Semester abroad

Annika Meyer (Australia)

 

My semester in Australia

I currently spend my sixth semester at the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) in Australia. As the name implies, the university is located on the Sunshine Coast in a small town called Sippy Downs.
The campus is located in a nature reserve, so on the way to the university I am joined by kangaroos, which makes me happy every day.

At the USC we are studying with many international students and next to our academic studies we enjoy life at the Sunshine Coast! Buses to Mooloolaba leave regularly from the bus station of the university. Mooloolaba has a beautiful beach where you can spend study breaks, enjoy the beautiful weather or just stroll along the promenade, have a look at the small shops and enjoy good food in a variety of restaurants and cafés.

Brisbane is just an hour away by car. The capital of Queensland is a vibrant city with more than two million inhabitants. The neighbouring area around Sippy Dows has a lot to offer as well, such as the Glasshouse Mountains, the pretty coast town Noosa or the beautiful Hinterland.

 

The tropical landscape is very diverse and offers new and exotic things to discover. The USC was founded in 1996. With about 6.500 students it is one of the most modern universities and a high academic level in the booming part of Australia.

The biggest difference to the German university is that most of the courses have three exams or assignments during the semester, this means you always have to study or write an assignment. The professors are open and helpful at all times and there are many further options to get support as a student.

So, if you like to go to the beach to recover from learning and enjoy the warming sun in an exotic environment, the USC is the right place for you. I warmly recommend it.

Maxi Schicho (Sweden)

 

My semester abroad at the University "Högskolan Dalarna"

I had the honour and pleasure of spending my semester abroad in Sweden. My host university "Högskolan Dalarna" is located in the Dalarna region in a small town called Borlänge surrounded by beautiful nature. The university, with a second location in the neighbouring town Falun, has a pleasant size and you can easily find your way around. The atmosphere is very familiar, every problem is taken seriously and help is provided when needed. The registration process is a bit laborious, but the well-described homepage of the university makes it manageable. The university is close to the city centre, which makes almost every wish come true. Borlänge offers many possibilities for skiing or sledging. The winter in Sweden can be relatively long, thus I had snow until the end of April. In this time, I could collect many lasting memories, as for example a Husky tour or a short trip with friends into the snowy north to Kiruna.

 

However, it is wonderful when everything starts to bloom slowly at the end of April and the long awaited spring or summer comes to Sweden. We had a lot of barbecues and due to the fact that the sun sets very late in Sweden from May onwards and rises again very early, it was possible to spend many hours outside with friends. Borlänge is not a city that offers many possibilities for going out, but it is very diverse from the activities in the nature. Many international students study at the university in Borlänge, so you can get in touch very quickly. Those who enjoy long and snowy winters, love activities in nature and would like to get to know the Scandinavian region better I can warmly recommend the Högskolan Dalarna in Borlänge or Falun.

Charlotte Collard (Spain)

 

For my internship semester, I decided to go abroad, in order to not only gain professional experience but also experience another culture. As I wanted to stay in central Europe but still discover a substantially different work environment, I decided to go to Barcelona. After a first bad experience in a consulting company, I started to work for a company working in the tourism industry. Although I firstly thought of it as an emergency solution, it then ended being the right company for me. Hence, I was involved in many different business processes and could work independently. All in all, although I could not imagine myself working in Spain forever, as of the working conditions offered, I learned much about the culture as well as its work environment and acquired many skills which will be useful in the future.

Anastasia Buyzhina (Norway)

 

How Anastasia met Oslo

Hey y'all! Now it is my seventh semester at Stralsund University of Applied Sciences and I am doing my internship semester at MAN Truck & Bus Norge AS located in Oslo (Norway).
Oslo is the capital of Norway, but it is quite small, only around 700,000 people live here. However, it is still very international; there is variety of different people from different countries you can meet. Mostly you can hear American English and German here. And, as everyone knows, almost every Norwegian speaks English... and it does not really help to improve my Norwegian, but still it is nice to know if I am lost somewhere, I can ask anyone, and they will answer in perfect English.

