively, an IELTS 3 can also be completed, which must result in a minimum score of 6.5. In the following, the TOEFL is used as a substitute for an English placement test. Registration for this takes place via the operator's website 4 and must be paid for with a credit card. Even if the website is not very clear, read carefully so as not to miss any details. It is important to register for the TOEFL as soon as possible after acceptance of the program, as the places are very limited and you may have to drive far to a test center if you register too late. The early registration is important insofar as the final formal application to the VT must contain the test result of the TOEFL and this result only about 2 to 4 weeks after Longman, Preparation Course for the TOEFL test; ETS, Official Guide to the TOEFL Test Preparation of the stay 7

8 participation in the test is available. Have the results sent to you at home, sending them directly to TU Darmstadt usually does not work and is also not necessary. The test itself consists of four parts, speaking, writing, listening and reading. It is advisable to borrow or buy a current TOEFL preparation book including CD-Rom 5 (ULB). The book helps to prepare for the reading and writing part. With the other parts, the CD is particularly helpful, as the structure corresponds to the original TOEFL. Intensive preparation is recommended. The sample answers for the respective parts of the task are well described in the books mentioned above. Attention: even with good knowledge of English, care should be taken to work on the parts of the task according to the desired TOEFL scheme. Since there have always been bad experiences with the TOEFL test centers in the past, we can highly recommend the Eloquia 6 language school in Frankfurt. The atmosphere is very good, the rooms are not overcrowded and the volume is reasonable. In Darmstadt, the test can be taken at Studio Mondiale 7. Consider taking the IELTS instead of the TOEFL. So far no one has apparently considered this option, as nothing about it was to be read in the experience reports. According to the online portal for registering at VT, the IELTS is also accepted. 2.4 Formal application to VT Since 2014, applications to VT have been completely online, and documents no longer need to be sent by post. You can find rough instructions from the VT on the Internet 8. In the following, we will also show the application process step by step. 1. Fill out the declaration of acceptance of the study visit and bring it to Mr Tischer from the IRO. 2. Send a preliminary selection of subjects that you want to take at VT to Mr Tischer by email. This list is required for the nomination at the VT, which is carried out by Mr. Tischer. This list is provisional and by no means mandatory! 3. After the nomination, you will receive an application ID from VT. With this ID you create a VT Guest Account, which you use during the entire application process. This is the access to an application platform to which you gradually upload all the necessary application documents. 4. You upload the following documents to the platform mentioned in point 3: a. Financial Certification Form consisting of Personal Funds, Funds available from parents or other family members, Affidavid of support from account holder, Official Award letter from sponsor (Proof that you or your parents have $ 8,500 available as security reserve 5 Longman, Preparation Course for the TOEFL Test; ETS, Official Guide to the TOEFL Test Preparation of the stay 8

