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Semester Exchange to the Technical University of Munich – by Patrick Philbey

Going on exchange was the best choice I’ve made during my studies at Uni of Adelaide. In the middle of 2013, I made a reasonably uninformed decision about what country to choose as my top choice for an exchange. I chose Germany, mainly because I considered going to an English speaking country to be too easy, but also because I’d had a long term interest in Germany, although I’d never really acted on it. I haven’t regretted this choice for a single second.

More specifically, I chose Munich, Germany. The Bavarian Capital, the home to 90% of German stereotypes; The Lederhosen, the beer halls, the Oktoberfest, German music, the BMWs. I can confirm they’re all here. I arrived in the beginning of August, and found a room in a student to sub-lease for a month in the lead up to when uni started – The semester in Germany doesn’t start until October, so I had a long time to “wait”. Because of the semester’s late starting time, many other exchange students arrived, to look for houses, to meet people, before uni started. There was an event almost every day, and plenty to see and do with new friends. Going to bike markets, riding around the city, going to biergartens, student parties, a weekend trip to Czech Republic, all culminating with Oktoberfest in the two weeks leading up to uni. Naturally I got lederhosen, litres of beer, danced on tables, and sung German music. I made the right choice coming here.

When uni got started, nothing much had changed. The weather was still great, and we made use of it. With new friends in tow, we made a weekend trip to Slovenia, a day trip to Neuschwanstein Castle, another to Nuremberg, and another to Prague. I managed to get a bit of Uni work done here and there, but it wasn’t high on my priorities. When revising for exams, I regretted not putting in so much work during the semester, but I got there in the end!

When I got to Germany, I couldn’t put a sentence together in German; A bit of duolingo, and a 10-week “German for fun and travel” course really didn’t teach me anything; I was never really motivated enough. Getting here changed everything. It’s true that most Germans can speak English very well, but when you’re in a room full of awesome people, all speaking their home language in their home country, they aren’t going to switch over just for you. All that time I should have spent studying server clusters and wind energy was instead spent learning German, and I’ve had so much fun speaking it!

Here I’ve made friends that I will make sure I never lose touch with- people from Switzerland, Greece, Australia, Spain, France, Germany, Sweden, England, even Australia. They’ll be the reasons for me to come back for years to come. The sights and events have been amazing, but they’re second best to the people I’ve met here. I dread the day I’ll have to say goodbye.

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