About the internship – a very friendly environment: interns are very independent, have their own tasks, and no one is looking over their shoulder; the organization is flat, no obvious hierarchy, which we had all already learned at our Intercultural Management lectures -> Hofstede was not wrong about it.  The office is very comfortable and nice; there is also a canteen with different dishes every day and open salad bar.
My area of responsibilities is preparing ad-hoc reports on selected processes of the order and sales offices. The reports are the basis for the strategic management work, which means I assist in collecting information that is valuable for further executive decisions. Apart from that, I do a lot of logistics and sales related activities, mostly dedicated to tax questions. My favorite task is keeping in touch with MAN - service offices all over Norway and informing them on upcoming required service they have to do for their customers.  When I have time, I check the MAN-intranet for updates and useful materials, and MAN has a lot to offer, especially on change management and innovations.  I would say that now I have a very fulfilled life, work-life balance is totally in place: I work from 8 am till 4 pm, after that I have time and energy to be socially active, do sports, and spend time with my new Norwegian friends.

 

My life outside of work is pretty active too - I joined a student movie club “Cinema Neuf”, there I am now an active member (doing marketing and PR), we usually do screenings of independent Norwegian movies and organize some fraternity parties. Because all team members are Norwegians, I do indeed practice a lot of Norwegian there (start forgetting Swedish instead), and very happy to be around them because it is the most accepting bunch of people I ever met, and they always share with me a lot of interesting facts about Norway, for example, that school kids, who do not attend church, have some kind of their own confirmation, and it is very interesting - they have to spend 24 hours as refugees – it means they are all brought to the forest  for 24 hours in November, with one hand full of rice, some warm clothes, a sleeping bag but no tent. This experience shows them what refugees go through (even police chases them time to time during those 24 hours). I do not think I would read things like that in a guide book.

Also, I decided to join Norwegian courses, just to have more opportunities to dive into the Norwegian culture. Because Norway works very hard on integrating internationals into the society (at least it is my feeling here), there are some affordable courses at the job center. Besides from that, I usually travel on weekends, go hiking, attend concerts (there is a vibrant underground scene) or just do touristic things in Oslo. There is always something interesting happening!

What I have learned so far:

  • Locals are very nice and friendly
  • So much private space, even on public transport
  • Hiking is even more serious than in Germany
  • German bread is still the best (sorry Norway)
  • You need no cash at all, everything can be paid with a card
  • Digitalization is everywhere
  • Access to different types and shapes of liquorice.

Finally, my personal peaks in Oslo:
What to eat?

  1. Smågodt (Bulk confectionery) – you just need to try it!
  2. Brynost (Brown cheese) – have to try: you will love it or hate it from the first try

 

What to visit:

  1. The Vigeland park – the park is full of various sculptures which explore the humanity in its’ different forms.
  2. Inner fjords of Oslo – if you don’t have a chance to see other fjords, those ones will work too
  3. Opera House – it is an enormous building which looks like an iceberg.
  4. Mathallen Food Hall – the indoor food market with a lot of different food from different countries
  5. Østmarka – very short hiking near Oslo.

Where to go:

  1. Blitz – if you want to have a real local experience, and you enjoy (not scared of) the underground scene
  2. Kulturhuset – just a lace to chill, there is very different music all the time, as well as interesting lectures.

I never thought I would do my internship in Norway, but now I recommend it to everyone: if you want to experience a very welcoming atmosphere in relatively small Northern European capital – go to Oslo!

Caroline Rucht (Cyprus)

 

At the moment I am doing an exchange semester at the University of Nicosia (UNIC) in Nicosia - the last split capital city.
 
Before the introduction week, there was an English course, which I took. It did not really need it, but I got to know many Cypriots. They are very caring and friendly. It is easy to get to know them, and they are happy to show you their country. In the first week of semesters, the UNIC offers an introduction week, which is free for students. We were offered excursions, parties and many other events. In addition, the UNIC has a lot of sports and social clubs, e.g. the diving club that I joined.

The professors are very understanding and easy to approach. Even though there are a lot of assignments and projects, there is enough time to travel at the weekends. For me, this is the best part of the exchange semester. I saw wonderful places at the sea side and old amphitheatres as I travelled around the island. I can truly understand why Cyprus is called the island where the gods have their vacation.

