As a fifth year law/economics student, I had always put the European exchange experience on a pedestal but what I experienced exceeded all expectations. If you like cheap beer (beer is cheaper than water in Germany and water is never free), polite people, gorgeous winters and Oktoberfest– then Germany is the place for you! Hamburg is Germany’s biggest secret treasure; with pretty buildings centred on a gorgeous lake and a cool city vibe, an outrageous nightlife and a cheap yet quality dining culture. It has all this without the hordes of tourists. Hamburg has so much to offer, for example, my most memorable weekend in Hamburg included ice-skating, a visit to the Dom (the Hamburg fun fair), karaoke in a Thai bar, a visit to the Winterhude markets, a sushi night at our Colombian friends’ place and an American thanksgiving on Sunday. On top of this, Bucerius Law School is prestigious and well-connected and you will find yourself studying with some of the most intelligent students from top universities.
I can guarantee you that no other exchange program will run as efficiently as the one offered by Bucerius Law school. While I was unsure about what a private law school would be like – Bucerius Law School offered everything; a beautiful campus, an interesting and well administered education, an extremely social atmosphere and events to help you integrate with the locals.
My apartment was not only adorable but cheaper than living in Australia (at 375 euros per month), situated in Barmbek-süd. Even though it took 35 minutes from the Law School by train the area was one of the nicest places to live and provided me with the opportunity to make one of the closest friends I made on exchange - an Israeli girl who practically lived next door. I was also lucky enough to go on exchange with a close friend who doubled as a housemate, so don’t be afraid to go with a friend and share the exchange experience – it can be extremely rewarding and you will never miss the Australian accent! You will however have trouble finding a place straight of the bat so start straight away, be patient and ask Bucerius Law School students coming to UQ if they have friends who are willing to rent their place which is what we did. If you prefer to live in the dormitories, aim to get a spot at Berliner-Tor and not Kiwittsmoor which is a greater distance away from the city centre and the law school.
Take the opportunity to get to know the other hundred different cultures of the people also on exchange as traveling with locals is the best way to travel. Australia also has a reputation abroad as a great place to visit, so don’t forget what you have to offer in exchange. The pleasantness of your exchange experience is half dependent on the place you choose and half on how much you embrace the lifestyle. Somehow in the past five months I have been lucky enough to throw tomatoes in La Tomatina, play in a Spanish/Australian girl band (our audience being our fellow international exchange students), dance in a dirndl at Oktoberfest , snowboard and holiday in a ski hut in Bavaria with some Germans, visit the Holy Land with my closest friends, see Spain, Greece, Turkey, Poland - all with a local guide and went ‘around the Sound’ in Sweden in two days, eating a homecooked meal of Swedish meatballs and moose stew. This is just a small sample of the trip.
The biggest challenge about going to Hamburg is that you won’t want to leave! Here is a video of the Bucerius Internationals trying to say our heartfelt goodbyes to one another - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ooqUACZR3m4 .


Some quick tips:

  • Use the Skyscanner website to book cheap flights in Europe.
  • When travelling around Germany you will find that trains are pretty expensive, use Google translate to navigate Mitfarhgelegenheit (don’t worry, it gets easier to pronounce) –a carpooling service that is a cheaper alternative.
  • Book Oktoberfest way in advance.
  • If you play music or want to do some extra-curricular activities – take advantage of the resources available at Bucerius Law School such as the music room.
  • Get your Hamburg residency card as quickly as possible – as an EU student, you will get free entry to major tourist attractions in major European cities such as the Louvre in Paris.
  • Go on the Bucerius Law School organised Berlin trip. It is a great way to really get to know your fellow exchange students and the cheapest way to spend a week travelling.
  • Copenhagen is a four hour drive from Hamburg – budget it well because even driving there is still more expensive than you think, however the visit is worth it.
  • Party at the Reeperbahn and stay out until the morning fish market.
  • Everyone speaks English but try to learn the language – the school offers a course for different levels.
  • You will have an option to join a buddy family which you should sign up to – there’s nothing like having two ‘German dads’ and ours gave us a tour at the Hamburg town hall, a sneak peak into local politics and provided us with chocolate tasting.
  • Take the negotiation course – it is very informative, engaging, intensive as well as practical.
  • Go on the organised Malente trip and ask to pay when you arrive in Germany – the international transfer fee is more expensive than the cost of the place itself.
     

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