FAQ (photo by Lisa Vanovitch)









A) The application

1.) Are there any preconditions for applying for the ISWI 2015?

To apply for the ISWI 2015 you have to be at least 18 years old (on 29th May 2015) and you have to be student. Other applications could unfortunately not be considered.


2.) How can I apply?

You can apply here. The application consists of two steps (1. Registration 2. Filling out the application form, writing two essays & submitting the application)

  • Essay 1: A statement on your personal connection to the topic of ISWI 2015 ‘responsibility’ and your motivation to join ISWI 2015
  • Essay 2: A statement concerning the choice you made regarding the working group

The essays will serve as basis for choosing the participants of ISWI 2015. They will be assessed by the Organisation Committee of ISWI 2015.

Tip: Use a text document to compose your essays before you apply. This way, you can take your time to write the essays. Furthermore, your essays won’t get lost when your Internet connection breaks down.


3.) When is the deadline for applying for the ISWI 2015?

Due to the technical problems we had around Christmas we extended the application deadline. Please submit your finalised application no later than the 31st of January 2015 (11:59 pm Central European Time).


4.) Is it possible to join ISWI 2015 with a friend of mine?

It is not possible to join with a friend just because he or she is a friend of yours. As it was stated above, we choose the participants on the basis of their essays, so that everybody has the same chance. That is why each of you has to apply individually with different essays. The better they are, the higher the chance to get invited.


5.) What happens, if I copy parts of my essays from a friend or the internet?

Do not copy any texts from the Internet, books, friends or other sources. Mark every quotation and state the source. Applications containing plagiarism will not be taken into consideration for ISWI 2015! Be sure, we will read every essay and check it.


6.) What happens after the application?

After the deadline (31st January 2015) we will start to read and assess your applications. This can last for about one month. If we have chosen you to participate in ISWI 2015, we will send an official invitation. (Please refrain from asking, if you are invited. We will contact you.)
After you have received the message that you are invited, please plan your journey and apply for visa, if necessary. Please contact us, if you are not able to come. So you give other people the chance to visit ISWI 2015.

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B) Visa & Invitation letter


1.) Do I get an official invitation to the ISWI 2015?

Yes, you will get an official invitation to the ISWI 2015. We will send the invitations presumably in the end of February or the beginning of March 2015.


2.) What is the official invitation for?

The official invitation confirms that you are invited to the 12th International Student Week in Ilmenau. It was signed by the president and the vice president of the ISWI 2015 Organisation Committee as well as by the Rector of “Technische Universität Ilmenau”. The ISWI 2015 is officially supported by Technische Universität Ilmenau.
The invitation is important for obtaining a visa to enter Germany (if it’s required of you to have one – check here). You can also use it as confirmation for your university that you are officially invited to ISWI 2015, in case you need a document to be released from your courses.


3.) Visa process (Check if you need a visa first.)

Please visit a German embassy or consulate at your country and apply for a visa. Please make sure, that the visa is also valid for your travelling days (not only for the days of the conference). At the embassy you will have to present your official invitation letter (and some other documents the embassy in your country might require, as it varies from country to country).
Please inform at the website of the German Federal Foreign Office and the website of the respective embassy before visiting the embassy. It might be helpful to present a document of your university or another official authority confirming your student status. The German Federal Foreign Office has already promised us that upon the presentation of your official invitation letter the German Embassies will help you as much as they can in getting your visa. But please be aware of the fact that the final decision about issuing visas for Germany is up to the embassy. Of course we do our best to inform the embassies and cooperate with them. If you have any problems or questions, please read the FAQ on our website first. You can also contact us via e-mail, phone or fax and we will do our best to help you.

4.) Is the visa free of charge?

Unfortunately we have to tell you that the visa for the participants of ISWI 2015 is not free of charge in general. We tried to establish such an agreement, but the Federal Foreign Office told us that they have tightened the rules concerning the grant of free of charges visas.
But nevertheless we would like to inform you about some exceptions. Here you can find a leaflet published by the German Federal Foreign Office. Our advice is: When you are applying for the visa take this leaflet with you and ask the embassy, if they can make an exception from taking the visa fee in your case, because you are a student and you are visiting an international student conference.

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C) Travel & Arrival


1.) How do I get to Germany?