9 have / have. If the amount cannot be guaranteed, the FZD's grant can also be used.) B. List of proposed courses (again preliminary course list) c. TOEFL / IELTS Score Report (scanned letter with the result) d. Unofficial Copy of Transcript (Bachelor and Master in English) e. Copy of Passport 5. After your application you will receive a so-called decision letter by. This is the declaration of acceptance from VT. Make sure that there are no spelling mistakes in your address, your name or the like. Together with the decision letter you will possibly asked again to submit some documents that you had already uploaded before. Just do it 6. The next mail from the VT contains welcome information, this is information about course registration and instructions for creating the PID (personal ID). 7. The VT account and the VT address are created with the created PID. With the PID you can also log into HookieSpa, an internet platform that is used to register for courses (similar to TuCan in Darmstadt.) In general, it should not be forgotten that the number one is a single line, the number seven is a 7 and dates in in the form MM / DD / YYYY, and decimal numbers are separated by a period instead of a comma. 2.5 Flight It is advisable to arrive one week before the start of the lectures. During this week you can explore the area, run errands, make first contacts and settle in. Flights can either be direct to Roanoke (nearest airport with an hourly bus connection to Blacksburg: SmartWayBus 9; from Roanoke Regional Airport to Squires Student Center in Blacksburg, but NOT available on Sundays) or to the next larger city such as Washington D.C. to fly. When booking a flight, pay attention to the SmartWayBus timetable, as a taxi from Roanoke to Blacksburg costs around $ 100. The onward journey from Washington to Blacksburg is possible by Megabus 10 to Christiansburg and from there by taxi / bus. In 2016, the students booked the Megabus, which is highly recommended, also for inexpensive trips to New York, for example. Attention: The bus from Christiansburg to Blacksburg does not run on Sundays, the Uber app was a helpful alternative to public transport. Here everyone has to decide for themselves whether the cheaper flight to Washington is worth the extra effort and the costs for bus and taxi. If you still want to travel to the USA after your stay in Blacksburg, it may be worthwhile to book all flights at once as an open jaw flight. In addition to taking a look at the major flight search engines, it is also worth taking a look at the homepages of the major German and American airlines. When traveling with a rental car, the preparation of the stay 9

10 high one-way fees apply (e.g. Florida $ 400). The installation of the Uber app is generally recommended, as there are no taxis in Blacksburg itself. 2.6 Visa In preparation for applying for a visa, the consulate at the TU Darmstadt offered an information event in which the entire application process was explained. For this you will be invited by. You can find more information on the homepage of Consulate 11. For the J1 visa, a trip to the American Consulate in Frankfurt is necessary. As soon as you receive the confirmation documents including the DS-2019 from VT, it is advisable to make an appointment at the consulate as soon as possible. This is done on the Internet on the homepage of Consulate 12. To fill out the online form and for your consulate appointment, you need a photo that meets the requirements for the American visa. The regulations can also be found on the website of the consulate. Before the appointment, the online application form DS-160, which is required at the consulate, must be completed. Saves regularly when you fill out this form, as the page often crashes. In the course of the further process, you register for an appointment at the consulate. Filling out the online form and making an appointment can easily take several hours. For the appointment at the consulate, the security regulations must be observed (see the website of the consulate). At the consulate you have to describe the reason for your stay and your current training situation in a short interview. 2.7 Insurance for foreign health (see under medical provision), accident and liability insurance must be checked for the necessary requirements for the semester abroad. International health insurance in particular has to meet the very high standards of Virginia Tech. For this purpose, the form provided by VT (International Waiver 13) must be completed and signed by the insurer, whereby ALL (!) Listed criteria must be met without restriction. In 2014, the previously frequently recommended Hanse Merkur no longer met the criteria of the VT or no longer signed the form. The only insurance company known to us that still meets all the requirements and signs the form is ERV. In 2015, ERV's insurance could no longer be used. Preparation for stay 10

11 The only insurance company that was able to cover the requirements was Care Concept AG 14. Here, all but one point were covered, which addressed the issue of protection against pregnancy problems. Since only male candidates went to VT in 2015, the insurance company was so friendly and signed this point as well. The international health insurance was found and taken out with the help of Patrick Stantejsky 15 from MLP Darmstadt. Without an MLP, however, this is also easily possible via the Care Concept website. This insurance was also recognized in 2016. Alternatively, you can also apply for insurance through the DAAD, which in 2016 costs 148.00 per month and thus significantly higher than the monthly fee of Care Concept. A sufficient disability sum is recommended for accident insurance. In the case of liability, it is recommended that the cover amount for personal injury and property damage is 6 million. When choosing the right insurance, this is possible with very low premiums. 2.8 Cash and credit cards To provide financial support in Blacksburg, the right account is the key to escape the sometimes horrific fees. An account with the Deutsche Kreditbank DKB has proven to be practical, as the associated credit card can be used to withdraw money from any VISA and VISA + machine throughout Europe without any fees. Withdrawal fees may have to be paid outside the EU, but they are refundable. There are no account management or provision fees. Only for payments made directly by credit card are there a 1.75% fee. An alternative is the free student credit card from MLP 16 or the Santander Bank. Such credit cards should be applied for as early as possible, as they are often first rejected by students. However, you can get a credit card with a guarantee from your parents. In principle, a credit card is mandatory in the USA, as it is required for all hotel or rental car bookings. You can also pay by credit card in all bars and restaurants. In addition, do not be surprised if the credit card is withheld in a bar with the question (do you want to open a tab?), This is common and the card will be returned as soon as the invoice is requested. Under certain circumstances it can be useful to open an account at a local bank in Blacksburg, as sometimes it is not possible to pay the rent by Visa credit card. In addition, USA preparation for stay 11

