Studying overseas in a foreign country may be one of the most beneficial experiences for a university student. I studied abroad in Germany 2015 and it was the greatest year of my life. I changed and developed so much as a person, I got to travel all through Europe and met so many incredible people along the way.
You’re not only visiting that new country and place- you are actually studying and living there, so you get to have that real experience.
You will take in a brand new culture and fully immerse yourself in it. You’ll discover incredible new foods, customs and traditions of the locals. There’s no better way to develop and learn language skills and get a better understanding and appreciation for the nation’s people and history.
|Enjoying the delights of Germany!|
The city was the most beautiful place I’ve ever been to- and I’m from New Zealand! Konstanz was one of the few towns left untouched during WW2 due to their close proximity to Switzerland, so the gorgeous Old Town with its incredible buildings and architecture all remain.
Konstanz sits on the crystal blue Bodensee (Lake Constance) of which the Rhine branches off and is surrounded by snow-capped Alps- it is such a magical place and I loved every second of my time there. I really enjoyed using German in every day life (most shop keepers didn’t speak English) and learning the differences between southern Germany to the rest of the country.
|The beautiful Lake Constance at sunset|
You get the chance to explore your new country and travel to neighbouring countries as well, especially if you’re studying in Europe and Asia with plenty right on your doorstep.
At Konstanz University we got the option to arrive a month before the semester started where we could do an intensive German language course (to get up to scratch- it really helped!) and had the opportunity to take part in loads of trips and activities organised by the university’s fantastic international team.
I signed up for every single one and we started by exploring our new city and were taken on a historical walking tour of Konstanz. Throughout the month we visited across the lake to neighbouring Meersburg where we toured their 5th Century castle, to Reichenau, through the Black Forest to Freiburg- all nearby places in the state of Baden-Württemberg.
|Seeing Neuschwantsein Castle was a dream come true!|
Throughout the semester there were plenty of other organised excursions too, including hikes in Switzerland and Austria. My favourite was the trip to the Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria. I also managed to get away to Munich, Stuttgart and Berlin on days off with friends or by myself.
Internationally, we could literally walk to Switzerland in less than 10 minutes, and France and Austria were only a couple of hours drive away. I absolutely loved having all these countries on my doorstep!
I went to Switzerland (a lot), France, Italy, London and then travelled all over Europe for two months after the semester ended before heading home.
|Feuersee and Johannes Church in Stuttgart|
You will be faced with all sorts of challenges- a new living situation, education system, possible language barriers. But you will learn and overcome all of these, and find new interests you may not have been exposed to before.
Being in a new place by yourself might be out of your comfort zone, but it tests your ability to adapt to change and challenging situations which is a great life skill to have.
Group work was required for almost every single paper and credit, so you had to heavily rely on your team and in turn not let them down (which was a lot of pressure!). However, I grouped with some brilliant and hard working German students and we all worked together very well, so I was quite lucky that we all pulled together and got top marks.
|The view of Konstanz University|
Travelling solo was completely new to me and it really helped my personal development.
Being totally independent and taking charge made me much more confident.
You learn a lot about yourself- what you like, what you don’t like, and you get to do exactly what you want without pleasing anybody else. It’s a wonderful and freeing feeling which is fantastic to experience.
|Lake Constance with the Imperia statue and Alps in the background|
Not to mention the wonderful Germans who I found very friendly and excited to meet us as well. You’re thrown into this exciting time with a great bunch of people who are in the same situation as you. You get to travel with them in your time off and have the opportunity to really get to know and create lasting relationships which is invaluable.
|Regular hang-spot on the Rhine|
When you finish your exchange program and return home, you’ll return with a fresh new perspective on culture, language skills and education, all of which are very attractive to future employers.
Many students create ties with their host country and find they love it so much they decide to seek work there. A local experience and education will be very valuable when searching for a potential job in that country.
|Gorgeous view from the Konstanz Münster|
I look back on my student exchange so warmly and Konstanz will forever have a place in my heart. I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to study there and I’m forever grateful to Victoria University of Wellington and the Baden-Württemberg scholarship for making it possible, and of course to Universität Konstanz for the fantastic semester and making us international students feel so welcome.
If you get the chance to go on a student exchange then I recommend it 100%! It will change your life, I guarantee it.
Have you studied abroad? If so where did you go and how did you find it?
If not- where would you like to go?
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