The Adventure Begins

Sarah McNeil

Semester 2, 2027 exchange to Mannheim University

It is the beginning of my third week in Mannheim and classes begin tomorrow. It’s strange trying to organise myself for a university I know nothing about! Mannheim University is set out across the city, with the main building being the Palace (yes, I’m going to uni in a palace! The temptation to turn up in a tiara is almost overwhelming).

Life as a student overseas is strange, I’m having a constant battle between treat yourself and save money!! I came to Germany with a friend from my course and we have been lucky enough to organise ourselves so that we can travel almost every weekend.

Before I came here everyone kept telling me that you can travel for “SO CHEAP” because “YOU’RE ALREADY IN EUROPE.” Unfortunately, I have found this to be only partly true. You can travel relatively cheaply as long as you don’t mind taking a 13-hour bus and flights are only cheap if you by then months in advance, SO get looking.

There were a couple of things that people kept telling me before I got here that unfortunately, I have found to be myths. So for those who will come after me, I leave this advice:

– “Don’t worry about learning German, they all speak English” – this was proved completely incorrect while I struggled to communicate with the lady at Aldi that I wanted a SIM card and €20 credit…..3 weeks later I had a non-functioning German sim
– “You can get flights for like $50” – I have no idea where these magical flights are or how you access such sorcery, but let me tell you this, that is “Fake News”
– “If you can’t afford to fly just get a train there! There are trains everywhere in Europe” – often these trains end up being more expensive than the actual flights! I was trying to get from Madrid to Barcelona and the train cost $200 and a one-way flight cost $90….guess which one I chose?

Please don’t be fooled to think that I’m not travelling!! Quite the opposite, so far I have been to:
Spain
France
Italy
Turkey
And will soon travel to Berlin, Munich and hopefully Budapest and Prague 😊

My tips for next years students would be, don’t believe everything you hear, learn the language, save money for travel because it’s not as cheap or easy as you would think and pack conditioner!!!! Lots and lots of conditioner!!! For some reason, the Europeans are not fans of conditioner