12 internal transfers can be done without fees, but an account on site was not necessary! 2.9 Vaccinations The list of the required vaccinations can be found on the Internet 17 and must be returned to the Schiffert Health Center upon arrival at the VT. This list must also be sent to VT by email four weeks prior to entry.As with insurance, the following applies here again: ALL requirements must be met without exception, otherwise you will not receive a transcript of records with your grades! If the VT has doubts about immunity (e.g. due to failure to observe the 28-day period between two vaccination doses) against an illness, the health center on campus (or another doctor on site) has to re-vaccinate or test a titer. A vaccination can be carried out immediately after the approval by FZD and be removed from the to-do list Accommodation One of the most important decisions before the start of the stay is the decision on accommodation. On- or off-campus? If on campus, then where? If off-campus, then where? In general, it should first be said that no one has regretted their decision on the respective housing so far, both have advantages and disadvantages. Everything here is a matter of weighing up and, in the end, also a type thing. In the following you should get the advantages and disadvantages of the respective housing. It should be noted that with the decision for accommodation, a decision for the meal plan (eating on campus; see chapter 3.3) is also made. You can find information for both on-campus and off-campus housing on the Virginia Tech 18 homepage. In addition to the price lists, you can also find the deadlines for on-campus housing here (check early, around April / May, at get a feel for when to choose the alternative). Information on these deadlines can also be obtained in the reply letter after the official application to Virginia Tech. It is important to send the official application to Virginia Tech early, the sooner you will receive an answer and a lot of information! Therefore, at this point, the advice to do the TOEFL early, which you need to apply to Virginia Tech. In general, it is best to start looking for an apartment early! However, many off-campus shared flats also advertise rooms at very short notice, especially in the VT Housing Facebook group Preparation of Stay 12

13 In general, the housing market in Blacksburg is relatively relaxed at the moment, so it shouldn't be a problem to get an apartment for around $ 400 at short notice. Housing on-campus A fundamental advantage of on-campus housing is first of all that it is relatively easy to organize from Germany, although it is not a big hurdle to find an off-campus housing option. There are two dormitories (halls) for graduate students, which differ in terms of price and equipment: Donaldson Brown Hall (Graduate Life Center, GLC): The most expensive alternative is living in the Donaldson Brown Hall (Graduate Life Center, GLC) right on the Virginia Tech campus. In the dormitory you can stay in both single and double rooms with their own bathroom, which are generally very well equipped. The dormitory has the great advantage that it is extremely central and downtown Blacksburg, courses, the library or sports halls can be reached in just a few minutes. Since the dormitory is especially available to Master and PhD students, you come into contact with students of the same age and many international students. Therefore, the dormitory offers an excellent opportunity to experience typical American campus life for yourself. Definitely to be recommended. Main Campbell Hall: Main Campbell Hall is a mixed dorm for undergraduate and graduate students. The equipment is less comfortable than in the Graduate Life Center, but the costs are lower. The rooms are equipped with a bed, desk, chair, built-in cupboard, shelf and their own washbasin and can be used as single and double rooms. In contrast to the GLC, however, there is no air conditioning in the rooms. The shared bathrooms are modern and clean and were completely renovated in summer 2011. The location, right on Drillfield, is ideal with short walkways to the lecture halls, dining halls and sports facilities. The atmosphere in the Main Campbell Hall is very open. The doors of the rooms are almost always open, so that you will meet other students again and again while walking down the hall. Housing Off-Campus In Blacksburg there are not only the possibility of living on campus but also several off-campus housing options. On the one hand there are possibilities in downtown Blacksburg, near the campus and Main Street, where there are many nightlife options, and on the other hand in residential areas around Blacksburg, which are a little further away from the campus. To find an apartment, you can prepare for your stay 13

