Arya – Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences – Germany
Semester 2, 2022 – Semester 1, 2023
Bachelor of Business – International
Let me get something on the record right away – I knew I was going to go on an exchange year the second I found out about the BS08 degree when I was 14. I got my first job just so I could begin saving up. I thought about this year almost every day, everything about what this year could be was just so magical to me.
So naturally, when I landed in Germany in August last year, my mind was filled with as much anxiety and excitement as possible. I knew the year ahead of me was going to be something unlike anything I have experienced before and I was just so ready, after all it this year was over seven years in the making. Initially it began with meeting my floor-mates, then meeting my fellow exchange students from the host university, and finally meeting everyone else that I could possibly meet.
In the first couple weeks, I had found out that I am the only Australian in the small town of Karlsruhe. It was a bit scary at the beginning, since everyone knew someone already and there, I was, with no one. Luckily for me, I am an extremely extroverted and sociable person, so it just felt like turning the dial to 100 and going from there.
The people I started meeting were so different and unique and I loved seeing the way all these different cultures were interacting with one another. I met people from so many different nationalities, and I got to learn their languages and dances, eat their food and drinks, as well as share stories from home. It took no more than a month to find my own people and, in the end, I was no longer alone.
ESN Berlin Spree Break, 2022
The dormitory I was living in for the year – Insterburg – was home to the craziest people I have met till date. The building was home to 145 students (the majority of whom were German), and had all sorts of different personalities in there, which came together as one big and crazy family. There was always someone to do something with – whether it be hiking, day drinking, dancing, painting – name it, and someone will be available. I volunteered to be part of the bar team for the dorm, which meant I got to plan parties, bartend and drink for free (pretty good way to save money).
Group photo after hosting Karlsruhe’s first Desi party, 2023
I managed to get closer to the people I met outside of my host university’s exchange group. The people that I could call my people, were those I met randomly one night at a party, or those I met stranded waiting for the infamous German trains, or my favourite type – a friend of a friend. To those going on exchange in the future; you will be meeting at least 1000 friends of a friend, say hello to each one, because you never know which one will end up becoming your best friends.
Another huge portion of my exchange year was getting to travel. As someone who lived in Australia for most of my life, it was a bit shocking seeing just how easy it was to travel from one place to another (that is, if European trains decided that they would function properly). The first country I got to travel to outside of Germany was Luxembourg, which was literally 3.5 hours by bus. My town is also only a 45min drive away from the French border and Spain is less than a 12-hour drive from my city – you drive 12 hours North in Queensland and you are still in the same state.
Club “Karlovy Lazne” in Prague – met these girls in my hostel room, 2023
Pictured: one Aussie, one Indonesian, one Korean, one Spanish and two Canadians
Anyways, this allowed plenty of travel, in the year I had in Europe, I got to travel to 15 different countries. Additionally, due to the countries being small and close together, the cost to travel is incredibly low! In Brisbane, we would go “ah yeah, long weekend coming up, let’s go to Byron.” But here it is, “ah yeah, long weekend coming up – let’s catch the train to Amsterdam.”.
After a big game of Flunkyball in Karlsruhe, 2023
I consider myself to be quite an international person already, due to my upbringing and moving between continents in the past but I never imagined it to be this easy. I felt extremely lucky to be able to travel and experience life in this manner, from getting to eat snails in Paris to eating the famous Pastel de Nata in Lisbon to the delicious Pierogi dumplings in Warsaw. It felt so fulfilling.
Our final meeting after spending a year together, 2023
Pictured: one Aussie, one American, one Polish, one Russian and two Irish
I fully recommend doing the full international year to anyone who is thinking about it. It would easily be the best decision you’d make in your life! You get to push and open yourself to opportunities that you would never get otherwise.