Most of you will have to take the plane. The nearest international airport to Ilmenau is Leipzig (LEJ – about 3:20 hours per train to Ilmenau). But you can also fly to Berlin (SXF, TXL – about 4:15), Munich (MUC – about 5:45), Frankfurt (FRA – about 3:30) or Hamburg (HAM – about 6:00). Berlin Tegel and some other smaller Airports are not directly connected to the German Railway. There you will find shuttle busses to the train stations.
If you come from Europe, you may take the train. Therefore check the website of German Railways. They offer some special prices.

Another alternative could be taking a bus to Erfurt, NĂĽrnberg, Dresden, Berlin, MĂĽnchen, etc. There are different bus lines to European countries.

For example:

For traveling within Germany there are several cheap bus connections, so-called ‘Fernbusse’ – i.e. long-distance buses. The tickets are often cheaper than train tickets, especially when you book early. There are many different companies. You can check on the website busliniensuche if there is a connection that fits to your travelling plans. Tip: Use the function ‘Expand search range around departure and destination’ under ‘Display further options’ for getting better results.


2.) What is the difference between Frankfurt International Airport and Frankfurt Hahn?

Frankfurt International Airport (FRA) is a big international airport in Frankfurt. All international flights arrive at FRA. Frankfurt Hahn (HHN) is just a small airport about 120 km in the west of Frankfurt. Some cheap flights with Ryanair from European countries and Morocco arrive there. To go to Frankfurt you will have to take a bus.


3.) How do I get to Ilmenau?

If your flight arrives at Frankfurt, Berlin, MĂĽnchen, Leipzig or Hamburg airport, the best way to get to Ilmenau is by train or by long-distance buses (see question 1).

Look for the next train station of German Railways (“Deutsche Bahn”). You can buy a ticket to Ilmenau at the German Railways office (“Reisecenter”) or any ticket machine. Note that some airlines offer a train ticket inside Germany (Rail + Fly). This would be a cheaper way to buy your ticket.

There are no direct trains from the above mentioned cities to Ilmenau and you will have to change trains at least in Erfurt, which is the nearest larger city to Ilmenau. For more information about tickets and schedules please check out: http://www.bahn.de/i/view/GBR/en/index.shtml.

You can also choose to take a bus from Erfurt to Ilmenau. In this case you buy the ticket on the bus.

Make sure you don’t confuse the Ilmenau station, where you’ll get off, with the other two Ilmenau stations coming before Ilmenau. The right station is simply called ‘Ilmenau’ and it is the final station of the track. From the 29th to 31st of May, there will be someone of the Organising Committee waiting to collect you at the train station. If you decide to take the bus, get off at the Ilmenau bus station “Busbahnhof” (you can ask the driver when you’re not sure if it’s the correct station). The Ilmenau train station and bus station are right next to each other.

Please don’t hesitate to ask the staff at the information centres at the airport and/or at the train stations, if you need more information. Also don’t hesitate to call us if you need help. If you get lost in Ilmenau, follow the signs to ‘Technische Universität Ilmenau’
and ask passengers


4.) How can I find information on trains to Ilmenau?

Please check out the website of German Railways. You will find a lot of information about schedules, prices, special offers, …


5.) How can I save money?

German Railways have different special offers. You can buy a “Quer-Durchs-Land-Ticket” and travel with a group of 5 persons. With this option you are not allowed to take the ICE and IC, but you pay just 76 € for the whole group for one day (http://www.bahn.de/i/view/GBR/en/prices/germany/quer-durchs-land-ticket.shtml).

On weekends (Saturday & Sunday) you can also take a “Happy Weekend Ticket”, which is even less expensive – currently 44 €  for 1-5 persons (http://www.bahn.de/i/view/GBR/en/prices/germany/schoenes-wochenende-ticket.shtml).

For your fly back you can buy the train ticket to the airport easily in advance and get some cheaper prices (http://www.bahn.de/i/view/GBR/en/prices/germany/savertickets.shtml).

Some airlines offer tickets including the train ticket inside Germany. This could be a good option, too (http://www.bahn.de/i/view/GBR/en/prices/germany/rail_and_fly.shtml).


6.) When should I arrive in Ilmenau?

You are expected to arrive in Ilmenau on Friday, May 29th, or Saturday, May 30th. The check-in will be in the Mensa building on the campus of Technische Universität Ilmenau. On these days somebody of the Organisation Committee will be waiting at the Ilmenau train station for every arriving train or bus to collect you. You will be able to reach us via phone (+49 3677 – 69 1946) 24 hours a day from Thursday, May 28th, throughout ISWI 2015. If you arrive before Friday please contact us a few days in advance.


