Monique - University of Mannheim, Business School

B Advanced Finance and Economics
Semester 1, 2023
My highlight was the people I got to meet and the friendships I made throughout the experience.


Being half German, I wanted to spend some time living and experiencing part of my culture. With German as my second language I was aiming to improve my German both socially and technically so I can potentially work in German speaking countries in the future. I also wanted the opportunity to make new friends from around the globe, get to know their cultures and also take advantage of the convenience of being in Europe to travel, with Germany as my home base.

Personal Development

I was fortunate enough to spend a lot of time with someone from America who I now consider a very good friend. Being in the same position, regarding the subject we were taking, we walked extra hard aiming for the same goals. The experience taught me a lot about team work, and even just a different way of learning and collaborating with someone. I also learnt more about myself, what things I value in my life regarding things like friendships, personal values and even just what I want my living environment to be like. I learnt better ways to cope with anxiety and stressful times and discovered which of my friends from home are friends that are going to last.

Academic Development

I was very fortunate in during my exchange semester to only take courses I was actively interested. Through this I paid a lot of detailed attention to the materials and in one of my courses, actually added some coding (And learning how to learn to code) to my skills. This universities academic system is quite different to UQ's in that most of its subjects only have 1 final exam worth 100% of the grade. They also have an interesting policy, you may sit the first exam, and cross it out if you don't believe you performed well enough and then resit the exam at the second exam date without academic penalty. I both enjoyed and struggled with the final exams as they were my first in person exams in my university career (due to covid). With almost all being closed book, I really had to learn and understand my content rather than only having a surface level grasp on any topics. While learning for a different kind of examination was difficult and took extra time, the biggest challenge I faced was having (through an administrative error) my exams shuffled. I had prioritised my studies in one order, shifted them when they had changed and when they got switched again to an even more inconvenient timing (3 exams in 1 day), I did not have enough time to reorganise my priorities. Throughout this I had learn better ways of dealing with stress and my anxiety. Looking at the positives of my exam shuffles and actually improved on my skills of how to prioritise.

Professional Development

Through a set of group assignments I learnt a completely new way of collaborating with another team member which will be helpful in different group scenarios in the work environment. I also learnt 'how to learn' how to code which I can foresee being a great help in the workplace as much of finance is to do with data analysis which is sometimes easier and faster to do via code, than through a long and manual excel. I also learnt how to better communicate my skills and limitations with a group. And discovered that in a sizable team (6), without clear goals and in-depth discussion of the overarching aim and in-depth breakdowns, even the most competent group of students will struggle. Someone needs to be willing to step up and take the lead just to make sure the group is all aiming in the same direction.


I created a budget for approximate living expenses and once off costs to make sure I had the funding and tried to keep a rough track of my expenses throughout my experience to make sure I was spending within my savings amount. Some of my cost breakdowns were: Accommodation: $2000Transport (sem ticket): 180 euro Travel insurance: $500German health insurance: 650 euro Apartment setup costs (cutlery, cooking supplies, crockery, desk light etc.): $500Travels (Paris, London, Zurich +): $1000 +Food: 50 euro per week. My biggest piece of advice when it comes to budgeting is have 3 categories of budgeting. Your first category is your big once-off expenses: flights, rent (if paid upfront), travel insurance, health insurance, uni-fees, semester transport tickets etc. You second category is your weekly/monthly expenses: food, phone, drinks, gym, party entrance fees, etc. Your last category should be for your extracurricular travels. Figure out where you want to go, for how long and how much it costs: accommodation, food, transport (too-and-from and while-there), entry tickets (museums, monuments ...). This way, you can figure out your priorities and make sure you actually get to make the most of your experience.


I used the funding I received to finance part of my flights to and from Germany. Without the financial support I would have been sorely pushed to pay the lump sum needed for flights.


I was very fortunate that my host university was very proactive in sending out information and links on subjects such as accommodation. The university had an entire website dedicated to on campus, supported by campus or alternative suggestions with both accommodation and location. The living arrangements were pretty standard for university accommodation. Our 6-person shared "apartment" was a bit different from others in that we shared 2 toilets and 1 shower but each had our own small kitchenette in our bedrooms. This was great because you didn't have to fight with anyone about dishes, fridge space, taking out the rubbish etc., but it was somewhat isolating as you didn't really see anyone unless you happened to be on your way in/out or using the bathrooms. My best advice is, make your room comfortable, it will be your home for the next few months and you want it to be your safe space to come back to when the experiences and adventures get a bit too much.


I think my highlight was the people I got to meet and the friendships I made throughout the experience. I met so many different people from various cultures but with similar interests to mine. Learning about them and from them was exciting. With a lot of us going through the same experience together, or many having completed (or about to complete) an exchange, we had an easy starting point to quickly building lasting connections.

Advice/Top Tips

My first piece of advice would definitely be thoroughly researching not only the university (to make sure it offers the right courses and is tailored towards your desired experience) but also study up on the city. The city is where you will be spending a lot of time, and if you don't have enough time or are limited on funds to travel during your experience, the city can really colour your perception of the country, the culture and your exchange.