14 you can get information or useful tips from Craigslist 19, Facebook 20 and above all from Virginia Tech 21 here. We found our apartments on Facebook and on the Virginia Tech website in 2015. It is definitely worthwhile to create a meaningful profile of yourself and submit a request. Another good way to get off-campus housing is to contact American students from Virginia Tech who are doing an exchange at the TU Darmstadt (e.g. barbecuing at FZD as part of the Automotive Engineering Summers). The students are very open and friendly and you can easily speak to them and ask for help. The early contact with the VT students also helped a lot in 2015. The advantages of off-campus housing include better contact with American students (including cars), significantly lower prices and better access to the numerous activities that take place off-campus. Close contact with other roommates, neighbors and their friends is a great advantage of off-campus housing. Prices for a moderate room in a good location start at around $ 400 including utilities. In addition, you usually have very large apartments / houses with a large living room and a huge kitchen and usually an outdoor pool. Disadvantages compared to on-campus housing are the sometimes longer way to the campus / downtown and the more difficult organization, since you may also have to take care of furniture yourself. Furthermore, many rental contracts have a minimum term of 6-12 months. For this reason, you may have to find a new tenant yourself. As a rule, however, there is the option of sub-renting a furnished room. When looking for an apartment off campus, it is generally advisable to pay attention to the location of the supermarkets (Food Lion and Kroger) and to prepare for your stay 14

15 Pheasant Run Drive The Village Rutherford Townhouses Terrace View Appalachian Drive Sunridge Drive Sturbridge Square Apartments Downtown Figure 3: Off-Campus Housing Downtown Blacksburg The Downtown apartments are close to the campus and bars on Main Street. If you live downtown you can enjoy the advantages of the short distances to the campus and the leisure activities on campus, as well as when going out in the evening. Compared to other off-campus housing options, higher costs are to be expected. Foxridge Foxridge is a housing estate on the outskirts of Blacksburg. It can be reached within 20 minutes by bike or bus from the campus. The bus runs regularly during the day, seldom in the evenings and on weekends. There are both advantages and disadvantages associated with living in Foxridge. The distance to the campus can be named as a disadvantage. Advantages are the price, the supermarket next to the settlement and the possibility to rent with or without furniture. Further Off-Campus Housing Options in Blacksburg In addition to the housing options circled above, there are many other good and inexpensive housing options. There are many groups of houses or apartments in Blacksburg that have a common name and belong to a property management company. You can prepare your stay there directly 15

