Sandy - Technical University of Munich

B Engineering (honours)/B Science
Semester 1, 2023

Motivation

My motivation for participating in this experience was due to a craving for a new and different experience. I became so used to the Australian life style and so I felt trapped due to the familiarity of everyday life. I have previously travelled to other countries, most of which were in South East Asia and so travelling to Europe was definitely a new experience for.

Personal Development

I gained many things, both physical, emotionally and intellectually. Physically I gained new friendships and new sentimental objects collected from my time in Europe. Emotionally, I gained new experiences, new connections to global friends and a sense of understanding for different lifestyles, customs, traditions and norms. Intellectually, I gained several new concepts and ideas from my courses and a new language (German).

Academic Development

Academically, the universities and their governing systems in Germany are different to what I'm used to in Australia. It was tricky to get used to, to say the least. For example, for my master level courses there were no recordings and not every course had online sessions. In addition, 100% final exams were the norm, at for the courses I took. Personally, I didn't find the tutorials very helpful as well as they emphasised the final answer as opposed to the strategy to obtain the final answer. Less effort was put in for helping students as well. While solutions were uploaded, students were expected, for some part of their time, to find the strategy to answers of questions themselves. This is okay if you are studious but you will fall drastically behind if you don't keep with the content. This is especially hard if you're in a new environment and you want to have the best time possible but don't want to sacrifice course study time. My advice would be to develop a routine for study and fun days so you don't fall behind.

Professional Development

I have developed many skills and attributes that are very appealing to my future employability. I believe the most important one is the fact that I assimilated into the German society for 6 months. This means that I won't be surprised about the norms and routines if for example I return to Germany. This is especially valuable if I potentially have a job offer based in Germany because there would be less of a risk for the company to hire me as compared to my first time in Germany for example. I have also picked up the German language which is also very valuable. Communication is key to connecting with people (which I understood before my exchange and my travels to South East Asia, but was greatly emphasised again in Germany), as it is the gateway for expression of emotions and intellect. So, a new added language to my other two languages have made me more appealing in the eyes of employers.

Costs

In Germany, the food prices are quite similar to the prices in Australia with the approximate equivalence from AUD to EURO. With that being said, it also depends on where you eat, buy groceries and buy essentials. Super stores such as Aldi and Lidl are regarded as cheaper than Penny, Edeka, Rewe and Kaufland. Penny, Edeka and Rewe are seen as more prestigious hence the slight increase in grocery prices. Below is a list (not limited to) of the Australian store equivalences to the German ones:Coles/Woolies - Kaufland (Groceries)IGA/Foodworks - Penny/Edeka/Rewe (Groceries)Kmart/Big W - Woolworth (Discount Store)Officeworks/The Good Guys - Saturn/MediaMarkt (Technology Store)Chemist Warehouse - DM/Müller (Pharmacy)Myer/David Jones - Wöhrl (Higher End Clothes Store)Accomodation was via the Studentenwerk München union which greatly subsides accommodation for students. If you manage to obtain an accommodation from this governing body (apply as early as possible), the week is from 300 to 400Euros per month. Otherwise external rentals via private bodies and companies are at minimum 600Euros per month for very basic accommodation from what I found. Transport is subsidised by the German government for everyone living in German and it's even cheaper for students. It's 29Euros per month for students for any mode of transportation within Germany (excluding high speed trains, comfort trains, etc.). The ticket is called the 'Deutschlandticket'. To arrive in Munich from Brisbane is around 4000 AUD for a return flight and I flew with Qatar Airways.

Funding

I believe everyone who attends an exchange will receive a 2000AUD 'Widening Experience' scholarship. This is beneficial because as it eases the large sum of money that needs to be paid upfront somewhat. However, I do recommend to have at least 12500AUD before you start your exchange, excluding the additional 2000AUD scholarship so you can live comfortably.

Accommodation

The Studentenwerk München is the governing body who organises the living arrangements for incoming exchange students. I was fortunate enough to be picked to live in Olympiapark's Olydorf. I lived in a bungalow which is a self-contained studio situated in Olympiapark. It had its own kitchen, living area, toilet, bedroom and balcony. Close by to my home as well, shops and restaurants were located in a little alleyway. Honestly there were no cons to my living arrangements in Munich. I believe the selection process for this living arrangement is completely random though so maybe that is a con. You can find Studentenwerk München's contact details on their website. My advice would be to apply to the Studentenwerk München in additional to your host university application ASAP to obtain the accommodation. I believe this was why I received the accommodation.

Highlight

I don't have a specific moment that was the absolute highlight but I would say the generic concept of travelling to different countries and meeting people was the best experience ever. Even after you've settled in Munich and finished your exams, you still meet new people when you travel to different parts of Munich or Europe. In the last couple of weeks, I've met new people who were my neighbours in my student dormitory whom I've never had the chance to speak to before. Travelling also brings you to new people and potentially new friendships as well as I have also met many people on my after-exams European tour.

Advice/Top Tips

My top tips are:1. Research and apply early (host university, accommodation).2. Either look into creating a N26 or Wise bank account for use in Europe.3. Apply for a study visa WHILE in Australia for Germany.4. Buy a cheap SIM card in Australia for overseas use BEFORE you leave Australia for the first couple of days in Germany.5. Be familiar with some common German phrases and words like, 'Bitte' (please), 'Wasser' (Water), 'Danke' (Thanks), 'Hallo' (Hello), 'Toiletten' (Toilet), etc.6. Research and buy the Deutschlandticket BEFORE you enter Germany as this will provide you public transport access when you arrive.7. If your N26 or Wise accounts have not been set up yet, have AT LEAST 200Euros (330AUD) cash when you arrive (also get some Euro coins if possible).8. Beware that grocery shops close on a Sunday!9. Public toilets cost money for use (sometimes 70 Euro cents or a 1 Euro coin)!10. You can drink water from the toilets (where you wash your hands). All water in Germany is safe to drink from the toilet basins. It may sound gross but it is completely safe and you will save a lot of money from not purchasing bottled water which is approximately 4Euros for 500mL of water at some shops.