Summer 3rd year, 3 months internship,
Tübingen, Baden-Württemberg Germany
Though I didn’t formally take classes, I did sit in on lectures every week and other than a much greater prevalence of technology used by the teaching staff, there was not much difference. I can’t much speak on the workload of students but there seems to be a more ‘united’ and interactive student life at universities in Germany, where seemingly all of campus gets together for lunch, and the local parks are well loved in the evenings after lecture for lazy games of soccer and Frisbee or just laying around with friends and drinks.
I was very fortunate to have travelled quite a bit, visiting multiple locations in a few different countries during my short three months in Europe. If you set up your weekend trips based on the carshare options you’ll save loads! At first the transportation system might be confusing and daunting but just get your hands on a station map or schedule and you’ll be on your way in no time.
I did have some experiences where the person I was directly dealing with really could not understand me and I was equally as confused, but any time this happened, there was always at least one kind stranger who stopped to help translate. Being mentally bombarded with signage, ads, labels etc. in a foreign language is so exhausting at first, but just try to embrace it, learn what you can, and it does get easier as you go.
The benefits of studying abroad are innumerable! You experience new things, new people, new customs, new foods, new fashion – the works! When studying abroad it is so much easier to make friends because everyone is interested in why you are there, what you are doing, why you chose that country/region etc. The friendships and connections you make when you are totally out of your element are strange, fantastic and long lasting. Getting to explore somewhere new, with friends or alone is an enormous privilege and is unbelievably exciting- once you get back from your time abroad you will be dying to go back or to go somewhere new and relive the feeling and have more great experiences.
Travelling and being integrated so thoroughly in another culture has changed how I view not only cultures that are different to my own, but also it has made me very aware and made me think often about how my own culture is perceived by newcomers to Canada. I have grown in the sense that I was able to reach a whole other level of self-sufficiency and I am now much more at ease in groups of strangers or on my own in new situations.
I would definitely do it all over again; I can’t wait to be done my M.Sc. in order to pursue a career, hopefully in another country. My advice to anyone thinking about studying abroad will be to definitely go for it, it may seem daunting and scary to pack up your bags and ship yourself off to somewhere entirely new but you will not regret it. It is an amazing experience regardless of your destination and it is really worth it!