Students' Experiences First Chapter of my Year in Germany

Nasrin from Israel, Winter Semester 2016/17

My name is Nisreen Zahalka, a 21 years old biomedical engineering student at the German Jordanian University in Amman, Jordan. My university’s regulations give us the opportunity to study for an obligatory semester at one of our partner universities in Germany and to work within the German industry for another semester.
I spent my studying semester at Hochschule Koblenz, which is one of our partner universities. At the beginning, getting to know that my major is taught at RheinAhrCampus in Remagen was a disappointment, since it’s a small old town. But after some time, that have taught me quite a lot because it made me realize that at some point a person might be relocated into a place or position that is out of his/her expectations. And since the disadvantages couldn’t be changed, I decided to neglect them and look for more advantages because I wasn’t going to waste a semester of a lifetime in disappointment. And this is how all the good things started to happen!
One day I was checking my bucket list and decided that by the end of this semester, I wanted to have had checked at five things done off that list. And that’s how I started learning 10 new words of a different language everyday for a month. The fact that I have met a lot of exchange students from different countries around the world that were studying in the nearby cities of Bonn and Cologne made the challenge easier and let me make friends that will last for life. Another check on the list was for visiting buildings in different countries that were designed by my idol and favorite architect, Zaha Hadid. I have as well got the chance to take myself on a solo weekend trip and travel to beautiful Brussels, which I discovered to be something worth trying at least once in a lifetime.
If I had to choose one thing to describe how this semester has affected me, I would say that it made me become more international. I have traveled to many countries in various continents before this experience, but living abroad turned out to be completely different than just traveling for a couple of days or weeks. I have met great people, been to amazing places and lived in a town that I have never imagined myself living in something as such.
On the other hand, I have learned a lot on the academic level. I have been learning German for three years before coming to Germany, but studying major-related subjects in German improved my language a lot. Along with the language barrier, it was a challenge at the beginning since the only exchange students studying biomedical engineering were all from my home university, but with the support and assistance of some professors at the Mathematik und Technik department, I was able to make it and even benefit more than I have expected. I have taken courses from three different majors, the thing that allowed me to learn more about different fields and also study some courses from a different scientific perspective.
At the end, I am proud of my personal and academic achievements during this semester. I have definitely learned a lot from the ups and downs I have been through and will encourage every student I know to go on an exchange semester and to get out of their comfort zone by experiencing something completely new.