Lauren - University of Mannheim, Business School

B Advanced Finance and Economics (Honours) / Dip Languages
Semester 2, 2022


My main motivation in undertaking this experience was to improve on my German language skills and to have the opportunity to meet other international students from around the globe. I wanted to experience how the culture and life in Germany differed from home, as I knew I would gain invaluable lessons and opportunities from it.

Personal development

It’s hard to articulate and quantify how much I gained from my time abroad, but I can definitely say it was a life changing experience. I am very fortunate to have met and formed a close circle of friends from all over the world, which served to expand my worldview. I was able to develop my foreign languages skills, both Italian and German, through daily life and interactions with aforementioned friends.  Exchange also gave me the opportunity to travel and explore parts of Europe that I hadn’t yet visited, which in itself was a character developing experience through the various lows and highs that concurrently occur when travelling. I believe that through an accumulation of all these factors, I have returned as a more well rounded, confident and versatile person.

Academic development

Studying in a new country is always daunting and the fact that my country was not a native English speaking country was even more so. Luckily, although most of the university sites were in German, I was able to rely on my own language skills to get me through and failing that, that of my native speaker housemates. The prestige and mentality of students at the University of Mannheim pushed me to achieve more than I thought I would have been capable of, and the wide range of subjects offered meant I had the opportunity to explore subject areas outside of my degree that interested me. The system itself was completely different, which took a while to get used to and was a challenge in itself. Idiosyncrasies such as registering for exams, intensive seminars, in person only, 100% graded finals and chalk/blackboards made for an interesting semester to say the least. Thankfully, the University’s support system for international students made any difficulties encountered quite easy to navigate.

Professional development

Aside from the obvious language skills, there were numerous soft skills that I both developed and consolidated during my exchange. I would say confidence and my ability to adapt to change were the two most important skills that I furthered, through being pushed out of my comfort zone whilst navigating a new country.


Before departing, I budgeted out how much I expected to spend in Europe based on my current expenditure in Australia and taking into account price differences and exchange rates. I had a weekly expenditure that I set myself, however it was flexible enough that I didn’t particularly have to stringently count every dollar every week. My overall experience cost me around ~6900 euros, keeping in mind that a large portion of this was subsided by various scholarships. This was inclusive of several weekend trips and whatnot. Exchange can definitely be done cheaper that what I did it on but I didn’t want my experiences to be limited by budget, so I was willing to do anything or go anywhere. In total, accommodation and travelling were my largest two expenses, at 3000 and 1200 Euros respectively. Groceries were roughly 45 Euros per week, which was more than I expected. 
Advice wise, I would recommend going in with a reasonable budget with a safety cache to dip into, as this way you can enjoy all the experiences on offer on exchange without splurging excessively. Do some research into what the average cost of living is (eg. petrol and rent are way more expensive in Germany, but average groceries are cheaper) and be realistic - you’re probably going to have the opportunity to travel, so look into the most efficient modes of transport.


The funding I received was incredibly beneficial to my experience, as it meant I was able to partake in various optional experiences that I otherwise would not have chosen to do, such as small weekend trips around the area I was in. Most of my funding went to paying my rent and weekly food expenses (approx 900 euros per month), so that my savings were cashed on optional activities.


I chose to go into private housing, as I had heard from my German friends about a website called wg-gesucht where people posted rooms and or apartments up for rent. I preferred this over the student housing as it gave me more flexibility on location, allowed me to live with German students and offered more facilities. I lived with three German roommates, which gave me the opportunity to practice my language skills, and the place I stayed in was far larger and more equipped that the student housing of my friends. As such, it usually meant that I hosted any group activity due to the extra space. 

I would recommend to future students to do research into options, as while student housing will always be the cheapest and easiest option, it may not always be the best. I valued having a larger space and proper cooking and washing facilities over a slightly cheaper rent.


Honestly the people that I met and the routine I formed were the highlights of my experience. My friends and I had a weekly tradition of going climbing (a hobby I brought from Australia) and then to our favourite restaurant, and this is what I always looked forward to the most every week. Just hanging out with other international students, discovering the city, watching movies together were some of the mundane things that made my experience.

Advice/Top tips

Put aside all doubts and worries - the experience is worth it. The lessons you learn and the people you meet and the things you see can’t be measured with dollars. You rarely get an opportunity like this, to move with no obligations or constraints to a new country with a fresh slate, so take it. Sometimes it is hard to see your friends back home enjoying life without you but the highs far outweigh the lows and I can promise you that you’ll be having too much fun most of the time to care.