My exchange program was in my last semester as a student at UQ where I am currently enrolled in a Masters of International Economics and Finance. At the LMU, I studied courses in both the Business Administration (BWL) and Economics (VWL) faculties.

Tip number 1: Do an orientation course. It had been a while since I had studied German, so I did the shorter orientation course before the official semester started. The course helped to orientate us in the city before the official start of the semester and we got to know fellow exchange students and consequently tackled the administrative nightmare together. For students who have studied German, make sure you refresh your grammar before undertaking the placement test for the orientation course. Students had problems with their placement course as they were put in courses that were too easy for them.

Tip number 2: In regards to enrolling for subjects, email the lecturers first to register for their classes (for some courses registering is a requirement – as well as for exams), as the main challenge of studying at LMU was that it was administratively decentralised and exchange students can’t logon using the online portal. There is information at a faculty, institute and subject level which differs depending on who is it that you are talking to. Information was not readily available, so during the first weeks, there was a lot of emailing to find out what was going on. However, this process allowed you to bond quicker with other students. There are also subjects that are offered as block courses and then normal semester courses, so keep an eye out for those on institute websites.

Tip number 3: Specify in your exchange application to LMU for a particular StudentenWerk Accommodation location (even though the form says preferences are not guaranteed). If you want your own space, including bathroom and kitchen area, Olydorf or Studentenstadt is the best option. If you are after location, Marie-Antonie-Haus is directly behind the main buildings of LMU, however you will be sharing the bathrooms and kitchen with approximately 14 people on your floor.

Accommodation in Germany in the StudentenWerk Accommodation was less than 300 Euros per month. As a student you have access to cheaper travel in Munich that is no more than 45 Euros a month. Groceries are quite cheap in Germany and if you are keen on cooking all of your own meals, you probably do not need to spend more than 50 Euros a week. There are also cheap places to eat out around the university area that are frequented a lot by students (less than 10 Euros) plus Mensa – which is a student cafeteria for lunch which is about 6 euros max per meal.

Tip number 4: Participate in exchange student events. MESA (a student run exchange organisation) often organise trips and parties at a very low cost. My friends and I went to a ski weekend organised by MESA and it was one of the best weekends we had together! We also did day trips with this group, which were also fun, and a great way to meet other people.

Tip number 5: Get to know German students as well and try to get them to practice German with you because you’ll get into the rut of speaking English to your friends. I also participated in a German course that was two nights a week so that I was practicing some German. I wish that I had spent more time speaking German with my German friends, however they were keener to speak English!

Last bit of advice: Travel as much as you can. I was lucky and I spent some time in Switzerland, Hungary and Austria on my free weekends with other exchange students and others that I knew that were living in Europe. In Germany, if you want to travel on weekends within the state, there is a Länder ticket (named after your state) which is approximately 22 Euros per person, however the more people you go with the cheaper your ticket is. There is also the option of purchasing a BahnCard25 but it is approximately 60 Euros for the year with 25% discount of rail tickets. However if you purchase your tickets in advance (more than 2 weeks usually – sometimes you might be able to still get them 4 days before your trip) then you will get a much cheaper price and you won’t need the BahnCard25.

Lastly… If you can, do two semesters on exchange..! Four and half months in Germany went really quickly as an exchange student as there is a lot to do (study and otherwise). If you have any further questions, feel free to contact me, as I will impart as much knowledge as I can to you…! Enjoy your time in Germany!
 

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