16 Contact the property management and ask for free rooms or complete apartments. Often these communities also have their own websites. There you can either apply directly or create advertisements. Since there are very good bus connections in Blacksburg that students can use free of charge and everything in Blacksburg can be reached quickly and easily by bike, the area circled on the map can be expanded by many corners. If you follow North Main Street up to and including Patrick Henry Drive (and a little beyond it) you can safely accept any offer on the right to Harding Avenue and left to University City Boulevard. The apartments are inexpensive, well located and almost exclusively students live in the entire area. There are numerous shopping opportunities with Kroger, Foodlion and Seven Eleven. Furthermore, some of these communities offer additional leisure opportunities. These include basketball courts, swimming pools or billiard tables. Since students in the first year must live on campus, mainly students of the older age groups live there. Good off-campus housing options include: - Rutherford Townhouses - The Village - Pheasant Run - Pheasant Run Crossing Pheasant Run Crossing is a collection of semi-detached houses, so-called townhouses. These are mostly occupied by students and are extremely spacious. The rent for a room in a four-person flat share was warm dollars a year. The only downside would be the proximity to the highway and a certain amount of noise. - Terrace View - Oak Bridge Apartments - The Edge - Sturbridge Square Apartments These different types of accommodation differ greatly in terms of price, location, facilities and additional leisure options. There are many more of these housing options in Blacksburg. In addition, there are houses that are rented privately, i.e. without property management. Many of these offers can be found on Craigslist. All three students have lived in different off-campus shared apartments and would do so again. It is advisable to look for the apartment alone in order to establish contacts with American students as quickly as possible. The decisive factor for Off Campus Housing is the lower price and, above all, the contact with the Americans, who like to take you to house parties, etc. You also have your own room and don't have to share it with another student, as can happen off-campus. In order to establish contact with international students, it is particularly advisable to prepare for stay 16

17 first weeks to attend the events of the Graduate School, in which a lot of internationals take part (pub crawl, BBQ etc.). The international students are of course more willing to travel and a little more adventurous than the locals. Preparation of the stay 17

18 3 At Virginia Tech This information will help you prepare and at Virginia Tech. There is also a map 22 of the campus in the Cranwell Center or in the Squire Center, which is particularly helpful when starting out. 3.1 The first week In general, it is advisable to arrive in Blacksburg about a week before the start of the lectures. Many introductory and introductory events take place this week. In general, the first point of contact is the Graduate Live Center, where registration at VT takes place and where all graduate students are checked into their rooms. In addition, at the GLC you get a list of all organizational tasks that you have to do in the next few days. In addition, the Cranwell International Center offers a shuttle service to Walmart in Christiansburg for the first few days to provide you with the essentials (blankets, pillows, food, etc.). Alternatively, the Walmart can also be reached by public bus (TTT). The YMCA Toss Sale described in section 3.2 should definitely not be missed! You can find extremely cheap offers so some of the room furnishings for the off-campus housing could be bought, the selection was not so large and only small items such as a desk lamp or a garbage can could be bought. In general, the second hand shops YMCA and Goodwill are recommended to set up inexpensively. In addition to furniture, these also offer electronics (coffee machines, etc., clothing and much more). The Gobblerfest, an event at which all Virginia Tech clubs introduce themselves, also takes place in the first few weeks. With the very large selection such as Outdoor, pool, skydiving as well as all imaginable sports and much more, there is certainly something for everyone. It is best to seek contact with the clubs early on so that you do not miss any leisure events (the semester is shorter than you think). The CIC and GLC offer many events such as barbecues, parties, pub crawls and the like, where you can quickly get in touch with other internationals. 3.2 Shopping There are all kinds of shopping opportunities in Blacksburg. For larger purchases, for example at the beginning of the semester, the Walmart in Christiansburg is suitable. This is relatively far away and actually too far to be reached by bike. There are buses here, however, or you get to know other students by car, or, or In Blacksburg itself there are smaller shops such as 7/11, where you can buy small items, but also two Kroger markets (South Main Street and University City Boulevard) and a Foodlion (intersection of North Main Street + Patrick Henry 22 at Virginia Tech 18

