Bachelor of Engineering/Commerce
Bachelor of Engineering/Commerce

 Program: Engineering/Commerce, Semester 1, 3rd Year, 2014

I spent the summer semester at TU Berlin during the first half of my third year and can honestly not imagine a better exchange experience.

The great thing about exchange is that you get the opportunity to experience an entirely new university culture and system on the other side of the globe. For instance, I found the engineering subjects to be more hands-on and team-project based, and I could therefore interact with local German students. I found the content relatively advanced, yet learned things from world-class professors that I could not have learned at any other university. I ended up taking 6 courses - 5 software engineering related and a German course – some were worth more credit weighting than others. In terms of university life, one of the best and most spontaneous decisions I made was to join Ultimate Frisbee at TU. It’s more fun and intense than you’d think, and is also another great way to mix with the locals and get more exposure to the German language. The international office at TU also organises events to help you get to know your fellow international students like canoeing, volleyball, walking tours, concerts and bar nights just to name a few. Keep track of these events and join as many as you can!

After many unsuccessful emails on WG-gesucht.de, I decided to ditch the plan to get a share house and go with a student dorm and I do not regret the decision. The dorm I was placed in, called Siegmunds Hof, is admittedly not the most modern or newly renovated option, however was only about 200 euros a month, a 10 minute walk to TU and above all, meant I was placed in the thick of social events and met people from all over the globe! You’ll need to get a German bank account to live in the dorms and for that I’d recommend Sparkasse – the ATMs and branches are conveniently scattered throughout the city.

The best thing about exchange was meeting all the incredible people I met and forming life-long friendships. The next best thing was being able to share some unforgettable experiences with them in the amazing, creative, spontaneous and slightly quirky city that is Berlin. If you’re lucky enough to witness the “poor but sexy” city transform in the summer time, here’s what I’d recommend:
• Out and about: Mauerpark on Sundays, grilling/picnicking on Tempelhof, Kreuzberg on May 1st, Karnivale der Kulturen, Fanmile during the World Cup, the free alternative walking tour
• Abandoned Berlin: Teufelsberg, Spreepark, the Iraqi embassy,
• Clubs/bars: Stadtbad, Café Luzia, Dr. Pong, Open Airs at M.I.K.Z, Klunkerkranich
• Food/coffee: Döner at Hasir Restaurant, great coffee and good reads at westberlin

By the end of 6 months, I’ve learned how to live independently in a beautifully bureaucratic city, can say ‘nice to meet you’ in 9 different languages and discovered that there’s so much out there to be excited about.

 

Some extra tips:
• A bike is a worthwhile investment – Berlin is a city made for cyclists
• Other cultures love to learn the Nut Bush
• A deck of cards will always come in handy
• Allow for things to not always go to plan e.g. be prepared to re-book a missed train or an extra night in a hostel. Spontaneity can also be fun!
• Although I felt safer going around in Berlin than I do in Brisbane, I’ve also heard some horror stories about labyrinths of clubs like Berghain – keep friends close and watch your drink.
• Because their semester dates don’t line up nicely with ours, try to prepare for exams earlier than usual since you might find yourself taking them as soon as the lecture period finishes in order to fly back in time for UQ’s next semester.
• Be prepared to have your courses deviate from your pre-approved study plan. When courses clash, you may have to find another one, since most lectures aren’t recorded (I know).
• Take advantage of what’s out there. Berlin is a start-up and entrepreneurial hub, and TUB encourages this with several courses and workshops. I also took part in a front-end development meet-up called UpFront where I not only met and networked with designers, developers and future start-up founders, I also learned a lot about current trends in technology in Berlin and around the world.

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