Michael - HESSEN - Justus Liebig Universität Giessen

B Science
Semester 2, 2018
My Germany exchange in a nutshell: great country, delicious sausages, beer and everything is so close to each other.

Academic experience

Justus Liebig University (JLU) in Giessen is a small University in comparison to UQ but nevertheless offers a wide range of courses delivered in small classes of 20 students. I took some really good and interesting courses in Microbiology, Genetics, and Biotechnology. Be aware of the block structure though, which pretty much limits you to 24 ECTS credit points in total if you do Science. JLU offers a number of courses like “age of world wars” specially designed for international students running once a week throughout the semester giving you 4 ECTS. However, you can only do them if you don’t study Science. Assessments and Exams were fair, plus the fact that all subjects are taught in blocks followed by the final exam at the end made it a nice study experience.

Personal experience

I was in Germany for the winter semester but already arrived towards the end of the European summer. This gave me the opportunity to experience super late warm summer nights with daylight up to 10 pm and the beautiful German Biergarten culture. It got quite cold during the winter months, down to minus 10 degrees, so be prepared for cold temperatures. Giessen itself is a small town with a population of approx. 80 thousand people within the state of Hessen. Giessen is in a great central location and only 45 minutes away from Frankfurt am Main by train. I did a lot of day and weekend trips to places like Aschaffenburg (state of Bavaria), Black Forest (state of Baden-Wuerttemberg), Cologne (state of North Rhine-Westphalia), Strasbourg (France) and many other beautiful places.

Accommodation

I have lived in the student accommodation in Unterhof which is only a 5-10 minute walk away from the Science campus, but 2.5 KM away from the towns centre. JLU has several discipline based campuses located throughout the city. As part of the exchange program, JLU Studentenwerk guarantees you a room in one of the shared student accommodation. Rent is cheap and around 190-200 Euro per month including bills and internet. If you want to live close to the towns centre and to where most of the action happens, choose another student accommodation.

Costs

Living and traveling in Germany was fairly affordable. In particular, getting the semester ticket from the University was awesome. The semester ticket is included in the 240 Euro’s you have to pay as your one-off semester fee, the great thing about it is that you can travel within the entire state of Hessen using public transport for free all semester long. I also recommend getting a German mobile prepaid card starting from 10 Euro’s a month only.

Challenge

I have encountered some issues in relation to my submitted study plan, basically due to miscommunication between departments at JLU. I did, however, resolve all problems through in-person meetings with respective course coordinators.

Professional Development

This exchange experience has absolutely changed my perspective on many aspects of my life. I’m definitely prepared to get out of my comfort zone more often from now on, as the rewards are just enormous.

Highlight

Submerging in the German food, beer and cake culture, have I mentioned cake? One of my highlights was definitely attending the “Rhein in Flammen” events, which included a boat tour along the river Rhein going past numerous 300-500-year-old castles and all at once were magnificently lit up by hundreds of fireworks. And not to forget, visiting the glamorous city of Berlin.

Top tips

Register yourself as a resident at the Giessen Rathaus (city hall); they will give you two movie tickets, two drinks and a snack voucher as a welcome present. Be prepared for a lot of paperwork. Get yourself a free of charge German bank account, will make your life easier and save you a lot of fees.