It has most definitely been a while. Being here in a foreign country speaking to foreign people in a foreign language has been a distraction, although I am happy to say that after four months, my exchange doesn’t feel foreign anymore!
I came to this realization during my recent holiday trip to England, where I visited family and had a lovely Christmas and New Year. This was the first time I had seen any family members since I left for my exchange in September.
Naturally you’d think that by seeing family, it would make you quite homesick. This is true, but not for the country you would think!
I was indeed homesick for my host country, and when I realized this, I had a little sit, some peace and quiet with a cup of tea and really had a good look back at my time here in Munich so far.
Here is what I concluded:
With the start of classes, I couldn’t travel around as much as I know my fellow BIBers have. At first, I was quite saddened by this, but I realized something else! Since I was Germany bound, I was able to delve deeper into life in Munich, and I feel as if I have greatly benefited from this.
My last post was shortly before classes started, and I can tell you that things certainly shifted after that.
Starting university classes was interesting. There were many new people, most of them German. I still managed to meet a few international students, which was nice as we had had a few common experiences.
Meeting new people
Obviously coming to another University to study, landing in the fifth semester (our third year at Carleton), making friends in your classes can be quite hard, just like it’s hard to meet people if you changed schools in grade school. I felt like a fish out of water for the majority of the first month of classes!
Eventually I found a way in, using a few unconventional methods, I must say. I still had all my fellow exchange friends, whom I had met from the first intensive German language course, and through extensive discussion, we deduced we all had the same problem!
We did some brainstorming and thought of a few ways to meet and make some German friends, as the in-class approach wasn’t working. Now this is where I talk about the very unconventional method that was widely used with the exchange students – Tinder!
Reading this, you must think we’re all crazy, but honestly, it worked. I know the notorious application has quite a reputation in Canada but Tinder is a widely used app for meeting new people (not just for ‘hook-ups’)! I tried it and managed to meet a few people, who then introduced me to more new people and from there I was able to further my German speaking with actual locals!
We also found that going out to majority student parties was also a great way to meet new people. Eventually we used all our resources, including befriending friends’ German flatmates and we all went out together!
I am happy to say that I now have a good network of friends, both fellow exchange students and locals!
As I was saying before, school has started, and it is a much different experience to how classes run at Carleton. First off, I don’t actually need to ‘sign’ up for any lectures. All you have to do is show up to the classes you want to show up to, and then eventually sign up for the exam. This is great as it allows you to be flexible with your working schedule, but then I realized that the exam is worth your entire grade! This means that if you’re not a good test-taker, this method is not good for you!
Starting classes felt like going into first year all over again, as I had no idea what I was doing nor what to expect content wise. In some classes, I realized that I knew more than what the class was covering, but in others it was how much I didn’t know, and how ahead my fellow classmates were in the subject.
What was really interesting was experiencing the different teaching methods, and different expectations from the different professors.
Fast forward to December. I had my first exam just before the winter break, and I can honestly say it was the hardest exam I’ve ever written. The class was about evaluating financial statements and forecasting, which from the sound of it doesn’t sound too difficult.
I was very wrong.
I mean, I am in the finance stream of International Business at Carleton, and I have taken quite a few accounting classes and finance classes the past two years, but the class expectations were far greater than any business class I’d taken at Carleton.
Now a few days before the exam, my professor made an announcement to the class that stated, and I quote:
“This exam will not be easy and you most likely will not finish it.”
Anyone hearing this line a few days before an exam is bound to enter panic mode, and low and behold, the exam was exactly that—extremely hard and impossible to finish.
Exam results are still pending, but I am fairly confident that I passed! We shall see!
As well as the ups and downs of classes and the making of friends, I have managed to do a few fun touristy things—the main one being visiting almost every Christmas market in the area!
They really were very lovely, and it is such a lovely time to be in Munich, as the city really knows how to make you feel all Christmassy and ready for the break!
All in all, it’s been a crazy few months here in Bavaria. There’s now snow on the ground (quite a lot actually), but nothing compared to the Ottawa winters yet – thankfully! I also have a few more exams coming up in the next few weeks!
Hope you enjoyed reading about my life here in Munich so far! ‘Til next time 😊
Jasmine is a third-year Bachelor of International Business (BIB) student studying abroad in Germany.
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