7.) What happens, if I arrive before the 29th of May?

Please inform us about the exact date and time of your arrival. We will try our very best to find a place for you to stay until the beginning of the ISWI 2015. But we cannot guarantee that it will be free of charge as the costs for the accommodation are only covered for the time of the conference.


8.) What can I do, if there is no flight for the 29th of May (Arrival) or 7th of June (Departure)?

Usually, it is no problem if you can’t make it on the 29th of May, but you should arrive not later than the 31st of May, because the group work starts on Monday.

If you can’t find a flight back home on the 7th of June, please be aware of the fact, that after the ISWI you have to take care of the food and the accommodation on your own. Of course we will help you to find a place to stay until you are flying back home. Be aware that your flight back home must be before the expiring date of your visa. So please consider this during your planning.

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D) Finance


1.) What do I have to pay?

You have to pay for your travel and visa expenses. The accommodation during the conference and the basic meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) will be provided by us. There is no participation fee for this conference. In addition, you will have free entry to all cultural events of ISWI 2015.


2.) Do I have to pay a participation fee?

No. There is no participation fee for ISWI 2015. You only have to pay travelling and visa costs.


3.) How much money should I bring?

That depends on what you would like to buy. Accommodation, meals and festival events are free of charge for you, but you might want to buy souvenirs or beer, juice and coffee at the student clubs while hanging out with friends. If so, we would like to stress the fact that the standard of living in Germany is high. To give you an idea about the prices: a coffee is about 70 Cents, a beer about 2.00 Euro and a coke about 1.50 Euro. These prices are taken from the student clubs on the campus, where everything is usually much cheaper than in the clubs in the city or in restaurants.


4.) Is there any financial support by the ISWI 2015 Organisation Committee concerning the travel?

Unfortunately it is not possible for us to give any financial support concerning your travel expenses. We are only a student organisation that tries to do its best in organising this conference. Thus we depend on public funding by the German State, by private sponsors and foundations. It is hard work to get all the money to realise the conference. We hope you can understand our situation. Please refrain from asking. We only could assist you by writing letters of support if you plan to ask your university or local companies for a scholar- or sponsorship. Please contact us and tell us the details if you would like such a support.


5.) Where can I exchange some foreign currency into Euros (in Germany)?

You can exchange your money in any bank in Ilmenau (banking hours are from Mo-Fr, 9 am – 4 pm), but due to the schedule of the festival events, you probably won’t have much time to do this. We would also like to warn you that some banks do not accept the currencies of some countries. The US dollar is probably the most advisable and convenient foreign currency to carry and exchange if you do not carry any Euros. Be aware that you won’t get the full value of what you exchanged, because banks charge you about 5 Euro as their exchange fee every time you exchange some foreign currency. So you’d better exchange all the foreign currency you think you’ll need for your stay in just one transaction. We should also warn you that the exchange centres which you find in airports and train stations charge a higher commission than regular banks. ATMs (automatic teller machines) are available all over Ilmenau as well.


6.) What about traveller’s cheques, bank cards and credit cards?

If you plan to use some traveller’s cheques instead of cash to exchange into Euros, we should warn you that the exchange rate for a traveller’s cheque is lower than if you exchange cash and that the “commission” system applies to traveller’s cheques, too (see preceding question). You can avoid these commissions, if you use your bank card or your credit card to withdraw money (if you withdraw money in Germany, the ATM gives it to you in Euros no matter what currency the account is in). Master Card and Visa is widely accepted in Germany and you can also use them (and your Euro Cheque bank card, if you have one) to withdraw money from the automatic teller machines 24 hours a day.

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E) The conference


1.) How many people applied for the last ISWI?

For ISWI 2013, we got more than 2500 applications from 110 different countries.


2.) In which workshop will I participate?

The final selection of your workshop will be made after your arrival in Ilmenau at the check-in, where you will register for the working group you will participate in. We will try to comply with your first choice, but due to capacity reasons it is possible that we just can offer you your second or third choice topic. Note: You will only be able to participate in one working group during the conference.


3.) In how many workshops will I participate?

You will only participate in one of the three working groups you selected within the application process (see preceding question).


4.) Can I change my workshop?

