Bachelor of Communication/Arts and Diploma of Languages, 3rd year
Bachelor of Communication/Arts and Diploma of Languages, 3rd year

Academic Experiences 

While at LMU, I took subjects that would satisfy the advanced elective requirements for my Arts degree. This meant that I took two international relations subjects and four literature subjects, which added up to 30 ECTS credits. On top of that, I also took a German subject during the semester to improve my German, but I didn't get credit for that subject.

By UQ standards, six subjects is a lot of work, but the system at LMU is very different. Instead of having a lecture and tutorial for each subject, you either have just one two-hour lecture per week, or one two-hour tutorial per week. I personally found the workload a lot lighter than UQ, which gave me plenty of time to travel within Europe and explore Germany!

The biggest challenge was making sure that I had prepared for each subject every week, because even though the actual content wasn't that difficult, it could be confusing to keep track of so many subjects. Personally, LMU seemed quite disorganised (for example, telling me to speak to someone, then that person tells me to speak to someone else, and so on), it was very difficult to get in touch with lecturers and faculty staff because some don't reply to emails and there is very little use of online systems, meaning you have to spend a lot of time visiting different offices and lectures to even sort out simple issues like signing onto classes. Despite that, I found the actual course content really interesting and the lecturers very engaging - it was just the organisation of the uni as a whole that was very difficult to navigate for someone that didn't know how things worked. Also keep in mind that most assessment takes place at the end of the semester in the form of a 10-15 page essay or exam, rather than progressively through the semester like in Arts subjects at UQ. 

Personal Experiences

I made so many friendships while on exchange and those people have now become so important to me. When you're on exchange and everyone is away from their families, friends really do become like family! Especially when travelling, there can be high-pressure situations and a lot of stress, which has taught me about how to work with others better and become more adaptable and flexible. It was also a great opportunity to push myself out of my comfort zone and experience so many new things. My German improved dramatically, as did my cultural knowledge of several European countries.

Accommodation

There aren't colleges or apartments that are on-campus at LMU, so instead the student housing is spread out in different parts of the city. It's definitely the cheapest and best option in Munich. I lived in Olympiadorf, which was the athlete's village during the 1972 Olympics that were held in Munich, and I loved it. It was only 10 minutes away from university and surrounded by a big park. You will either get an apartment or a bungalow, which is what I had. These are completely self-contained and you don't have to share facilities with anyone. There are obviously positives and negatives to living alone, but all the other bungalows and apartments are also rented by students, so it's not hard to make friends! Personally, I liked having my own space and the bungalows are small and basic but in good condition. The only issue with living alone was that you aren't provided with any cutlery, sheets, pillows, couches and that kind of thing, so I'd recommend moving in early enough so that you have time to get all that stuff together before starting uni.

Budget 

My friends from other parts of Europe said that Munich seemed very expensive to them, but I didn't think so compared to Australia. My rent was approximately 350 Euro per month, but people that didn't get student accommodation were paying 500-600 a month, so that makes a huge difference as to what you need to budget. Food and drinks while out are cheaper than Australia, and I was spending about 50 Euro a week or less on groceries. When you get to Munich and have your German student card, you can buy an unlimited transport ticket (buses, trams, trains) for 152 Euro for a semester. This is a big cost outright, but saves you so much money in the long run. There are also a lot of costs you might not expect, such as the bond for where you live and a compulsory payment of 80 Euro a month for health insurance (UQ health insurance isn't sufficient in Germany). How much you budget will be impacted significantly by how much you want to go to restaurants and bars and how much you want to travel, so it's difficult to put a number on it. I think I spent about $15,000 but this included travelling before and after the semester and then 10+ overseas trips during the semester, so it could be done for cheaper.

Academic development and employability

Exchange pushes you to do so many things that are out of your comfort zone, which has made me a much more confident and assertive person. Public speaking used to bother me, but after having to present speeches in German while on exchange, the thought of public speaking in English seems so easy now. I've become a lot more independent and organised, because having to do things like open bank accounts and get residence visas forces you to be! I have no doubt that all of these are qualities that will help me professionally, and I feel much more prepared for internships and eventually full-time work now that I've been on exchange.

Highlight

The highlight of my experience was the opportunity to travel and meet people from around the world. I now have friends from Italy, Sweden, the UK, the Czech Republic, Finland, Slovakia and all around Australia! I also loved having the opportunity to improve my language skills and see what it would be like to live in Germany. I absolutely loved Munich and would love to move back here more permanently one day!

Top Tips

I would highly recommend going on exchange! It's really a once in a lifetime opportunity, and the amazing moments more make up for the stressful/scary/nervous moments along the way. If you want to improve your language skills, there's nothing better you can do! Just don't be afraid to make mistakes. I had plenty of embarrassing moments when speaking German, but it has improved so much and my only regret is being nervous about using my German during the first few months and not using it more.

If you don't speak German and aren't planning on learning, my advice would be to seriously consider if Germany is the best option for you. My German was intermediate and I still found it challenging. Not everyone speaks English - in an emergency, speaking only English will not be an issue, but it's in the every day little things (e.g. not being able to read menus or understand signs) that it gets very inconvenient and frustrating.

I cannot recommend highly enough the preparation course that is offered in conjunction with LMU during the month of September, prior to beginning uni in October. They offer classes at all levels, and the teachers are excellent. I met all of the people that ended up being my close friends in that course, and you get to know people really well because you are spending five days a week with them. If you don't do this course, you have to put in a lot of effort to integrate later.

There is the stereotype of Germans being super efficient, but it's so inaccurate! You have to fill out lots of paperwork, but this doesn't make their processes any faster or more efficient. Expect to spend a lot of time waiting to speak to lecturers and when registering your address.

If you are going in the second semester, make the most of summer! You'll arrive towards the end of summer but the weather will still be fairly warm and sunny. Make sure to visit the English Gardens, as this is where a lot of students spend their time in summer. It is also beautiful there in autumn when the leaves are changing colour and in winter when it snows. Munich is a great city - Asam Church near Sendlinger Tor was my favourite church, and look for Japanese places that advertise 'running sushi'. For 10-15 Euro (depending where you go), you get all-you-can-eat sushi train. I think my friends and I tried every running sushi place in Munich!

Germans love Australians, and so do most Europeans, so expect lots of questions about Australia! Australia is a popular place for Germans to spend their gap years and all the Germans I met that hadn't been to Australia were desperate to visit.

Apart from that, just travel as much as possible

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