Exchange Alumni Say…

Rachel (exchange at the Universität Konstanz):

“As I reflect back on my year abroad I still cannot believe what an amazing experience I had, and how much I have learned both in and outside of the classroom…. A few years ago I would have never even considered stepping outside of my comfort zone and studying in another country, but after coming to Konstanz I couldn’t imagine my life any other way. This year has offered me so many invaluable learning opportunities, and I am so thankful for that!”

Toby (exchange at the Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen):

“Reflecting back on all the amazing experiences and opportunities I had while abroad makes me realize just how lucky I was to take part in the OBW program. I had studied German at York for 3 years purely for my own interest and decided, ‘where better to put my knowledge to the test than in Germany?’. I spent 11 months studying at Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen completing Psychology and Deutsch als Fremdsprache courses. I also worked for 3 months in a lab at the university’s Psychologisches Institut, helping with research on a new treatment method for adults with ADHD. A lot of learning also took place outside of the classroom. Through making new friends, visiting new places and even trying new foods, I learned so much about myself and my goals for the future and I have become a more well-rounded, open-minded and happier person! I hope that other students take advantage of the OBW program and get the opportunity to experience all the amazing things that Germany has to offer!”

Adriel (exchange at the Universität Stuttgart):

“These six months have been some of the best of my life – studying abroad has opened me up to so many people from so many cultures, and so many different places that I’d have never experienced otherwise. As I’m writing this, I’m in the last days of my exchange, still travelling and exploring, and it’s a little difficult to adequately put this experience in words…. Studying here in Stuttgart was incredible. I was able to be part of a very close- knit group of international students from all over the world, who I was very lucky to travel with, and to party with, and who I am very happy to call my friends. I’m very glad to have done this, although I’m a bit sad that it’s coming to an end. Going on exchange has been a whole six months of amazing, and I wouldn’t hesitate to do it all over again.”

Anne (exchange at the Universität Konstanz):

“I was lucky enough to travel to 16 different countries while I was studying in Germany. Although school is important, the experiences gained and the different cultures and people I grew to know were second to none. These experiences helped me grow as an individual and helped me realize the type of person I want to become. I met some of the most amazing people while I was abroad, and I realized how important it was to treasure those relationships, when I was so far away from home…. The great friends I made throughout the year were the highlight of the experience! I met people from all over the world, whether from Italy, Germany, Brazil, South Korea, or even Kyrgyzstan. It was great to see people from very different cultural and religious backgrounds come together and get along perfectly. I travelled with some of these friends, and a few truly left a lasting impression on me. The experience just reinforced how wonderful a student exchange can be. I also began to develop a new perspective on my own country, as I listened to other people talk about their home countries, including Germany. Having been able to meet so many different people really helps you to be even more open- minded. Safe to say I will definitely be visiting some, and hopefully some will come to Canada to visit as well!”

Alex (exchange at the Karlsruher Institut für Technologie):

“If you are considering an exchange program or just a semester abroad, I encourage you to not be afraid to take a leap of faith and challenge yourself! You might be surprised with what you are truly capable of achieving and just how far you can push your own boundaries.”

Murray (exchange at the Universität Mannheim):

“Meeting people from all over the world, learning from them and sharing crazy new experiences through travel can do so much to expand your mind and way of thinking. The world for me has changed in amazing ways thanks to the people that I am now happy to call my friends. Of course, there is the study aspect of it as well, which you should always hold yourself responsible for. But for me, the real learning aspect came from the relationships that I made and the people whom I grew to love and who taught me so much…. To sum it up, the things you will take away from your exchange will be innumerable. There will be things you did not like and there will be things you loved and will miss (friends). If you take part in this exchange, it will change you, these new experiences will now be a part of you, and you will have grown a lot more too (figuratively and literally, I grew 2 cm while I was there! First time in 5 years that that has happened – maybe it was the bread).”

