Bachelor of Science, 3rd year
Bachelor of Science, 3rd year

Academic Experiences 

I participated in the pre-semester intensive language course (Deutsch Kompakt Kurs), which was worth 10 ECTS. During semester I took 2 elective German courses through the ‘German as a foreign language’ faculty (ADaF) and 2 biology subjects (in English). Looking back I wish I’d also done a non-ADaF course instructed in German, as it would have been a great challenge, significantly helped my language skills and given me the opportunity to meet more locals.

The study system in Germany is quite different and focuses much more on self-directive learning with very little continuous assessment. I only had 1-2 assessment pieces per subject, which was great for the exchange lifestyle.

A difficulty was navigating the Tübingen websites and finding course information, which was often not provided – my advice for this is to email the Exchange Student Coordinator or professors but also don’t worry, as you can finalise a lot of it once you have arrived.

Personal Experiences

Definitely one of the most valuable things I’ve gained is my network of international friends and knowledge about their countries and different cultures. Some of my most rewarding experiences were simply spending time with roommates and having picnics in the park with friends.

Also, I really enjoyed exploring the surrounding area, whether it was the fields, hills and forests only 10 minutes out of the town centre or hiking trips to nearby castles and waterfalls. Tübingen’s location also meant great travel possibilities into neighbouring countries - for us Australians, a day trip to France or Switzerland is a pretty exciting experience.

Accommodation

I was very lucky and lived in the city centre in student accommodation (‘Prinz Karl’), mostly with other internationals. I had my own room but shared kitchen and bathrooms. I would strongly recommend trying for a place in the town centre (apply early!), or if not then the French quarter also has a good location and student community. The accommodation costs vary depending on where you stay, but a room in a student residence (‘Wohnheim’) is generally 200-300 Euros/month, i.e. very reasonable. Finding a single, self-catered apartment can be more difficult and expensive.

Budget 

Overall an exchange in Germany can be quite inexpensive, with most things being cheaper than in Australia. Tübingen is a very green, eco-friendly town and therefore some of the (organic/bio) groceries can be pricier, however you can also opt for cheap products at the big chain supermarkets (REWE and Kaufland are the most popular). Many students eat lunch at the cafeteria (‘Mensa’), where the standard daily meal costs ~3 Euros. Beer and other drinks are very cheap compared to Australia.

Transport is really good value as students can get an 85 Euro semester ticket, which is also valid in the surrounding area. Also, Europe has great budget bus and train connections/ group deals, so travelling can be very cheap if you plan ahead.

I was also lucky enough to have a scholarship from the German state government (Baden Württemberg Stipendium), so this helped out a lot. I’d say a $10 000 budget is very reasonable, depending on how much you travel.

Academic development and employability

My main motivation for studying abroad in Germany was to learn the language and I can happily say that my conversational German has improved immensely. Just living and breathing German for 5 months was really better than my 6 years of German in Australia.

It is inevitable that time abroad will also make you more independent, confident, capable and globally aware. Other less expected skills I obtained are spontaneity, open-mindedness and willingness to take every opportunity that presents itself.

Highlight

It’s so hard to pick one highlight when I had so many great experiences jammed into 6 months. Obviously one of the best things was travelling and seeing so many new places in Europe. However within Tübingen itself, my highlight was the pre-semester language course. Aside from the credit point benefits, the course was where I met some of my best friends, improved my German and learnt about the country. They also organise excursions and help heaps with the bureaucracy of university registrations.

Also, the European Football Championship brought such a crazy, fun atmosphere to the whole city and continent and I loved watching the games with everyone!

Top Tips

The first thing I want to say is be careful with your expectations. So many people will say that exchange is the best experience of their life, and whilst this may be true, it’s almost important to realise there will be both ups and downs. Going in with too high expectations can sometimes lead to disappointment. Just be broadminded, willing and brave and make the most of the things you are able to do. Often you only realise how amazing and valuable moments were when you reflect on them.

More specific tips for Tübingen:
• Apply for the Baden-Württemberg Scholarship (Stipendium) – aside from the financial benefit (500 Euro/month!), the foundation also has a close network of international students and organises great (+ cost-free) activities for you to do together. Also, scholarship recipients can apply to live in the Prinz Karl dormitory, which I strongly recommend
• Learn/ improve German – for me, Tübingen was the perfect place to do this. Do the Deutsch Kompakt Kurs and try to talk as much German as you can. It can be scary but it’s really worth it.
• Unlike Australia, German Universities generally don’t offer many clubs/ societies, however there’s a University sport programme (Hochschulsport) with basically any sport or fitness class you can imagine. Sign up is very competitive so get in early
• Don’t just travel – make sure you spend enough time getting to know Tübingen and the nearby area, as this is a unique opportunity an exchange offers
• Do the typical ‘tourist things’ in Tübingen throughout semester. Don’t leave it all til the last week! E.g. punt boat (Stockerkahnfahrt), church tower (Stiftskirche, only 50c), the castle, city museum

Finally, please feel free to contact me (anna.meehan@uq.net.au) if you have any questions, I would be more than happy to help answer them. Have fun!

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