19 Drive), which are comparable to German supermarkets. You can get an MVP or Kroger card free of charge from both of these supermarket chains, which can save a considerable amount of money over the 5 months. In addition to the supermarkets, the Carol Lee donut shop on North Main Street, which makes the best donuts in Blacksburg, is particularly recommended. The YMCA Toss Sale, a second hand sale, which takes place in the first week in the Cassell Coliseum next to the football stadium, is definitely to be recommended. There is everything imaginable here, like bicycles ($ 30- $ 70), furniture, refrigerators ($ 30- $ 50), microwaves, printers ($ 5 with cartridges), televisions, office chairs ($ 15-25), fans ($ 10- $ 20), hairdryers ( $ 3), iron ($ 2), extension cords and much more at unbeatable prices. Since the products (especially the bicycles) are sold out after a short time, you should be there as soon as or even before the toss sale begins! For a small fee you can even get the things delivered, unfortunately the selection wasn't that big, for example there were no bicycles, refrigerators or TVs. Nevertheless, we would recommend stopping by, as you can get a lot of little things there at low prices and the selection will change every year. There is also a YMCA store in Blacksburg, which sells a large number of items of clothing, as well as some remnants of the above items. The YMCA store is particularly useful when inexpensive clothing is needed for outdoor activities or the like. One tip is the Farmers Market, which usually takes place on Wednesdays and Saturdays and where you can buy fresh fruit from the region. Dates and locations can also be found on the Internet 23. According to rumors, real bread can also be bought here, but we cannot confirm this. 3.3 Meal / Mealplan First of all, the Mealplan that is available at Virginia Tech should be described here. In chapter 2.10 it was pointed out that the decision for off- or on-campus housing also means the decision for a meal plan. A meal plan must be purchased for on-campus. Since the canteens are open all week, independent cooking is usually not necessary when living on campus. The on-campus food is excellent, there are several canteens available, including an All-You-Care-To-Eat canteen and one of the best canteens in the country (multiple awards for good food). If you opt for Housing Off-Campus and still want to eat out on campus, you can optionally buy a meal plan, or load Dining Dollars 24 onto your Hokie Passport (such as the Athene Card), which gives you a 5% discount when paying (compared to Cash) at Virginia Tech 19

20 and VAT is waived. However, even the smallest meal plan does not pay off due to the cost structure 25, which is why we have used dining dollars and continue to recommend this. The canteens are very full between lectures and you have to expect waiting times of 30 minutes. As an alternative, there is also the possibility of having lunch in one of the numerous restaurants downtown (e.g. Chipotle, Cellars). These are less crowded and cost about the same as a meal in the cafeteria. The bars and restaurants downtown have daily food offers that are really worthwhile (e.g. Sharkies: A voucher for another burger with the purchase of a Monday burger (2016)). Furthermore, the Hooked app, which offers various food discounts every day, can be worthwhile. 3.4 Mobility in Blacksburg and the USA Even if Blacksburg is not a particularly large city, it is still too big to cover all distances continuously. The only public means of transport in Blacksburg is the bus. Otherwise, the bicycle is a good alternative. There are no trams or the like. A supra-regional train network is practically non-existent, which is why Europeans have to change things a bit.Bicycles You don't necessarily need a bike on campus, but if you want one for shopping or the nightly journey home etc., the Craigslist website is also available the YMCA Toss Sale (see section 3.2). If you decide to live off-campus, a bicycle is very useful but also not necessary. There is also the option of borrowing a bike for a few hours free of charge at the Graduate Life Center (Donaldson Brown Hall) as a graduate student.If you want a cheap bike, it is advisable to buy a bike on Craigslist before arriving in the USA and then pick it up on site, as many bikes sell quickly. It is also possible to buy a new bike in Walmart and, if you are lucky, sell it on Craigslist for the purchase price. Note 2013: Other German students bought a bike at Walmart and returned it after 90 days (and daily use). Walmart fully reimbursed the cost, even if the bike showed signs of use. This is due to a 90 day right of return period. Students used their bikes every day to go shopping or to go to campus. Bicycles are also ideal for long nights, as the buses do not travel all night. Bicycles can be found cheaply at the beginning of the semester on the Free and For Sale Facebook page of Virgina Tech At Virginia Tech 20

