Bachelor of Arts
Bachelor of Arts

Academic experiences

I participated in two tutorials for ERASMUS students called Deutsche Popkultur und die Wiedervereinigung (German pop culture and the reunification) and Landeskunde Aktuell (contemporary regional and culture studies).
I also did linguistics courses in the English department: Psycholinguistics, Standard English and Historical Pragmatics.
Additionally, I participated in a course from the theatre department called Körpertraining 1 (body training).
I found it challenging to adjust to the new academic system and the way things were done at the uni. It did not feel like a very well structured system at uni, but eventually I got the hang of things.
The grading system was a little weird (they seemed to be using three different ways of grading). What I liked the most was how friendly my lecturers and fellow students were.
If I had any questions they would try their best to answer, but at times it was very difficult to get the information I was looking for and needed.
The process of getting the documents I needed for credit transfer at the end of the semester was very confusing.

Giessen shopping street

Personal experiences

I met so many wonderful people in Giessen and I had a great apartment in the city centre. I participated in the intensive German summer course they have before the semester starts, and it was such a great way to get to know Giessen and fellow exchange students.
I really liked the summer course and it really helped me improve my German, as the course was very interactive and with little focus on grammar.
I feel like I have become even more independent and confident than before and I learnt a lot more about myself.

Accommodation

In the first few months I lived in a student dorm and it was very bad. I was probably just very unlucky with the corridor I was living in, because my friends had much better places.
The bedroom itself was not too bad, but the bed only had a very thin mattress that was very uncomfortable and the furnishing was very old.
I was surprised that I had to pay the same amount per month as my friend who was living in a newly renovated building that had hotel standards compared to the building I was in.
Because of this I decided to look for another place, and I found an apartment in the city centre that I had to myself. It was more expensive than the dorm, but it was totally worth it. It also took a while to find a new place, as there were so many students moving around at the time.

Group selfie in front of the Cologne Cathedral (that is way to big to fit in a photo!)

Budget

The cost of living is very inexpensive in Germany compared to Australia, so that was great! And I did not spend anything on public transport after I got my student ID, as it works as a semester ticket for public transport in the region (you get this when you pay the semester fee).
Going grocery shopping is also very inexpensive compared to Australia. You get so much more for the same amount of money and I was therefore able to spoil myself a little and cook better meals than normal. I would say my grocery spending per week was somewhere around $50.
For rent I paid about $670 per month for my own apartment in the city centre (main shopping street) and that was with all the utilities included. The apartment was fully furnished so I had everything I needed.
I recommend to make a temporary budget for the first few weeks just to see how much you actually spend (you might be surprised), and then later look over your expenses and then design the budget the way you want it to be, focusing on the points that are important to you.
To me this was being able to spoil myself by cooking at home, having friends over for dinner, but also going out for dinner and drinks with friends.

Academic development and employability

From my studies abroad I have gained a greater cultural awareness and communication skills through my meetings with people from so many different and exciting cultures. I have also developed important problem solving, planning and organising skills through the process of finding the host university with the right courses relevant to my studies and interests and through the planning and organising of my stay abroad.
I have also learnt that it is very important to be proud of yourself and acknowledge the great (small) things you accomplish daily in order to grow as a person.
Meaning, that living in a foreign country with a different culture, communicating in another language on a daily basis, making important decisions in your personal and professional life, being independent and planning your future, have been important challenges to reflect upon and learn from.

A visit to the local brewery (Licher Bier). Free beer, pretzels and sausages!

Highlight

I am so lucky to have met such great and awesome people during my stay in Giessen.
They made my whole study abroad experience greater than I ever imagined.
I have made new, lifelong friendships and for that I am forever grateful and it is definitely the highlight of my experience.

Top tips

GO FOR IT! I cannot think of a single reason why not to go on an exchange.
You learn so much about yourself, the country you go to and the people you meet and it is an experience of a life time!
But I think it is important to say that everything does not always go as planned (there are always ups and downs!), but in those moments stay positive and do the best you can.
It definitely helps to talk to your friends or someone at the university about any difficulties you have.
When you are abroad I think it is also important to keep in mind that "It's not wrong, it's just different".
 

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