Bachelor of arts/journalism, 3rd year
Bachelor of arts/journalism, 3rd year

Academic experiences

I studied all German language courses.
So I did some grammar, history and political German studies, with the goals of improving my German (my arts major).
I was VERY unlucky with my subject selection though.
I was initially going to Freiburg with the hope of doing German AND sociology courses (my other major).
I prepared my study plan like everyone else and the information provided about what I could study in Freiburg said that there were plenty of sociology classes (taught in English) that were provided at Freiburg.
Turns out there were absolutely none.
My German was not good enough to study sociology in German so I had to scramble classes together left right and centre to make enough ECTS.
Luckily, I found enough German language courses that it turned out fine.
But it was not a great start!
So I highly recommend you triple check whether Freiburg has the courses you think they do (their university site can be very confusing).
Also, German professors do not seem to like answering their emails, and they only have 2-3 open consulting hours.
So get to their door first!

One of the many beautiful streets of Freiburg

Personal experiences

Freiburg is a beautiful place to live.
It's small enough that in 5 and a half months, you can really get to know the city.
Friends are easily made here- especially the other exchange students.
There are a lot Europeans here doing ERASMUS exchanges, they're so friendly and always up for a good time.
There weren't too many Australians but I found that a great way to get out of my comfort zone.
We barbecue all the time, go for hikes, and drink beers in famous German beer gardens.
It's a very relaxed city where everyone welcomes you with open arms.
From Freiburg, you can get almost anywhere!
Especially by the DB Bahn speed trains, or by trusty old Meinfernbus.
We took weekend trips to places like Berlin and Switzerland, and day trips to near-by Heidelberg or into France like Straßbourg or Belfort.
My German improved immensely and I recommend anyone coming here, with German language experience or not, to give it a go!
Speak to the locals in German (especially the waitresses/check-out chicks/bus drivers), they'll really appreciate it.

Celebrating 'mid-summer' with some of my Scandinavian friends

Accommodation

Everyone at Freiburg uni lives off-campus.
But it's still organised through the university.
I lived at Händelwohnheim.
Händel was close to the city centre, in a really nice part of town and had both German and exchange students living there.
I lived with 5 other people in a flat.
It was pretty perfect!
There was a lot of construction while I've been here, so it wasn't as wonderful as I've been told it used to be, but I'm sure it will be back to its old self soon enough!
Stusie was also an area I definitely would have liked to live in.
My friends who lived at Stusie lived right next to a big lake where you can swim and barbecue all day, every day.
But either Stusie or Händel are great places to live!

Road trip in the Black Forest!

Budget

Freiburg is a relatively inexpensive city.
Food and beer (of course) are cheap.
I recommend buying the semester ticket in terms of public transport.
It's 80-something euros, but it gives you free transport for the whole semester on the tram/bus/train around the region.
I tried to budget to 100 euros per week.
With groceries, eating out, going to bars or doing a day trip, it's a good budget to keep to.

On top of Schauinsland, Freiburg!

Academic development and employability

I definitely think having a grasp on another language puts you on the top of the heap.
Exchange toughens you up and teaches you how to deal with problems that wouldn't usually occur in your comfortable home environment.
Dealing with phone companies, lecturers, banks or essays in another language is not a walk in a park. And I think employers recognise this!

Highlight

I loved being able to hop on a bus and be in another country.
Be that France or Switzerland (Freiburg's closest neighbours) or if you go a little further, Czech Republic or Austria.
We also went to music festivals in nearby German cities and in France- that was a BLAST!
Discovering new European music or being able to get back to my Australian roots with Tame Impala or Cat Empire.
But honestly, the best part about my experience was spending endless nights by the lake with a bunch of friends with a barbecue and some music.
The weather is pretty fantastic in Freiburg, so expect to spend a great amount of time outside, lounging by the lake.

A beautiful winters day in Switzerland

Top tips

Be completely open to doing everything and anything!
Meet as many people as you can and say yes to every event, invitation, or day trip!
You won't regret any of it!
Make friends with your housemates, they'll end up being the greatest connections as they already know the locals, customs, tips and tricks.
Of course it can be daunting at times, but I promise 95% of the time you'll be too busy having a good time to think about home.
 

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