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Exchange to the Technical University of Munich – by Cathryn McDonald

Spending a year at the Technical University of Munich was one of the most daunting experiences of my life, but also one of the most rewarding. Adelaide life didn’t prepare me for living at the top of the tallest building in the “Student City”, an entire suburb of student housing that is home to three thousand students. Living out of home, dealing with the infamous German bureaucracy, studying in my second language and the sun setting at 4pm during winter were just some of the differences to adjust to.

It’s amazing how easy it is to travel from Munich to anywhere in Germany or Europe. I spent weekends at music camps in picturesque Bavarian towns, visited my former host family who lived just three hours away by train, and visited Doctor Who and Top Gear locations in the UK in the semester break. Some other highlights were New Years Eve in Berlin, seeing a German musical on the Reeperbahn in Hamburg, the Distortion nightlife festival in Copenhagen and travelling to Slovenia on a bus for a music tour.

The local students I met were welcoming and enthusiastic about teaching me the finer points of Munich culture, like how to pour the perfect weissbier! I joined an orchestra and a choir in which every rehearsal ended with a visit to the pub, which was a great opportunity to practice my German. It was difficult at first to keep up with conversations, because they all spoke so fast! But after a while my language skills improved and I even ended up with a Bavarian accent.

Munich is a city full of weird and wonderful experiences. From singing Robbie Williams’s “Angels” as a thankyou to the staff at the Oktoberfest, to a music and cabaret festival in the uni’s foyers and lecture theatres, to singing in a live performance of a Lord of the Rings film, to eating beer-flavoured ice cream at a cult favourite ice cream shop, nothing was ever predictable. Many of the most wonderful experiences came from soccer. Being a Bayern Munich fan, it was amazing to have them as my “local team” in a city so soccer-obsessed that they play the club song in bars after games, even after a loss! Bayern didn’t let me down and I got to be there with thousands of fans in the town square as we celebrated winning both the German league and cup.

I was also there for the World Cup, which in Germany takes over every moment. Every game was a public viewing in beer gardens and pubs all over the city, and after every German finals win, they closed the main street for a spontaneous victory party. I’ll never forget being in a packed-to-the-rafters pub on the Leopoldstrasse as Germany thrashed Brazil 7-1, or at the public viewing in the Olympic Stadium when Germany won their fourth World Cup. It really was a special time to visit Germany this year and to be a part of sporting history… MIA SAN WELTMEISTER!

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