Finding friends and falling in love on exchange

Declan, S. Bachelor of Business
University of Mannheim, Germany. (Semester 1, 2018)

The thought of going on student exchange never crossed my mind. But one day I was just procrastinating, scrolling through the QUT website, and I came across a link that said: ‘Applications for student exchange in semester 2, 2017 close TOMORROW’. I decided to have a look and see where I could go. I had been learning German out of personal interest for about a year so I thought, why not Germany? I rushed to get my application in on time and hoped for the best, but never really gave it another thought. Then the time came to find out whether I had been accepted and I found out I was headed to the University of Mannheim! I knew it was going to be a challenge but I had no idea what was going to be in store for me, or that I was about to have the best and probably more important time of my life.

Firstly arriving in Mannheim, a small(ish) university town in South-West Germany, was quite daunting. I had to find my way to the student accommodation and check-in, all in a language, that up until that point, I had actually ever conversed in. But I managed. The reality that I was now on the other side of the world had not yet set it, but after my first few days I started to have my doubts and thought to myself, what the hell am I doing here? I was yet to make any friends and the start of the semester was still a couple of weeks away.

But the following day my luck changed. I was sitting in a cafe taking advantage of some free wi-fi when a group of people made their way in and sat next to me. They were all speaking English with various different accents and I figured they must also be exchange students. One of them asked me where I was from, and if I would like to join them. I of course agreed. After our coffees, two of the guys, one from Ireland, one from America, asked me if I’d like to come and play basketball with them. I thought to myself, this can’t be real life? Basketball is my favourite sport, which I’ve been playing since I could walk. So played I did, and continued to hang out with these guys, who have since become two of best friends, for the rest of the semester.

Playing my favourite sport

In addition to the busy university scheduled, the following six months were filled with countless nights out, parties and weekend trips to Amsterdam, Berlin, Munich and Prague. I met so many people from all over the world, fell in love with a girl from Norway, and just had so many great experiences that I will never forget.

Exploring with friends

I think it’s important to get out of your comfort zone and experience different cultures sometimes. I am so happy with my decision to go on exchange and with my time in Mannheim. I learned so much, not just the about world, but about myself. As cliché as it may be.