Sophie - Technical University of Munich

B. Engineering / Science
Semester 2, 2016

Academic experience

I studied electrical engineering subjects at TUM. As my German language experience was not good enough to take courses taught in German, I had to take subjects in English, which were restricted to masters level. In some cases this was manageable, however, the level of some of the Master's courses was too complex. Thus, I spent a lot of time at the start of the semester trying a wide range of subjects to find the most suitable combination.
I found the courses to be very lecture based on 100% final exams. This was challenging, as I am more familiar with learning practically and completing continual assessment over the semester. Overall, it was a very beneficial to experience an alternative academic system, as it allowed me to compare the differences and identify the methods by which I learn effectively.

Personal experience

Prior to the semester, I spent the month of September studying an intensive language course which I organised separately to university. I was a complete beginner with German, however, I made a lot of progress learning in an intensive environment. This experience was hugely beneficial for feeling more at home in Munich and gave me a great insight into German culture. 
I made a range of friends from Germany and abroad. As most international students arrive in the same position, it is very easy to make friends. Throughout the semester we did a range of day and weekend trips, exploring places in Bayern, such as Königsee, the Bavarian Forest, and Passau, and cities further afield such as Budapest, Prague, Salzburg, and Berlin. Studying abroad developed many skills, such as independence, managing a budget, and making the most of every opportunity. Furthermore, as the winter semester commenced in October, I had a lot of time to travel before the semester and was able to travel through France, Croatia, Slovenia and Germany.

Accommodation

I lived in accommodation arranged by an organisation called Studentenwerk – which was organised through my TUM application. I was lucky enough to get assigned a bungalow in the old athlete's village from the 1972 Olympic Games. The bungalow contained a small kitchen unit, bathroom, desk, bed and balcony. I was even able to leave my mark by painting the front of my bungalow. The location in Olympiapark was fantastic and I loved living in my bungalow.

Budget

My rent was 340 euro per month, which is basically the cheapest available in Munich. Groceries from budget places such as Aldi and Lidl were quite comparable to buying groceries in Brisbane. Eating out in Munich is quite expensive, so the best thing to do is cook at home and allow more of your budget for going out with friends and travelling. A student semester ticket for public transport cost 189 euro, allowing for unlimited transport within the Munich region for 6 months. I also bought a bike which is the best way to get around (provided it’s not snowing). Munich is perfectly located for travel in central Europe, and the German bus company Flixbus is the cheapest way to travel. I found Munich to be an incredibly livable city.

Professional development and employability

Königsee - lake in Bayern near Munich
Königsee - lake in Bayern near Munich

Exchange has helped me to develop many skills contributing to my professional growth. Moving to a new city in a foreign country with a language barrier was challenging at times. I hence had to be open-minded and adaptable to settle in. My growing sense of independence and global awareness was also beneficial. Furthermore, I have greater confidence in myself given that exchange was such a success. I believe these skills will be valuable in a professional environment.

Highlight

There were so many highlights over the semester – it’s honestly too hard to choose. However, it is hard to go past the fantastic and diverse group of friends I made from all over the world. I have so many great memories, from travelling to simply going out for a Bier, and I strongly believe that my whole experience was enriched by the great group of people I met.

Top tips

  • Get as many subjects approved as possible. Acquainting yourself with a new university system is not easy and it is best to have as many subject options as possible when you arrive 
  • Learn the language – you’ll feel less alienated and more comfortable in your new city
  • Take every opportunity to travel. But don’t forget to explore your local country and host city
  • Say yes to every event. It’s the best way to meet people
  • Munich specific – buy a bike!