Bünyamin Aksoy (Thailand)

My internship in Bangkok

My name is Bünyamin Aksoy, I am 25 years old and I am studying Baltic Management Studies at the Hochschule Stralsund.
In our studies, we were supposed to complete an internship for over 5 months, so I decided to do my internship abroad to gain insights into the working environment, working atmosphere and culture in a different country. For me, Thailand was the most attractive country to do my internship. Asia as a continent itself, is the fastest growing economic region in the world, as well as the largest continental economy by both GDP and PPP according to the IMF.
Thailand is the 8th largest economy in Asia and the second-largest economy in Southeast-Asia. The real estate sector is also on the rise - especially in Bangkok. The high demand for properties makes the real estate business very interesting. Furthermore, living expenses are affordable. Therefore, I decided to apply for an internship at RE/MAX Thailand, another deciding factor was because my interest in the real estate business. RE/MAX is the world’s largest franchise real estate business with a presence in 110 countries, more than 8200 offices and 124,000 agents. The internship takes place at the RE/MAX Thailand Head Office in Bangkok. It is the master franchise and develops new offices around the country. In addition to that, the Head Office provides training for new agents and brokers as well as services for developers.
During my internship, I work as the business development coordinator at RE/MAX Thailand. My tasks include improving the work in the marketing department to gain

 

more leads and potential customers to sell more franchises. The Head Office presents their development services with the aim to sign exclusive contracts with the developers. To accomplish these tasks, I develop and work on surveys to gain information about customer behaviour. After formulating the results, I analyse and share it with the marketing department to help improve processes and further marketing campaigns. I also contact developers and set up meetings with the responsible managers. During the meetings, I present to them our company, the real estate business opportunities in Thailand and in turn, offer solutions and services to meet their needs. We also travel across the country to give real estate seminars, whereby we give information about the real estate business opportunities and recruit new agents and brokers to increase the RE/MAX company footprint in Thailand. The office atmosphere is very pleasant. The people here are very kind, helpful and always in a good mood. The dynamic between the staff as well as the interaction with the boss, is very familiar and informal. I enjoy working with them because I can learn a lot and improve my skills in relation to business and specifically, the real estate industry. Besides work, I travel a lot in my free time. Thailand is a stunningly beautiful country with staggering beaches, mesmerising islands and breathtaking mountains and jungles. Bangkok, the capital city, has more than 8.5 million inhabitants, multiple skyscrapers and delicious Thai food which is sometimes spicy. For these reasons and more, Thailand is a special place to live in.

 

Overall, the decision to do my internship in Thailand was a very good one. To date, my internship has been very rewarding - I have had interesting and challenging tasks which enabled me to improve my knowledge and skills. I have sufficient time to travel around Bangkok and across the country and due to the affordability, I have enjoyed the beautiful sites this country has to offer.
I can recommend Thailand to anyone who wants to enjoy a very colourful culture, kind people, nice weather and beautiful landscape.

Florian Bühnemann (Russia)

 

My semester(s) abroad in St. Petersburg

Currently I am spending my 5. Semester at the Peter the Great Polytechnic University in St. Petersburg. To receive a double degree, I will also spend my 6. Semester here in Russia. The campus is located north of the city center and it takes roughly 30 minutes by metro to go to the Nevsky Prospect which is the main road in St. Petersburg. It’s just a five minutes walking distance from the dormitory to most of my lectures.

Most of the time the weather here is rainy and cloudy. Nevertheless, St. Petersburg is a beautiful city. Especially at night, when the building in the city center are enlightened. There are countless museums, cafes and bars where you can escape from the rain. Also, compared to other countries, the cost of living in St. Petersburg is comparatively low for a major city with almost five million inhabitants.

I can imagine, that for many people the language is one reason not to go to St. Petersburg. Of course, speaking a little bit of Russian will help you a lot, but you will also get along just fine if you only speak English.

In Russia administration often is a chaos and sometimes I had the feeling that no one really seems to know who is responsible for my issues. Nevertheless, everyone is friendly and tries to help you as best they can and at the end of the day there has never been a problem which couldn’t be solved. At some point you just stop worrying about what could go wrong, or which problem comes next. There will be another problem as well as another solution to this problem.

For those of you who are looking for an adventure in a beautiful city and maybe want to step a little bit out of their comfort zone, I can warmly recommend to study in St. Petersburg.

