Bachelor of Engineering/Arts - final year
Bachelor of Engineering/Arts - final year

Academic experiences

One of the great things about TUM is that there is a large and diverse range of courses in any field that appeals to you.
I selected all Masters-level courses (in English) from both the Mechanical and Physics faculties, mainly focused around my particular field of interest, renewable energy technology (although I also did ‘Introduction to astroparticle physics’ because it’s awesome!).
I loved studying these subjects in depth, as many of these topics are not covered in UQ courses, and I was taught by many inspiring professors who are experts in their fields.
What was very different from studying back home was that my courses were very much based on conceptual understanding, as opposed to quantitative processes (this is probably not the case for the fundamental Mech Eng courses, though).
I had no assessment whatsoever during the semester, but there was a lot of content to remember for the final exams.
I found the oral exams to be less stressful than the written exams.
Make sure you write very quickly in the written exams, particularly for the one hour exams (and a tip from my housemate: get to uni early so your fingers can defrost!).
Classes end at the end of January, but exams can continue until the end of March (which is quite common for Mech Eng).
It’s generally possible to arrange early exams if you want to leave in time for UQ semester one, the professors are pretty flexible.

Australian ‘Länderabend’, where international students cook their traditional cuisine for others to sample – for free!

Personal experiences

My semester at the TUM was filled with unique opportunities, new experiences and good times with great friends.
I think it has enriched my life in every possible facet.
Academically, I learned so much about my chosen subjects, which has given me a new perspective about what I want to do after uni, and I was additionally able to gain work experience.
I got to explore a lot of southern Germany and went on a huge trip through the neighbouring countries over the Christmas break - this part of Europe is the place to be if you love castles, palaces and fortresses.
I saw at least a dozen and I'm not sick of them yet!
Even though I took English courses, I still spoke German all the time during day to day conversations, talking to my friends and at the TUMi Sprachencafe, so my language skills improved immensely. Finally, I met some wonderful people who made my time in Munich even more amazing.

The beautiful Königssee

Accommodation

As with all UQ students (excepting Architecture students), I was reserved a room in one of the complexes run by Studentenwerk München.
I had my own large room and shared a bathroom, kitchen and living room with 9 others in one of the small, two-storey houses in Studentenstadt.
The facilities don’t really cater to 10 people, but half of the residents were never home anyway. Studentenstadt has numerous student-run bars and bistros, and it’s a great place to catch up with friends.
Due to its cheap rent (and nice atmosphere), rooms there are highly sought-after by German and international students.
Perhaps due to this situation, the administration does not conduct regular house inspections, so be aware that when you move in, the cleanliness of common areas will depend solely on the previous occupants.
I wasn't able to move into my room until the 1st of October, which is only a few days before winter semester classes begin, so be aware of that if you want to do the pre-semester intensive German course.

Budget

My rental costs were 269 euros a month in Studentenstadt, but from what I heard renting in a privately-owned property can cost up to 500 euros.
You can save money by shopping at discount supermarkets like Aldi, I tended to go for better variety at Edeka (at a higher cost).
Eating out in restaurants is on the expensive side, but eating in the Mensa (student cafeterias: I recommend the one in TUM's inner city campus over Garching) and at the student bars in Studentenstadt is very cheap.
For transport, definitely buy the IsarCard Semester for about 150 euros: this is valid within the entire Munich network for the whole semester.
You don't have to spend a lot of money to have a good time - the student bars are very inexpensive and you can take advantage of free offers, such as free theatre tickets for TUM students.
Both TUM international and the Studentenwerk offer heaps of affordable excursions: you just have to plan to drop by their offices to pay in advance and get in quick (these commence in early September).
The excursions run by the Erasmus student groups are fewer but super convenient: just rock up and pay on the day.
As for travel, Munich is a great central location for exploring the rest of Germany (and Europe).
For travelling within Bayern, get a couple of friends and split the costs of the Bayern ticket, which makes the regional trains super affordable.
For travelling interstate (and also outside the country), buses are inexpensive if you don't mind a long trip.
Travelling interstate with the IC trains is very comfy and convenient but it's really pricey (no discounts unless you're a frequent traveller).

Englischer Garten

Academic development and employability

Because I had a lighter course load (the equivalent of three UQ subjects because I was in my final semester), I took on a part-time job analysing transmission grid data as a student employee at an energy research centre.
This was a great experience and I highly recommend you apply for an internship/part-time role if you have the time!
TUM provided me with a lot of support with advice and resume checks.
By the way, it seems to be infinitely easier to gain Engineering work experience in Germany (particularly if you’re proficient in German) than in Australia.

Studentenstadt's Red House bar, my second home

Highlight

February is a great time to be in Munich because of Fasching (aka carnival): there are huge parties to celebrate and crazy costumes are compulsory.
When else will you see German men dressed up as Sailor Moon!?
Make sure you try some (or all) of the Faschingskrapfen (donuts with delicious fillings): the bakery at TUM Garching between Informatik and Maschinenwesen is awesome!

Top tips

I think planning an exchange for engineering students can be pretty tricky, so I recommend thinking about it early in your degree, and definitely keep electives in mind.
It’s an unforgettable experience.
You can travel at lots of stages of your life, but exchange provides you with the unique experience of living as a local in a foreign country.
 

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