As expected it did take sometime to adapt to life in a city where I did not know anyone or was familiar with my surroundings. However, as I began to attend more social events these initial nerves dissipated as I met more people.
The University of Mannheim Exchange student program, Visum, put on weekly events for students to involve themselves in that made the socialising aspect of exchange much easier as it allowed exchange students to interact with each other in a relaxed environment.
Some challenges were faced during the enrolment period of my exchange as the enrolment process of Mannheim University was very different from that of Adelaide University and many students didn’t have their timetables finalised until a week before semester began, making it a somewhat stressful time.
Campus Life was great. The campus in itself was beautiful and there were always events for students to attend. Weekly parties and gatherings all added to a very dynamic campus life, while small class sizes allowed for students to bond and get to know each other.
The travel aspect of the exchange was certainly a highlight of my time. Germany’s central location in Europe made it very easy to travel and day trips to neighbouring countries were quiet often a weekly occurrence. I was lucky enough to have a friend from back home make the trip over and we travelled together for three weeks. We began our travels in Munich at Oktoberfest, made our way up to Berlin, then went over to Amsterdam, down through Antwerp and Brussels and ended in Paris.
Other travel highlights included Ljubljana, Lake Bled, Basel, Zurich, Budapest and Marrakech and Essaoiura in Morocco. I recommend doing as much travel as possible while on exchange as in Australia it is much more difficult for us to travel.
While Mannheim itself wasn’t a bustling metropolis, its compact size made it easy to get around and always feel close to friends, which was really important for times when you would feel a bit lonely on exchange. While I was initially underwhelmed by Mannheim it ended up being a great experience. I would highly recommend the exchange experience to anyone who is considering it as it is an experience that is almost impossible to not enjoy if you’re willing to put yourself out there for it.
An important thing to remember is that life does go on once the exchange is over. You might’ve experienced some cool things that none of your friends have, but it really doesn’t set you apart and give you a reason to think you’ve done something extremely groundbreaking.
Take it for everything it can give you but don’t let it make you affected. You meet so many people on exchange and get to see so many different perspectives that you really can’t get to caught up in your own.