Bachelor of Arts
Bachelor of Arts

Guten Tag!

When asked to sum up my exchange to Germany in a mere five-hundred words or so, I pondered on what in particular I should like to share to prospective exchangers who are curious about what the whole experience might entail. As my introspective list grew, I realised that to adequately describe the extent of how valuable and life-changing my experience was, would be almost as easy as, say... staying away from Beer at Oktoberfest in Munich.

on Am Sande, the main street of the City

And while sobriety might have been an issue for me when I was festively feasting upon the Oktoberfest ...cheer... in Munich, I can assure you I was able to keep a level head as I explored many other great cities in Germany; Berlin, Hamburg, Dresden and Leipzig, as well as those in the greater scope of Europe: Florence, Rome, Venice, Salzburg, Prague, Amsterdam and London, and not forgetting Scandinavia (or their ski-hills) in Sweden and Norway. To have these incredible places practically at my doorstep was absolutely fantastic, and each one these travels was an exciting, adventurous and culturally enriching experience.

But even so, at the end of the year, I left my heart in Lüneburg....

At the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin

I put my eventual arrival in this quaint North German city down to luck. Luck that owed (for once) to my status as poor Uni student; my search for a Host University depended solely on scholarships, and Leuphana Universität in Lüneburg is one of few that has one on offer. Little did I know as I wrote the city neatly on the dotted line as my number one choice, that I was choosing the oldest and most preserved city in the entire country (the only that was untouched by bombs in the Second World War). I still remember the very moment I first saw the cobblestoned main street of the city, I stood in the sort of shocked awe that you don’t expect actually happens in real life until it happens to you firsthand.

I studied at Leuphana in my Second year as a Bachelor of Arts student, with the main prerogative of improving my skills in the German language. I quickly discovered that Leuphana has an excellent language learning system; and that because of this, my handle on the language improved beyond anything I could have imagined. They have an incredible amount of ‘German as foreign language’ subjects for every level and their German professors are so kind and patient; some of the best I have ever encountered.

With other exchange students at the Berlin Wall

What I had not really thought through before my exchange, was the fun I would have just living a life on my own in a completely different country, to experience it as a temporary resident rather than as a tourist is certainly something special. Probably what I will remember the most is the new people I met and the diversity of culture I experienced. By the end of the semester I had forged a close group of friends and together we comprised eight different countries: USA, Peru, Italy, England, Mexico, France and of course, Germany. I still keep in touch with these people to this day!

Top Tips!

  • Get a bike. I can’t stress this point enough! Who needs a car when every destination within the small town can be reached with pedal power in under 20 minutes? With all this Bier and Brezel you will no doubt be feeding yourself at an almost daily consumption rate, it probably serves more than just an environmental advantage ... You can pick up one at a reasonable price at a bike auction for about 40 Euro (don’t go buying one brand new).
  • Also regarding to travel, be aware you don’t need to take the ICE/IC high speed trains. Tickets are much more expensive than going by a bus service such as “Meinfernbus” (although, admittedly, a little less comfortable) or there is also car sharing (“blabla car”) where, with a little luck, you could be cruisin’ in a brand new Audi at 250kkm/h along the Autobahn.... In instances when you need to go by the train, the earlier you book, the cheaper it is!!
  • Lastly, if you’re into music festivals, make it a priority to attend the annual “Hurricane Festival”. Despite everything I have done in the past year, I would still rate the three day music festival as one of my highlight events. It’s a lot different to most festivals in Aus – it’s a three days and everyone camps in tents and brings their own beer (be prepared to be drinking it for breakfast).
  • Anyway, I have far outdone the 500 word guideline... But I hope that means I have somewhat managed to show you that for me, a student exchange has been the most rewarding thing I have done in my degree and life so far. I couldn’t write how good it was in a thousand words. If you’re considering it, I sincerely hope you do it. Don’t think about it too much, just go. Keep an open mind and enjoy the opportunities that life is offering you!
Pictures:
  • on Am Sande, the main street of the City
  • At The Bradenburg gate, Berlin
  • With the other exchange students at the Berlin wall

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