You can change your selected workshop during the registration after your arrival in Ilmenau.


5.) Can I hold a lecture during the conference?

You are invited to hold a lecture, give a workshop or start a discussion on a certain topic of your choice within ‘ISWI Open Space’ on Wednesday, 3rd June. In case you’d like to hold a lecture please prepare and bring all the material you need. Please inform us if you need any equipment.


6.) I have stated that I would like to hold a lecture. When will I be able to do so?

There will be the ‘ISWI Open Space’ on Wednesday, 3rd June, where you are invited to hold your lecture (see preceeding question).


7.) Where can I find information on the programme of the conference?

Here you can find more information on the programme of ISWI 2015 and a preliminary schedule.

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F) Your stay in Ilmenau


1.) What about accommodation and board during the ISWI?

We have a host programme, where Ilmenau students and citizens voluntarily host the participants of our conference so that both sides can directly meet each other. Within the preceding conferences we made good experiences with this. Often, the hosts and the participants become close friends.
So, you will have a host who will welcome you and will try to make your stay in Ilmenau as pleasant as possible. During ISWI, you will live in your host’s house. Every participant will meet his/her host at the check-in.


2.) How will I find a host?

We will provide an online forum, where the participants and hosts can contact and find each other before the start of the conference. But due to our experience the most participants will find their host at the arrival in Ilmenau, where the Organisation Committee will assist every participant in finding a host. So don’t worry if you do not find a host before your travel. We will inform you as soon as the forum is online.


3.) How will the weather be and what to pack for ISWI?

Ilmenau weather, also in the beginning of June, can be very capricious. One minute, the sun may be shining and five minutes later, it may start to rain. So when you pack, bring both – clothes for warm and sunny as well as for cold and rainy weather. (If you want to pack light, remember you can always wear clothes in layers when it’s cold.) Bring a pair of comfortable walking shoes, too, if you plan to go hiking in the forests around Ilmenau or participate in the sports event.
The other important things you need, are listed below:


  • passport (Make sure you have the necessary visa!)
  • copy of all personal documents (passport, visa, …)
  • ticket (flight and return flight)
  • a sleeping bag (if you have one)
  • money for your personal expenses
  • sense of humour and an open mind 🙂


  • sportswear and shoes for in- and outdoor sport during the sports event. Please make sure that your indoor shoes have a light sole; not a black one.
  • national costume and traditional music (for the International Brunch on Sunday)
  • traditional food of your country (for the International Brunch on Sunday).
  • lecture materials (If you want to give a lecture, be well prepared and if you need any equipment, let us know.)
  • medication you might need
  • comfortable and sturdy walking shoes (if you plan to go hiking on Thursday)
  • musical instrument (if you like to play some own music, especially in the music group)
  • camera (if you want to take photos, especially in the photography group)


4.) Am I insured during the conference?

During the whole course of ISWI 2015 you are insured. The Organisation Committee will provide you with free health-, accident-, and third party- insurance as well as legal protection. That fact also will be stated in your official invitation letter.

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G) Other


1.) I need a reference for applying for a sponsorship. Could you provide something like this?

Please send us an email to info@iswi.org with your detailed request (What do you need the reference for? What information should the letter contain?). Within a few days we will send you a reference letter.


2.) How can I contact other participants (from my country) (e.g. to arrange travelling together)?

To contact other participants (e.g. from your country) you can use different ways. If you have a Facebook account, you can join the ISWI-Group on Facebook and look for other participants of ISWI 2015.
The other possibility for contacting people will be the online forum that we will provide in due time. There you can ask questions, contact people (e.g. your future host), talk etc. But please do not discuss the conference’s topics in detail because other participants might not have the chance to take part in this discussion (e.g. due to bad Internet connection).

For data privacy reasons we cannot give you the contact of other participants. But we can give your contact data to the other participants of your country, if you allow us to do so. Then they can contact you. If you want us to give your contact data to the other participants from your country, you can write to info@iswi.org.


3.) How long does it normally take until I get a reply to my request?

We try our best to answer all your requests as soon as possible. But since we are all volunteers and organise the conference in our free time after our studies, it could take a few days up to a week until we are able to answer your request. We try our best to answer urgent questions immediately. Thank you for your understanding.

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We tried to cover all questions. If there is something you would still like to ask, e-mail us at info@iswi.org and we’ll be happy to help you.