21 Bad experiences were made with the Hokie Spokes bike shop in 2016 Bus As an alternative to the relatively well-known Greyhound bus 26, there is the Megabus 27. The Megabus drives e.g. between New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC and Blacksburg (bus stop Christiansburg) and is one way of traveling. The Megabus is very cheap, especially if you book early. You can get trips to Washington DC for around $ 10. In Blacksburg itself, the BT-Transit 28 bus connections are very good and free with a valid student ID. Only in the late evening hours is the frequency reduced to one bus per hour and then completely stopped after 2:15 a.m. when bars and pubs close (0:15 a.m. during the week). The easiest way to plan your route is to use Google Maps 29, which can also be used to plan public transport throughout the USA. It should be noted, however, that the buses in Blacksburg only have a fixed departure time at so-called Timecheck stops and Google estimates the remaining departure times. Better to be at the station a few minutes earlier! You can also download the timetables as a PDF and plan bus rides offline (after some time to get used to). There are no plans / departure times at the stops themselves! As in Germany, the buses do not go in both directions of a line but in circles, i.e. only in one direction of the line. So it is necessary to take a different line for the way back than for the way there. Driver's license The American driver's license is not required to drive a car in the USA, but it offers the great advantage that you do not have a German passport with you when going out in bars etc. must wear. For twenty dollars it's also a nice souvenir of your time in Virginia. To get the American driver's license, you have to drive twice to Christiansburg (Two Town Trolly TTT bus) to the Department of Motorvehicles 30 (DMV). For the first time, the application form is filled out at the DMV and the German driver's license and passport are scanned. After about two to three weeks you will receive a letter from DMV that the review of the data has been completed and a new appearance is necessary. This time too, you have to do your best at Virginia Tech 21

Take your driver's license and passport with you. In addition, you need a proof of local residence. For all those who live off-campus, the (original) rental agreement is sufficient (sublease agreements are not accepted!). Further possibilities are e.g. a utility bill (available monthly in the USA) in your own name with the address. Those who live on campus either need a statement from their American bank account (which contains the address of the account holder). The Virginia Certificate of Enrollment 31 from the Department of Education is not accepted. After about one to two weeks you will receive your driver's license in the mail. Alternatively, a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) bus comes to VT once or twice, which enables the documents to be applied for from VT. The Cranwell International Center will provide dates for this. If you don't want to or can't get your driving license, you don't need to do so, as the German driving license is accepted everywhere and is sufficient for renting a car. In order to still have an American document in your hands, you should at least apply for the State ID (also from the DMV), which also allows entry into bars. The bouncers in Blacksburg are very strict when it comes to age checks! Sometimes two types of ID are required (e.g. Hokie passport and passport). The German identity card is not accepted (in other large cities it may be). To apply for the State-ID, a proof of local residence and a passport with DS-2019 are required. In 2015 it was particularly difficult to get a driver's license as the rules for a proof of local residence were tightened. Officially, only real rental contracts count and after long discussions a wide variety of letters were accepted by Virgina Tech. In addition, our documents were lost several times when they were electronically transmitted to the head office. So if the first letter still hasn't arrived after two to three weeks, call and ask. In addition, with the help of the Graduate Life Center, we had to enforce the validity of the driver's license until the end of Grace Period 32. The Graduate Life Center has proven to be very helpful in dealing with the difficulties, as it can establish direct contact with the DMV headquarters. Rental cars For longer trips and especially for trips with several people, rental cars offer a comfortable and inexpensive solution. There are various internet portals 33 offering a possibility of renting cars at comparatively cheap prices. Please note the various insurance policies or special conditions offered (e.g. ADAC: second driver included). Pick-up is practically always in Roanoke at the airport, as the daily rates are lower there. Additional month after the hourly visa expires and at Virginia Tech 22

