April 23, 2015, by Rachel Bainbridge
I’m the first in my family to live abroad
Although I have lived in England for 13 years, I come from a Ukrainian family, and as we don’t have a similar programme in Ukraine, I’m the first in my family to go live abroad. During the summer, everyone kept asking me if I was worried about living abroad, away from my family for such a long time? Or whether I was worried about studying in German? To tell the truth, I wasn’t at all worried, because I knew that thousands of students have done a year abroad in the past, and therefore I was sure that I would get all the support that I needed. I was excited to experience it myself.
Looking back, I guess I thought that Germany would be similar to England, and that their culture wouldn’t differ that much from the English, but in reality it does differ. Having arrived, and found the accommodation, I had to find the accommodation Rep myself, as there was no reception as in English Halls of residence. In fact they don’t have any halls, but a list of different houses throughout the city, which all belong to one accommodation company. I live in a flat of six people, half of whom are Germans. Expecting the rooms themselves to be like those in England, I was surprised to find that my room is much bigger than those back home. Everything was clean, and although I found that with only one dim light on the ceiling, there wasn’t enough light to study, and most students bought additional lamps. On the other hand, as some students live in the same room for two or three years, this means that they accumulate things like cutlery, plates and kitchen utensils, which I find much better than in England, as every year students who move into the flat must buy their own things, and then throw them away/sell at the end of the year, which isn’t as efficient. This didn’t raise any problems for me as my parents took everything that I didn’t need back with them, but if you’re flying to your destination I recommend that you get in touch with your future flatmates and ask if there’s anything that you won’t need to bring.
Welcome week, was also very different from what I expected as there was a fresher’s fair, but it was much smaller than in Nottingham and was only for one day. Whereas all the organisational things you had to figure yourself in which order to do them, and at the beginning it seemed like a vicious circle, as everything seemed to depend on each other.
Lectures and seminars also differ greatly. Firstly when selecting a module, you have to apply to the lecture and seminar separately, (and also you have to apply for all the exams yourself). One thing I found that’s better here than back in England is that, most lectures and seminars say on the internet platforms that they last 2 hours, but in fact they start quarter past the hour, and end quarter to the hour, so actually they’re an hour and a half. This helps me a lot, because I’m usually late everywhere, and if the lecture started on the hour, I would be late, but since it starts quarter past I’m on time. One of the other things that was a culture shock, and seems strange even now, after being here for nearly 2 months, is that at the end of the lecture instead of clapping everyone knocks on the desks.
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