My exchange to Berlin in Semester 1 of 2012 was easily the best thing I’ve done while at uni. By extension this means it’s probably the best thing I’ve ever done. It’s difficult to describe why it’s so awesome, but I’ll give it a go.

I went to Berlin intending to study German language at the Technical University of Berlin as part of a Diploma of Language (3rd year courses). I had a few problems sorting out the courses once I got there (the language school was separate to the rest of the uni), so I ended up studying mainly courses related to my actual degree in mechanical engineering (4th year courses). It was a bit of a struggle but I really enjoyed it- I found that the uni a bit of a different way of approaching engineering, which is always interesting to see. Uni in general is quite different- there’s a lot of paper work rather than online sign-ons- but there are always people who are happy to help you out, as long as you are willing to ask.

For me I think the coolest thing about exchange was getting to meet people from all around the world. In the pre- semester intensive language course alone I met people from Norway, Switzerland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Hungary, China, Poland, Italy, France, Spain, Sweden, Brazil, Greece and the Netherlands. Most of them stayed friends for the whole exchange- definitely do one of these courses if you get the chance. It’s quite a cool thing to have a bunch of random people from 15 different countries all speaking and learning the same foreign language, not something that usually happens for us as English speakers.

My 5 top tips:

  • Disregard all advice given to you- including my other 4 points. You’ll figure everything out for yourself pretty quickly.
  • Try and be a bit flexible with your courses. When I got to German I found out I could only do one language course instead of the four in my study plan, I know of other courses that were cancelled right before the semester started for one reason or another- if you can have a few backup options that’s probably best.
  • Take a decent rain jacket.
  • Best pretzels are made by Ditsch, they are all around the city. Cost: 0.65 €. Eat lots.
  • Organize travel early if you want to go away for weekends etc. I didn’t and as a result didn’t travel too much. Particularly with Deutsche Bahn trains it’s much cheaper if you book earlier than a month in advance. Also keep an eye out for a website called www.mitfahrgelegenheit.de, it’s basically where people list if they’re driving somewhere and have empty seats in the car, you can go pretty much anywhere in Germany for 20-30 €

Overall, a really worthwhile experience, definitely worth the little bit of effort you have to put in to get there. Good luck!

 

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