Christopher Blanck (Spain)

 

My Semester(s) abroad in Vigo (Spain)

Vigo, a city in the north east of Spain in the province of Galicia. Never heard of it? – Well, me neither before started to look for partner universities abroad. The University of Vigo is one of the biggest in Galicia with 22,000 students, various faculties and lots of great events.

Currently, I am studying BMS in the 5th semester and I decided to absolve my 5th and 6th semester in Vigo. In the beginning, the most important aspect were the courses I could take at the university of Vigo. Referring to the course offer it is important to know that there are lots of courses in English in various faculties. Some of the faculties are located on the main campus and some are in the city centre. If you are interested in studying in Vigo but you don’t speak Spanish it is not a problem as long as you plan your courses well beforehand.

Certainly, there are some difficulties in finding the right courses due to the fact, that they are spread over different faculties. Nevertheless, it is possible to find enough courses in English for the two semesters and the coordinators of the Erasmus students in Vigo are very helpful. In general, one can say that the coordination of subjects, projects and events here in Vigo well done. However, it is very helpful to speak basic Spanish before coming here and to have the motivation to learn the language.

The city itself is certainly not the most beautiful place to be in Spain. Nevertheless, it offers a diverse range of activities and cheap (+reliable) public transport to go around Galicia. Galicia in general is my favourite place to be in Spain due to its diverse and green landscape, empty beaches and perfect waves.

If you plan to have a super sunny and warm winter, I have to disappoint you. Enthought, the summer is significantly longer (until September and October) the autumn and winter months here in Vigo are rainy and fresh.

 

Of course, the temperature is still better then back home, but don’t expect a warm winter. By the way, it is easy to escape to Portugal (where the weather is much nicer) by bus for less than 20€ and the Uni-lifestyle will go on for a few days without you… . Furthermore, I can say that the culture of the Galician people is amazing. I really enjoy the food, the nightlife and the general mindset of the people. If you learn Spanish, it is easy to get in touch with the locals and there are lots of great places to have a vine and watch the sunset around the city. At the university they offer various activities to get to know people.

All in all, I can highly recommend the University of Vigo if you are interested in improving or learning Spanish, get to know the Spanish culture and experience great natural environment.

Marvin Dötsch (Finland)

 

My semester abroad in Kouvola

I am currently spending my 5th semester abroad at the South-Eastern Finland University of applied sciences (or XAMK for short) at the campus in Kouvola. It is a small city in the south-east of Finland. And when I say small, I mean small for German standards. In Finland, just over 80.000 inhabitants make you the 10th most populated city of the country. The university had just been renovated and is therefore very modern. It is located a few hundred meters outside the city center, unfortunately on the opposite site from the student apartments. But with the rental bikes or the bus it is easily reachable even for people who don’t like walking long distances.

The city itself is fairly small but full of nature. Everything is within walking or biking distance. Lakes, Gyms, forests, the university, the city center with its shops, train station, and the large shopping mall are easily reachable.  And if you are ambitious, even the national park. But I would recommend taking a bus or a car there. Kouvola itself does unfortunately not offer too much, but it is located in such a way, that you can travel very easily. You can, for example, reach St. Petersburg in two hours by train, Helsinki in just over one hour, and from Helsinki it is just 2 hours by ferry to Tallinn. But there are also a lot of smaller beautiful cities like Kotka, Lahti or Mikkeli within 2 hours of train ride from Kouvola. As train tickets cost less here than in Germany, it is a very easy way of travelling.

 

Summer here in Finland does not last too long and autumn is fairly short, too. The first snow fell in the middle of October, but than the weather changed to “untypically warm” so until the end of November we mainly had temperatures slightly above 0°C. We were unlucky with the weather, it was mainly gray, which in combination with the shorter days has gotten to the mood of some Erasmus students who are not used to it. The feeling of showing the Italian, Spanish and other southern students snow for the first time in their lives however sparks joy in everybody.

Coming to Finland is a great idea if you like nature, as everything is surrounded by nature here. There are up to three large parks on the way to the university already, depending on the route. As there are a lot of international students in Kouvola, you will get in touch with new people very quickly. There are a lot of possibilities to go out on evenings, be it in bars or some privately organized parties (usually by Russians) and as ways are short the way home is easily found, even after a few drinks. If you like it a bit colder and don’t mind sunsets at half past three, then coming here is one of the best things you can do, especially with the possibility of a double degree.