23 In 2014 we had consistently positive experiences with the online rental car provider billiger-mietwagen.de. This enabled the rental cars to be rented much more cheaply and with full insurance coverage. The vehicle was picked up at Roanoke Airport. We were also able to take a few smaller tours with a roommate's private car. Anyone who is a member of ISIC 34 can receive premium rental packages free of charge from the Alamo 35 rental company and thus save a lot on the young driver or second driver fee. Attention: Rental car prices vary greatly depending on the rental location, a longer journey by public transport is usually the cheaper alternative to rental Airports Carsharing Carsharing is particularly useful for shopping and trips around Blacksburg. The vehicles are booked online by the hour and can then be picked up at the respective parking lot. The operator of the offer is the company Zipcar 36. Insurance and petrol are already included in the rental price. There are several different vehicles on offer, which are parked around the campus. Registration with ZipCar takes place online. All you need is a German driver's license and a credit card. However, the so-called driving records must be submitted later. In Germany, these correspond to information from the central traffic register (points) in English. For this purpose, the request for information from the central traffic register 37 must be filled out and sent by post to the Federal Motor Vehicle Office (sending by mail is also sufficient if agreed). After about a week you will receive the information by post and can then fax it to ZipCar. For those who have the new identity card (issued after), the process is simpler and can be looked up on the website of the Federal Motor Vehicle Office 38. Optimally, the application and registration with ZipCar can be done in Germany in order to be able to access the vehicles in the first week. Accessibility Like the rest of the USA, Blacksburg is noticeably more accessible than European countries. Most bars and shops are barrier-free and in almost every case also have a barrier-free toilet, whereby these are integrated in the usual toilets as a larger cubicle with integrated pdf, templateid = raw, property = publicationfile.pdf / formular_pdf.pdf 38 auskunft node. html? nnn = true At Virginia Tech 23

24 are. In the university buildings you usually have no problems accessing rooms with a wheelchair. Nevertheless, you should contact the Department Services for Students with Disabilities beforehand, as there are apparently some non-barrier-free rooms, but in this case they will move the courses before the start of the semester. The staff here are very friendly and also help very quickly on all other occasions, e.g. Finding accommodation or transport options. The VT also offers an extra transport service for students with disabilities, which picks you up from your front door free of charge if necessary. However, all buses and the Megabus are also equipped with ramps. Furthermore, there is also the possibility of renting a vehicle with hand throttle at every car rental company. This only has to be booked in good time (usually at least 48 hours) for the respective station by means of a short phone call. Since these are usually always the same vehicles, you can simply book the cheapest class online beforehand and then get a free upgrade to a mid-range vehicle. 3.5 Mobile phone The internet portal usasims 39, for example, helps as a guide for choosing the right SIM card. Ultra Mobile 40, H20 or Cricket have already been used as providers: With the monthly tariffs to be recharged, in addition to the extensive US-internal flat rates (SMS, MMS, Telephone, Internet), free telephony and free SMS sent to Germany are also often possible. In Blacksburg, however, the Internet reception from Ultra Mobile (T-Mobile network) is very slow (Edge). Whether this is due to the 3G frequency used by T-Mobile, which is not supported by German cell phones, or the generally poor T-Mobile network cannot be clearly determined. In metropolitan areas and larger cities, Ultra Mobile also gives you high-speed Internet with a German cell phone; networks and frequencies from other providers are probably used here. Here everyone has to decide for themselves how important fast cell phone internet is to them in Blacksburg. With AT&T you generally have better reception than with T-Mobile, the Verizon network has the best reception, but the SIM card does not work with most European smartphones (frequencies). In addition to buying a SIM card, it is very common in the USA to buy cell phones with a built-in SIM card. (Standard on Verizon) The initial cost of a basic cell phone is about $ 15. There is WLAN on campus and public WLANs are also very common in the USA, so that a data plan is not absolutely necessary, but recommended (Google Maps including bus timetables, etc.). The provider Cricket 41 turned out to be the best offer in 2016 and can be purchased on Main Street at Gamestop. For 35 (Autopay) you get 2.5 GB of data volume and USA Talk and SMS Flat at Virginia Tech 24