It barely feels like two minutes since I had just arrived and was writing my first blog post. Erasmus so far really is flying by and I’m sure it will continue to do so. Since the last time of writing the main difference is the weather, which has gone from t-shirt weather in mid October to near constant freezing temperatures and a lot of snow. Thankfully I missed the coldest period of weather over Christmas when it dropped to -13 causing the River Neckar, which runs directly through the middle of Tübingen, to freeze completely over.
Whilst being here, I have been attempting to make the most of the fact travelling around Europe is so easy, partly helped by friends from all corners of the globe wanting to make the most of their time in Europe by travelling around and dragging us Europeans with them. We had a weekend in Munich (only 3 hours by coach) which involved a lot of walking before deciding to go to one of the cities many beer halls, before moving on and settling in a quieter bar followed by a night out. Also I have had many trips to the city of Essen to visit family and be fed like a king by a Nan who thinks students don’t eat, not that I’m complaining. Although these trips did mean I missed out on weekends away in Paris, Hamburg, Switzerland and hiking in the Black Forest (being a city kid, I was quite glad I missed out on the hiking though). Last weekend, we visited Strasbourg for the day, just over the French border from Germany and only took around two and a half hours and 10 euros by train (a much quicker train is possible, but it is almost twice the price of my flights back to the UK). We did all the usual sights in Strasbourg such as the Cathedral and European Parliament, before getting the train back and getting ready for a friend’s birthday night out. There’s already a couple of future trips planned such as Berlin, Aarhus in Denmark and hopefully Italy to visit some fellow UoR Erasmus students.
On the work front, lectures continue to tick over and I still can’t get used to the 8am lectures. Another big difference with uni over here is the term structure which I’m still finding a little bit odd. The winter semester here goes from mid October to mid February with exams at the end of February and just two short weeks off for Christmas. After exams have finished in February, I will be off until mid April when the summer semester begins, which then runs to August. Having the whole of March off does somewhat make up for the very short Christmas holiday and gives me a chance to go home to visit family and friends as well hopefully giving me a chance to get down to Reading as well. The work aspect is a big part of being here in Tübingen and getting a German perspective on my course is fascinating and I’m sure will prove beneficial by the time final year comes around or even, dare I say it, the world of work that comes after. But by far and a way the biggest thing I have taken out of my time here so far is the social aspect and it is the same for just about every exchange student I know or have met. Having friends from every continent around the world isn’t just interesting, it also means I will have somewhere to stay should I ever visit Australia, China, Russia, etc. Nights out also prove to be interesting as well as funny, as all the different cultures surrounding nights out clash like the Russians genuine hate for beer but love of spirits; the Danes’ love for drinking songs; and the Australians and Kiwis drinking from shoes (this really is as grim as it sounds).
As exam season begins to approach here, the whole uni seems to be slowing down a little and preparing, so roll on the end of February when exams are out the way and then roll on mid April and the start of the summer semester.