Charis - Technical University of Munich

B Science
Semester 2, 2018

Academic experience

The academic system at TUM is very different. Majority of the courses had only one two hour lecture, no tutorials and 100% final exams. You do have extra flexibility in the exams you take, as you can participate in a course up until examination time and decide not to take the final. However, in saying this, don't forget to enrol in the exams you are taking, otherwise you will not be allowed to take the exam! I took three Masters level courses and a beginner German course. Taking Masters level courses were a challenge but it also allowed me to learn topics that I would not have been able to back at UQ.

Personal experience

It was my first time in Europe and Munich being basically in the centre allowed me to travel to so many places with cheap transport. I went on a few of the trips planned by the TUM international centre which not only allowed me to see different places near Munich, but I also met other exchange students from all over the world.

Accommodation

I was lucky enough to receive an offer for an apartment in a student dorm. There are multiple student dorms run by the Studentenwerk and which dorm you end up at depends on which campus you are based at. I would highly recommend this option if it is available to you as looking for your own accommodation in Munich is very difficult and expensive.

Costs

Rent with a student apartment was around 300 euros a month and groceries depending on where you shopped can be fairly reasonable. Transport was the biggest expense. The Semester Ticket that comes with the student card gets you transport during low-demand hours (6pm-6am weekdays, weekends and public holidays). To have unrestricted travel within the MVV network, you have to pay an extra 195 euros for the IsarCard (Semester). As I needed to use the UBahn every day for uni, it was better for me to pay the extra fee. Regarding food and entertainment, there are many student eats options but it really depends on how much you eat out and where you go. If you want to travel more I would suggest definitely having some extra savings.

Challenge

For me the biggest challenge was not knowing the language when I first arrived. There are a lot of administration tasks that need to be done before you start your semester, such as registration, opening a bank account and applying for health insurance. A lot of the information is presented in German, which can be very daunting as a foreign student who doesn’t speak German. I would highly recommend knowing a few basic phrases ('Sprechen Sie Englisch?' came in handy a lot!), but generally Germans will be quite willing to help you.

Professional Development

Being my first time living independently for a long period of time, I learnt a lot about being self-sufficient, time management and navigating and communication in a foreign country. These attributes will be useful in future jobs, relationships and if I decide to work outside of Brisbane after I graduate.

Highlight

Highlights include seeing snow for the first time, trying different foods, the many Christmas markets that were explored as well as travelling through Europe.

Top tips

-    Definitely go on the weekend trips organised by the TUM international centre! They are a great way to meet other exchange students and travel to another city (I went to Berlin and Vienna).
-    Depending on your area of study, majority of bachelor courses at TUM are in German so something to keep in mind if you don’t know any German.
-    If you are debating whether or not to go on exchange – do it. It’s an experience you won’t regret.