Stays abroad enrich personal development and offer unforgettable moments that you will never forget for the rest of your life. Martin Dinter, research assistant in our department, spent a total of eight months of his studies in Finland. In this article he would like to show you 3 important aspects which you should consider for a great stay abroad.
Tip 1: Seek contact with international students and the locals
I would recommend all students to seek contact with international students and especially with the locals. It is tempting to simply join the other German-speaking students on site. But no one will be able to introduce you to the local culture better than the locals (best tip: use beer as a sauna infusion, then jump into the snow) and with no one will you be able to improve your foreign language skills better than with people who do not speak your native language.
Tip 2: Be open to new and unpredictable things
In a foreign country, you get to know yourself. You have to reckon with new and irritating experiences and can profit most from them if you consciously get involved in them. In general, you have to prepare yourself for the fact that half of it will not go as planned. I got lost so many times in the Finnish forests that at one point I feared I would not return home.
Tip 3: Take advantage of the exchange program offered by your university
The exchange office offered many activities, e.g. trips to Novgorod and St. Petersburg, to Stockholm or to Lapland (outside temperature -42°C, northern lights and reindeers - even if it sounds touristic, you rarely get opportunities in such an atmosphere). Trust the local institutions. Even if it seems tempting at first, you do not have to plan everything on your own. For me, it was also this intensive program that made the semester abroad so diverse and exciting. It was not just an extended stay in a foreign country and likewise not just an academic trip or an opportunity to meet new people or yourself - it was all of those things together.
I can advise all students who can take the opportunity of a semester abroad to do so. It is an incomparable experience and there are good reasons why so many take it up and why the reports are always so positive.
Reports on study abroad experiences from our students:
Northern lights in Finland. Photo: Pexels/Tuomas Haapala