William - Leuphana Universität Lüneburg

B International Studies
Semester 1, 2019

Academic experience

At Leuphana I did German as a foreign language B1 level, Tandem language, Satire, ethics with emphasis on sustainability and lastly free speech, hate speech and public protest. That’s 25 ECTS which is 6 UQ units. If you want to do the full 8 units then you’ll need to do 30 ECTS, generally that’s 6 courses. The great thing about the academic system is that the assessment is all at the end. You will have lots of time to enjoy yourself before all the assessment kicks in. The biggest challenge is probably all the admin stuff. One aspect which is different is that you register for lectures and seminars rather than courses.1 seminar is usually 5 ECTS credits as is a lecture. You also register for exams separately from the seminars and lectures. You must look up the relevant lecture or seminar on a specific website and then register for the exam or assignment connected to that class.

Personal experience

Leuphana was a lovely university and Lüneburg was a great city. There are loads of other exchange students, so you won’t feel overwhelmed. The international department is also incredibly helpful, very nice and happy to speak English. Don’t worry if you have issues, just go and see them. A good tip for making german friends and improving your language skills is doing the tandem course. You will meet with a german partner every week and the overall assessment is very easy. Your speaking skills will improve a lot and you will probably make a few german friends through the experience. Lüneburg is quite small, so it’s fun to go around Niedersachsen area and see the other cities. It’s free to get the train to places like Hamburg and Bremen.

Accommodation

I lived off campus with a host family and 5 other exchange students. The family was lovely and really helped with my language skills. Its also great to live with other exchange students as you will become very close with them and probably spend most of time hanging out with them.

Costs

My rent was quite expensive with a host family at 320 Euros per month. But you can go cheaper if you don’t live with a host family, although I would still recommend living with other exchange students. Public transport is free in Lüneburg and you can always bike around. Although trains are free to other cities in Niedersachsen, you must pay for buses and trains within those cities. Food was roughly 150-200 Euros per month, but you can obviously go cheaper. There are also great deals for flights and buses to other countries in Europe so make sure you have a look at them.

Challenge

The biggest challenge for me was having the confidence to use german. Generally, I would panic when someone spoke to me and I would end up not comprehending what the person said. The key is to remain calm, which after a few weeks of effort you will be able to do.

Professional Development

Other than improving my german, I would say the biggest improvement I’ve seen in terms of professional development is my adaptability and resilience. Ultimately you will encounter challenges on exchange, once you get over these and learn how to solve problems by yourself then you will grow in confidence. Things which you may have seen as challenging before exchange will bother much less afterwards.

Highlight

I had a few highlights. Going to a football game in Hamburg was great, the atmosphere was amazing, and the fans were absolutely mental. Hamburg in general is a great city. Lüneburg is quite a small city so, so if you get bored Hamburg is close and there’s lots to do. I also enjoyed going to Am Sande in the summer, which is the main street in Lüneburg. If you are a fan of small but beautiful cities then Lüneburg is great, the cafes and bars along Am Sande are always amazing during the summer.

Top tips

My advice would be to sort all the admin out early. Make sure that you have all your documents ready for applying for residency. You must apply for residency within 2 weeks of arriving in Lüneburg. Make sure you sort your blocked bank account before you leave. You will need to deposit around 4000 euros into this account for you to be able to get a residence permit. I used a company called Fintiba and I found it very quick and easy.