I have been travelling around northern Europe for six weeks already and there are just two weeks left until I arrive in Berlin for my exchange. It’s mid September now and most other UTS exchange students will have just started their studies, but Germany seems to be the odd one out; its winter semester commences at the beginning of October. For me, that works out just fine. More time for travels!
My exchange host university is the Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft (HTW) Berlin. Not that anyone has actually asked my reasoning or questioned my choice, but my primary motivation for an exchange in Germany was to improve my High German. And I feel that Berlin speaks for itself when it comes to why I chose the city.
Once I was accepted to HTW Berlin, I started thinking about accomodation. I was initially keen to move into a WG (‘Wohngemeinschaft’, or share house) and tapped into all my German contacts and Facebook share house groups for information and to start the search. In the end, HTW’s student accomodation was the most affordable option on the cards. Not to mention, the application process was bafflingly simple and it’s a great opportunity to experience living around so many students. I’m excited to move into my room when I arrive in Berlin. It’s a private room with a small kitchen and bathroom. But right now, I’m still on the road…
I’ve travelled broadly before (a 15 month gap year around Europe), so I had no pre-departure fear of taking on the world alone. Packing is always a pickle though, regardless how seasoned a traveller you are. So many small decisions to make. Ultimately, less is more. So, the day after uni finished and the day before my flight, I packed my rucksack with two months of hiking and travelling in mind, as well as life in Berlin. Even with my large back pack, I knew all I really needed were my passports (Swiss dual citizenship meant I didn’t need a visa), my travel card and my phone. Plus, a laptop for uni.
I started my journey hopping around Switzerland, either hiking in the Alps alone, or planning the next hike with local friends. Then onwards to England and Ireland, where I played in an annual International Ultimate Frisbee Tournament, called the Dublin Golden Cup. I thank the heavens for alternative methods of travel and the endlessly kind people who facilitate it, because social networking and Couch Surfing have taken care of me (and my bank account) for six weeks as I’ve travelled through Switzerland, England, Ireland, Sweden, and a small stint in Denmark. I’m now sitting in Keflavik Airport (Reykjavik), Iceland, about to head off on an 11 day road trip across to Egilsstadir on the east coast. Then, at long last, I’ll be excited to fly to Berlin and begin student life and studies!
Julia Spragg, 98053539, Bachelor of Communication (Public Communication) Bachelor of Creative Intelligence and Innovation, Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft Berlin, Germany