BArchDes, 3rd Year
BArchDes, 3rd Year

Academic experiences

I studied a design/studio course called 'Infrahabitation', in which our design challenge was to create inhabitable infrastructure.
It was very different to anything I had done previously at UQ, because in Germany (or at least at TU Architecture), it is very model-based and conceptual.
UQ is very technical in its approach to architecture, focusing on structure and the technologies/materials used within built form.
Both are great and interesting ways to approach architecture, and it was really advantageous towards my studies to experience both approaches!
Apart from my design course I studied 3 theory subjects, all of which were interesting.
A big challenge was the huge study load I had to undertake.
UQ has an exchange study load of 30ECTS, and most of the other students studying BArchDes at TU were only studying 15-20. So, this did make it more difficult to manage my time etc., however did not take away from the experience that much.

BBQ at Schalchtensee Lakes (Berlin) 10min walk from home

Personal experiences

Before going on exchange, I had never been to Europe.
And after completing my exchange I can say that it is simply incredible.
The huge amount of different cultures, languages, people, topography, landmarks - all so close together as well! (Compared to Australia of course!)
I spent one month travelling around Europe before I commenced my studies, 2 weeks of it I spent travelling alone.
At first it was daunting, but it was an amazing experience that I recommend to everyone going exchange.
Travel by yourself!!
You learn so much about yourself and how you react to different things - sure, you will be stressed at some points, but the amazing people you meet from all over the globe, swapping stories, going out at night in amazing cities/towns - it's all so worth it!
I never thought it, but getting lost in a new city is one of the most incredible experiences you can ever have.
E.g., got completely lost in Prague, spent a day wandering around and exploring the city.
Ended up in a monastery where the monks brew their own blessed beer!
I recommend it to everyone - The Strahov Monastic Brewery.

Me and Kara on the roof at Görlitzer Park (Berlin), May 1st

Accommodation

I lived off campus in a Studentendorf (in Schalchtensee, Berlin).
At first I didn't like commuting to uni most days, however after about a month I realised that it was amazing to get to travel through Berlin every day, there are so many hidden gems in the city that you would never see if you lived in the city centre.
I met some awesome mates in my accommodation and had heaps of fun.

Me in front of the Berlin Wall

Budget

Berlin is very cheap for a capital, and so I didn't worry too much about budgeting during my exchange.
However, travelling IS expensive!
Of course, it depends on where you go (for example, Prague and Budapest are so cheap it's almost comical!) But some places like London, Paris etc., are very expensive.
I guess you just have to be smart about your spending.
Don't have $100 nights out, try to cook your own meals when you can - simple things like that are great, and don't hurt your back pocket too much!

View from the top of the Eiffel Tower - speechless!

Academic development and employability

I feel as though it will greatly help, I've learned how to communicate better with others (especially others from different countries!), how to organise myself and how to manage my time between social and academic work.

Me and my mates in London

Highlight

Having never been to Europe before, I had no idea what the culture would be like, especially in Germany.
Here, when summer comes around - people change their moods incredibly, everyone is happy and outside, enjoying themselves.
On the 1st May (May Day), people here in Berlin (and throughout most of Europe) celebrate the coming of summer.
So me and all my friends headed to a park for a barbecue and some drinks - and were surprised when we saw about 50,000 people crowding this one park (Görlitzer Park).
Everyone was so happy to be out in the sun, there were live bands, street performers and artists, the vibe was awesome.
There was a small building on the edge of the park where a bar is situated inside.
I walked up to inspect the place, only to be swept up by a bunch of Germans that I had never met before.
None of them spoke English (and my German was pretty bad at this point), but they all put me on their shoulders and boosted me up to a fire escape ladder to which I then climbed up and onto the roof.
My friends were quick to follow, and soon were all sitting on the roof, basking in the sun, looking down on thousands of people having an awesome time and just loving life.
At that point in time, I couldn't believe how far I had come - the places I had seen and the people I had met.
That incredible moment encapsulated it all.

Top tips

- Travel alone (not for a long time, maybe a week or so) but definitely do it, it's so much fun and incredibly rewarding on a personal level.
- Manage your time.
When you go on exchange you'll meet a huge amount of people, all wanting to have an awesome time!
And trust me you will, but don't forget about your studies!
- Get out of, no, explode out of your comfort zone.
You'll be faced with some things that you'd never imagine yourself doing before going on exchange, but just do it!
You'll look back on those experience with incredible gratitude.
- Take pictures. Lots. Pretty self-explanatory!

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