Spring is here! The birds are chirping, the sun is out and an array of flowers fills the cityscape. It has been 27 days since I arrived in Germany, and my understanding of this historic land continues to be enriched each day. The HfG University is situated in Schwäbisch Gmünd, a small rural town located southwest of Germany. Living in a small town has provided time for considered reflection on the abundance of experiences and perspectives available.
In Europe, exchange students are known as Erasmus students. The Erasmus students come from all over the world such as America, England, Korea, Finland, Italy, Istanbul and Spain. This multicultural exchange group has provided insights into varying traditions and interests influenced by their background. We participate in a number of activities together each day such as presentation workshops, information sessions and visiting exhibitions. These experiences have bonded us and they have become like a family away from home.
Apart from the diverse culture experienced within the Erasmus team, authentic German culture is also observed. My buddy has been helpful welcoming me into a new environment and highlighting all the authentic German traditions. Having travelled in Australia, she provides an insightful comparison between the two cultures. Some tips have been such things like making sure you specifically order still water if you want tap water as many people drink sparkling water here. We had the infamous Maultasche, an Schwäbisch dish with large raviolis often in tomato sauce with fried onions on top. I was invited to her hometown, a little village just 15 minutes from Schwäbisch Gmünd. She lives in a white two-storey house overseeing an open farmland with a beautiful mountainous backdrop and was where I noticed the genuine German lifestyle.
Living outside of home is always an interesting experience. Food has been a crucial aspect to this new endeavour. Cooking with ingredients not found in Australia has become an educational experience – they also come with interesting stories. I bought a Weisswurst, a traditional white sausage and decided to slice them into small pieces then fried it with some vegetables. My German housemate came in laughing, as the way I was cooking the dish was odd. The traditional method is to take the skin off the sausage and boil it whole, in water.
As Germany is at the centre of Europe, travelling has been a common occurrence during the weekend. Being able to travel to a different country such as Hungary, Budapest only a 72 Euro bus ticket away has provided a varying context and a quick getaway.
So far my month here has been of pure excitement, education and eye opening experiences. The university welcomes you with open arms and provides the most support for an easy transition to a foreign country. By living in a new country, I have had first hand experience of the culture, people and lifestyle, a valuable perspective that cannot be taught.
My name is Cathy Luo (98134873) and I am a third year Visual Communication student on exchange at Hochschule für Gestaltung Schwäbisch Gmünd.