Ruby - Technical University of Munich

B Engineering / B Science
Semester 2, 2017

Academic Experience

The courses I took at TUM from the Mechanical Engineering (Maschinenwesen) department in Garching were Advanced Control, Dynamics of Mechanical Systems, Engineering Thermodynamics, Thermodynamics in Energy Conversion, Introduction to Wind Energy, and Advanced Fluid Mechanics (from the Bau, Geo & Umwelt faculty at the inner-city campus). All were delivered in English, most were masters courses, and each had a 1.5 hour 100% final exam. Not only was the course content challenging, but it was a whole new learning experience having no assignments during semester yet trying to keep up to date with self-study. I found it extremely beneficial to learn all the fundamentals again from professors with completely different academic backgrounds. I missed the practical and hands-on aspect of engineering courses at UQ, however that comes down to the subjects you can get credits for (you could try taking a lab course, but most are in German and you sometimes have to apply a year in advance). Keep in mind that the TUM winter semester exams go until the 31st of March, which overlaps with the new semester at UQ - you may be able to sit the late TUM exams at UQ, or try to choose courses that have already set an early exam date.

Personal Experience

It is hard to grasp how much I have grown as an individual since I left Brisbane almost 8 months ago. Being completely taken out of my comfort zone, routine and support structure back home allowed for tremendous learning experiences in all aspects of life. From being alone in a foreign country to meeting interesting people from all around the world, you will inevitably gain confidence, empathy and gratitude. I personally have been able to rethink my values & beliefs, develop new passions, habits, self-knowledge and form a better understanding of cultures.


I lived in Studentenstadt, right next to the beautiful Englischer Garten and conveniently located on the U6 subway line between the inner-city and the Garching campus. The apartment with my own bathroom and kitchenette was organised through Studentenwerk - I highly recommend taking this offer if it is available to you, as you will have a very hard time finding accommodation at such a great price. The best part was hanging out with my neighbours and watching the sunset over 16th-floor views of the city.


The rent ended up being cheaper than what I payed back home, and if you buy most of your staple groceries at Aldi it is very cheap too. For more specific and high-quality ingredients you may need to shop elsewhere, such as Edeka, which comes at a higher cost but generally compares to Australian prices. Lunchtimes at uni are great because you can find cheap, good food within walking distance from both campuses - I recommend the little Asian noodle hut south of the Mechanical Engineering building in Garching, or any of the little Thai and Vietnamese takeaways around the Universität area. Public transport is efficient and cheap if you buy the IsarCard Semester Ticket (do it), it is valid all around Munich, to the airport, and even on some regional trains. As for budgeting for entertainment and travel, that will obviously be completely up to you; this is a once in a lifetime experience to live within such a close distance to all of Europe, so I suggest you save up heaps beforehand and don't hold back once you're here.

Professional Development & Employability

During my time here I was able to drastically improve my German language skills, which will be of great benefit in my career. TUM offer free German courses at all levels during semester, so get amongst it. The exchange has also tested my organisation skills, independence, mental strength, communication, and open-mindedness, all attributes which will help in a variety of projects, jobs and relationships.


The most memorable part of my experience was 3 months of (partly) solo travel through Iceland, Italy, Croatia, France, Spain, Germany and later on during the semester in Austria, Czech Republic and Finland. What I have realised is that it is not so much about the quantity of places you see, rather the quality of the experience you have - such as backcountry skiing for 12 hours through the wilderness of Lapland in -26 degrees celsius, or deep-water soloing with the locals over Lago di Garda.

Top Tips 

  1. Get a bike! Even in the winter semester, there is nothing better than cycling through the gardens to see the creek surfers on a sunny day, or getting lost amongst the city's magnificent architecture.
  2. Keep a journal. Reading back on your thoughts will make you laugh.
  3. Go skiing! Zugspitze (the highest point in Germany) is easy and cheap by train, but the alps in Austria are just on another level.
  4. Interact with the locals (seriously, don't just hang out with other exchange students). I met cool people from the German Alpine Club and regularly went climbing at Boulderwelt Ost. One of my Aussie friends joined a German water polo team and absolutely loves it.
  5. Check out Lost Weekend cafe. Best atmosphere for studying, great coffee and amazing sandwiches. They also host jam sessions and political discussions.
  6. Visit the BMW Museum and do a tour of the factory - you will be blown away.
  7. Watch a Bayern Munich game in the Allianz Arena. You will see German efficiency at its finest in the way they play football.
  8. Immerse yourself in the German Christmas spirit. Visit all the night markets, drink hot spiced wine, eat bikkies and if you can, spend Christmas Eve the traditional way singing carols with a German family.
  9. Keep an eye out for concerts and events. We got to see Gang of Youth front row in an intimate venue for only 14 euros.
  10. Bring your togs and take a day trip to Therme Erding - endless saunas, water slides and wave pool.