When I started uni, studying overseas would never have made it onto my bucket list. I always considered Global Exchange for the extroverted excitement finders, people who are not afraid to try new things and participate in crazy events on a whim. It never occurred to me that studying overseas could be a fantastic learning experience. For me, I was quite happy in my introverted engineering world just plodding along through my course, doing what I’m comfortable with, always moving one step closer to graduation and hopefully employment.
Fast forward 5 years and I find myself doing the unthinkable, studying overseas surrounded by a different culture, different language and different landscape. My name is Anthony Waters and I have successfully survived my first month of exchange in Stuttgart, Germany.
I have been assured that snow in Stuttgart during Spring is unseasonal…
For most, exchange is about having a good time, travelling the world and if time permits maybe squeezing in a bit of study. Being in the final year of a Mechatronic Engineering degree, I was a little more concious of the future and so it is no accident that I chose Stuttgart as my destination of choice for exchange. Stuttgart is a major industrial centre in one of the most renowned countries of the world in terms of engineering. The petrol heads out there probably already know that Stuttgart is home to large car manufacturers such as Porsche, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
One of the most famous exhibits in the Mercedes-Benz Museum, the Mercedes-Benz 300SL.
If I am still here when I graduate and I can find employment with one of the numerous engineering companies here, I don’t think I will ever go home.
My first month here in Germany has been quite an adventure already. Getting off the plane, everything appeared to be pretty much the same as how I left Sydney with the exception that all the signs were in German and it was ridiculously cold outside (-4°C). But not before too long, I was confronted by the infamous German bureaucracy and it really hit me that was truly in a different place and in a different culture. Even though I had spent the last year learning German, it felt like it had been for nothing because I didn’t understand a thing. Luckily for me, the Buddy assigned to me by the university helped to breach the bureaucratic language barrier and everything has happened fairly smoothly since.
So far Language has been the most daunting part of the exchange. Not being able to communicate what is in your head to others can be equal parts frustrating and demoralising. Thankfully, I am not alone in my plight. Many of the other exchange students from around the world also face the same issue and from that I have made many friends. I’m hoping that being surrounded by the language constantly will rub off on me eventually but participating in the Intensive German Course before semester starts has shown me that I may be a fair way yet before I am fluent.
Despite my quite obvious infatuation with engineering, Germany is far more than just a home for engineers. It is also a country with rich culture and history, most notably seen through the numerous castles and cathedrals. In my first month, I have been able to play tourist and I have visited a number of interesting places with my new found friends.
Here are some of the highlights:
Outside the Mercedes-Benz Museum.
Hohenzollern Castle outside of Tübingen
View of the Rhine from the top of the Kölner Dom
I expect there will be much more fun to come and I gladly look forward to it.