James - Humboldt University of Berlin

B International Studies
Semester 2, 2018
What happens on exchange stays on exchange!

Academic experience

During my time on exchange I was able to take electives from my course of study. I took some subjects from the ‘Berlin Perspectives’ module and some German language classes. I found the academic system to give students more independence and freedom with what they studied. This was nice, but it means you need to check the information given to you by your chosen university to ensure you are up to date with everything!

Personal experience

I gained some invaluable skills and relationships while I was on exchange. Of course, being in a German-speaking country, I was presented with endless opportunities to practise my language skills and meet friends from all over the world. Living away from my family and friends for an extended period of time also taught me important (and invaluable) lessons on how to become more independent and overcome challenges.

Accommodation

I lived off-campus in private accommodation because Humboldt didn’t provide any on-campus accommodation. There is currently a housing crisis in Berlin and as such, it was difficult to find somewhere to live. I had to exercise patience and remain committed to finding the right place for me. Once I found my apartment, though, I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know my roommates and getting an insight into what it was like to live independently in Berlin.

Costs

In Berlin, things are relatively cheap. Food was below average price in Australia, transport was $300 for the entire semester and rent is roughly $700 AUD per month. Travelling to other countries within Europe was also very inexpensive. Flights, buses or trains could be caught for roughly $20-40 AUD.

Challenge

As previously mentioned, my biggest challenge was finding an appropriate place to live. I had to be patient and remain headstrong throughout this process, as it was very stressful. However, after spending a few hours per day searching for accommodation websites and exploring all options, I was finally able to find something for me.

Professional Development

After my exchange experience, I feel as though I am better able to communicate with other people in various social/formal situations. Being that everyone I met abroad was a new face, I developed extremely valuable communication skills and the ability to make friends with all sorts of people!

Highlight

The highlight of my experience was the Christmas/New Year’s period. I made some good friends from the USA who were also unable to travel home to see their family at this time, so we spend Christmas and New Year’s together and thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company.

Top tips

My best advice to anyone considering exchange would simply be to ‘just do it’! I had heard many stories from friends and others about how the exchange is a truly incredible and invaluable experience that you will remember for the rest of your life, and I can now soundly agree!