Alyssa (exchange at the Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen):

“I left for Tübingen in September full of excitement and anticipation for my year abroad. I imagined it would be an extremely strenuous, studious year that would at times make me go a little crazy, but, in the end, would be an academic triumph. While this year has definitely had its academic challenges, I now know a year abroad entails a whole lot more than just studying! This has been the cultural experience of a lifetime, more fantastic than I could have imagined and absolutely different from my initial expectations…. A year abroad is what you make of it and every single exchange student I have talked to has come out with a completely unique story. Some have worked tirelessly at improving their German, while others came with no intention of learning the language and took all courses in English. Some focused their travel on Baden?Württemberg, while others were gone every weekend to a new country. There is no right way to do an exchange year. For me, this has been a cultural experience. I have learned about and lived so many different cultures and am leaving with an overwhelmingly international group of friends. While I embraced Germany, its language and its ways, I visited countries all over Europe as well and was able to stay with those international friends that I met in Tübingen. My year in Tübingen has been too amazing to put into words on just a few pages. It was not what I expected it to be, but that is part of what has made it so wonderful. If I can leave you with one last piece of advice it’s this: Embrace everything! Take every opportunity you’re presented with and seize every chance to do something new! No experience is a bad experience. As the saying was among the exchange students this year, on a year abroad, be ‘immer dabei!'”

Rian (exchange at the Universität Mannheim):

“I’m very lucky and fortunate to become an exchange student from Ontario, representing my university and didn’t take anything for granted. This exchange was for me the most memorable event in my academic studies. I made so many friends, lived a totally different lifestyle, and got to experience unforgettable journeys. Going to a different culture to study in a different university can be daunting and scary but, a rewarding experience.”

Nikolays (exchange at the Universität Hohenheim):

“All in all it was a fantastic year abroad and I cannot wait to return to Germany. I think it was an amazing experience for me to not only see Germany but to have the opportunity to actually live there. There are so many great people and experiences I will never forget and I feel that I really grew personally because it was also my first year living away from home. I also think a one year exchange gives you a lot of time to really experience Germany and its culture and I have truly learned so many things about actually living in Europe after this year. I also honestly felt like I was going home to my residence after a very short time which was a nice feeling. I highly, HIGHLY recommend Uni Hohenheim and personally I think doing an exchange in Germany is the best. I wish everyone heading to Germany the best of luck? you will have so much fun!”

Jillian (exchange at the Albrecht-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg):

“This exchange has been the greatest experience of my life! The closer I get to the end of my exchange, the more I realize how much I have loved it here in Germany and how much I will miss Freiburg when I go home!”

Sadie (exchange at the Universität Ulm):

“Everything about the exchange exceeded all my expectations: the skills I would learn, the friendships I would make and the hardships I would face. I met so many people not only from Germany, but all over the world. Learning about so many different cultures outside of my own was very interesting and eye-opening. My German improved far more than I could have imagined, especially my understanding and speaking skills. My social skills and ability to adapt to new environments also improved beyond what I thought they would. There were a lot more challenges I faced on the trip then I originally expected. The biggest difficulty for me was loneliness. Making a new set of close friends can be a struggle, especially at the beginning. I have now learned that being open about yourself is key to speeding up the friendship process. My study abroad was a life changing experience…. Even through all the difficulties, I am incredibly happy with my exchange experience. There were so many fun times and so many good friends. I still keep in contact with the majority of the friends I made and I cannot wait to go visit them in my future travels. Coming back to Canada, I really miss life in Ulm. It was different and difficult to get used to, but now I find myself wishing I could have stayed longer.”

Lingxiao (exchange at the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg):

“I come from China originally and I am an international student myself in Canada. I knew before how living in a different environment can change me and help me explore a “new me” hidden inside. I’m a slow learner – it took me half a year to speak okay English in Canada and another half a year to speak okay/everyday German in Germany but I will never regret the time that has been spent; and I would regret not spending time abroad knowing that I’d have so much amazing memories with the people I’d never have met if I stayed in China or Canada. So please, no more hesitation, just go for it and create your own best memories of your life.”

Maria (exchange at the Albrecht-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg):

“Overall, my year in Freiburg has been unbelievably rewarding and I would recommend to anyone considering doing a year abroad, to take the plunge and never look back. Most people aren’t lucky enough to have the opportunity to live for one year in a place of their choice, simply to experience another cultural and have an adventure, so take this opportunity. Going abroad through OBW also helped me meet a lot of great people and through the staff’s assistance helped me to be very well prepared before I left for Germany.”

Amy-Jayne (exchange at the Karlsruher Institut für Technologie):

“Just go! Go on an exchange. Go and learn another language. Go and travel. Go and push your comfort level.”