The week that felt like a year.
I arrived in Wismar, Germany on the 12th of September and will admit, it wasn’t the most amazing start. I got to my accommodation (which at the time I thought was totally average) and arrived to find no one was there, there was no Wifi, no pillow, no sheets, no shops open and 98% percent of Wismar’s population only spoke German. As the University didn’t offer on-campus accommodation, I was in a student building that only had 15 other people, most of which didn’t speak english and none of which were Internationals. I felt incredibly lost and after a two plane, two train journey, I just wanted to call home. It got to 2am and I decided to find the next closest apartment with a light on, which happened to be 2 buildings down and like a crazy woman, asked to be buzzed in, knocked on their third level apartment, and used their wifi. It just so happens that when I started my Masters degree, the same guy that let me use his laptop at 2am happens to be the only local German in my course, and we’re great friends now.
The second day got better, I went to the international office to request to be moved into a large student dormitory that would have other International students and was introduced to a Masters student who could speak great English and helped internationals out, his name is Tor Sten. That day he took me on tours of the dorms which funnily enough did not even compare to the waterfront three bedroom apartment I was living in, so I stayed and now have two German roommates who are both awesome. In the process of taking me to get an internet cable, my student documents, a city tour and a sim card, I met three other exchange students who were also having troubles, and I’m so lucky I did. Since that beginning, and the incredibly helpful intervention of the International Office, it’s almost been a week and I’ve done so many incredible things.
I don’t really know what the best advice is to give but I’ll share with you what I’ve learnt in the short ten days I’ve been here:
1.Hang in there. You may feel when you get wherever you want to go that you can’t do it, that no one can understand you, or that every small thing seems impossible but I guarantee you, exchange will only get better with every day and be proud that you made the journey.
2. I still have no functioning simcard, no bank account and limited ‘wifi’ that can only be used by a cable, so if you’re looking for a big city like Sydney, Wismar isn’t the place. However, it’s beautiful in so many other small ways, and nothing like anything I’ve ever experienced.
3. Every culture is different and there is so much to learn. I’ve now met people from over twenty-two countries, all the way from New Zealand to Morocco and am fascinated by every single one. The amazing thing about exchange is the rollercoaster of feelings you’re feeling, someone else is most definitely feeling too. There will always be people to help.
4. Germany is an incredible place to travel and access so many other European countries. It’s worth the trip!
Still pinching myself that I’m in this incredible place, I would highly recommend the University to anyone who loves architecture, small, unique things, and the opportunity to meet so many different people in the one place.
UTS: Masters of Design (Architectural Lighting)
University of Wismar