I’m now well into my second month at Mannheim University, Germany. On the first day I arrived into Mannheim I remember I was given a list of administrative tasks that I had to complete before I was able to start attending Uni. I didn’t know anyone at the time and I spent the next day or so frantically running around the city trying to sort out everything (without any knowledge of German). It was freezing cold and I had left my beanie, scarf and gloves at home. I definitely wasn’t feeling tip top of the world. It was at this stage that I saw the castle of a University that I was going to spend my next half year in and life didn’t seem so bad.
Fast forward a month and a half later, it’s needless to say that going on exchange was probably the scariest yet most enriching decision I have ever made in my life. I have made friends which I no doubt will keep in contact with well beyond the end of the semester, tackled the ridiculously pedantic language that is Deutsch and grown a newfound appreciation for the Aussie Summer.
The city of Mannheim is small (well compared to Sydney) but I’m absolutely in love with it. There is a mysterious scent of chocolate and kebabs that lingers throughout the city and if you follow it you’ll find quaint eateries, discount grocery stores and a sea of bicycles. Mannheim University organises countless events so you can get to know not only fellow exchange students but also the locals. Beer and pretzels are both cheap and abundant, so I’m pretty much in a constant state of euphoria.
If you’re thinking about going on exchange and you’re a little hesitant, just go for it. Be open to new experiences and talk to people you wouldn’t otherwise normally talk to. Travel on your weekends (or your weekdays) and get lost in the cultural mismatches.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. — Mark Twain
Brigitte Duong 11442011