Josef is currently studying abroad at the University of Tubingen with his Henley Business School degree at Reading. Read on to find out how he settled into German life for his third year abroad.
Around one month ago now, I packed my case and woke up at 3.30am for my flight. Once on the flight, in between attempting to catch up on some much needed sleep, I was full of mixed emotions from excited to straight up scared. Then after a long day of travelling, I finally arrived at my flat… only to be greeted by nobody. Unlike Uni at home students don’t have to move out of their rooms at the end of each year, this means that many stay in the same rooms for their full degree. This also means that there is no specific moving in date like at home.
A few very unhelpful emails with the accommodation team here in Tübingen followed where I was told most students would be arriving from the start of September to the middle of October. I decided to arrive bang in the middle of those dates. Big mistake. Over a third of the population of Tübingen are students, so when those students aren’t here the place turns into a bit of a ghost town.
However, I thought I’d make the most of the quietness and enrol at the university and open a bank account. But this leads me on to the second thing they don’t tell you about moving to Germany and that is that German efficiency is largely a myth. Where as in Reading, you receive your university card within 5 minutes of arrival on moving in day; here it required going to 6 or 7 different buildings and to make that even more complicated it has to be done in a specific order and most of those buildings are only open between 9 and 11.30am.
My first three weeks here could be described as unremarkable, dull and very lonely as I only had one flat mate who would occasionally be in Tübingen to do something with and get some much needed social contact.
Then it all changed. The students arrived. On the first official day of university in October, I attended a Meet and Greet for other internationals and a few German students too. An awkward event to begin with, but the awkwardness soon left and the event ended with a group of us going out for drinks afterwards. Since that day, study abroad has genuinely lived up to all expectations.
A lot of fun has followed with the most diverse, if not random, friendship group I have ever been part of, including Germans, Australians, New Zealanders, Russians, Danes and Americans. Since meeting we have explored this beautiful university town by day, but mainly by night. Thanks to all the students, Tübingen has the youngest average age of anywhere in Germany and so it’s fair to say we aren’t short of bars or clubs. The second bonus to going out here is that most regular bars have prices more similar to that of the Union at home and the uni-owned bars here are usually about half that price. So win win all round.
When it comes to the academic side of things, it’s more difficult to say what it’s going to be like as lectures only started last week. Although I have noticed a few things they do differently here already. After my first lecture last week I began packing my things away, only to be given the fright of my life when all the other students started bashing on their desk. I later found out they do this as a way of showing their appreciation to the lecturer; but when you’re not expecting it, it sure does make you jump! Another thing is if you find 9am lectures too early at home, try an 8am start where you sit in class and watch the sunrise.
All in all, after a difficult first 3 weeks here, the last 2 weeks have made up for it. The main things I’ve taken from the experience so far is to take the rough with the smooth as any negative experiences are soon outweighed by the many positive ones.