Gauss-Telegraph: My stay in Braunschweig
by Karolina Kołodziejczyk
It is believed that a semester or a year abroad is one of the best experiences in someone’s life and as a person who did such an exchange at the TU Braunschweig, I can confirm that. I come from Poland, which is not a very diverse country when it comes to religions, skin colours and the languages spoken. Hence, this experience was highly beneficial for me and I would recommend it to everyone who is considering it.
This exchange allowed me to surround myself with lots of international friends with whom I travelled through Germany. We all attended Gauss Friends’ events and that was the best place to meet international friends, from my experience. These weekly themed meetings were definitely highlights of my weeks and they were also quite educational, since I got the chance to learn about other countries and eat some traditional vegan food. The fact that the Student ID works as a semester ticket for public transport in Braunschweig and the regional trains in the Lower Saxony makes it easy to commute and travel to other cities and explore them. Other benefits of the Student ID are having a discount at the university cafeterias and being able to use the Student ID as a theatre ticket. It allows you to attend theatre plays free of charge, apart from the premieres. Being abroad for a semester is also a learning experience- you have to adapt to a new environment and you’re in charge of your own money and time, so you should plan them wisely. It’s a crucial lesson in being responsible. You are also exposed to another language on daily basis, which is the best way to learn it, even if it’s just the basic phrases. The knowledge of English is useful in Germany, but there will be times when the other person will speak only German. The system at the TU Braunschweig was also something I had to get used to, but once I did, I really enjoyed the classes. The main focus was on self-studying, but the lectures and tutorials were well organised to make it easier for a student to be successful with it.
Although I consider my stay in Braunschweig to be one of the best periods of my life, I must admit the challenges it came with. The preparations and the paperwork were tough, since there were a lot of things which needed to be taken care of before I could go to Germany. For example, a few types of insurance, which my Polish university required, as well as the accommodation which was a struggle on its own. I got a room quite late, but I was still lucky, because I know people who didn’t get one until a week or two of already being in Braunschweig, so they used the services of Couchsurfing. I also had to create a Euro account in my Polish bank to receive the Erasmus grant, but as I came to Braunschweig, it turned out that I need another bank account based in Germany to pay for my dormitory.
Even though I came across many challenges during my exchange semester, I also made numerous joyful memories and that made it all worth it. Even the stressful situations were beneficial to me as a person, because they allowed me to feel more comfortable in uncomfortable times. I consider myself very lucky, because I had incredible people around me. They also made this experience unforgettable.