Posted by: Students Worldwide
Published on: 19/07/2021Back to Blog
For languages students, a year abroad immersing in the target language(s) may be a compulsory aspect of the degree, but for most it is also the highlight of their time at university, if not a highlight of their whole life, and my 6 months spent living in Germany were no exception. By far the best time of my life was spent studying in Bamberg, a place that will always feel like home.
Why study abroad?
Getting to study in a different country is not only good for your language skills, but it’s also a great way to experience a new way of teaching and studying. Meeting people from across the world, who are also navigating life in a foreign country, is an incredible opportunity to broaden your horizons, become more open-minded, and make friends you otherwise would probably never have met, and knowing this pushed me to get out of my comfort zone and go abroad.
Culture shock? Sometimes, but not always!
Luckily, I experienced little culture shock, perhaps because my language skills were already quite good (although my German improved tenfold during my time in Bamberg!), so there wasn’t too much of a language barrier, however the speed at which natives speak is definitely challenging! Shops being closed on Sundays was frustrating, plus small talk is virtually non-existent, while recycling and data protection are taken very seriously! Sometimes adjusting can be difficult, so give yourself time to settle if you don’t feel at home straight away. Big life changes always take time to get used to and that’s OK.
University and social life
The beautiful town of Bamberg in Bavaria was the place I was lucky enough to call home in Germany, and I miss it every day. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, my lectures at the Otto-Friedrich-Universität were online, but the range of modules on offer was more varied than at my home university, so I was able to study niche areas of German culture and language and really hone my skills in a way that is only possible when you are living abroad, being immersed in the target culture.
I also participated in an in-person preparatory German language course for exchange students before the start of the semester. Here, I met students from countries all over the world, many of whom have become lifelong friends. Together, we explored Bamberg’s countless beauty spots and even enjoyed day trips visiting Würzburg, Bayreuth and Munich! The special people I met while studying abroad were by far the highlight of my whole experience. Bonding with people from cultures a world away from my own made us all realise we are not as different or as culture bound as we seem, and actually we can learn a lot from each other.
Thinking about studying abroad? Top tips!
As part of one of my courses, I had to write diary entries across the semester, noting differences between my home culture and German culture. Although this was part of the assessment for the module, it is something I would recommend doing anyway, as you can document and reflect on everyday experiences that you might otherwise forget about once you go home. Push yourself to try new things and be sociable, especially at the start, but also don’t be afraid to ask for help and support when you need it. There is no fool-proof guide to starting life in a new country and it can be scary as much as it is exciting, but be brave and have fun – a world of adventures awaits!
Credit – Vickie Houlihan