First time abroad
Hi, I am Elene, a 20-year-old exchange student from Georgia. I want to tell you about my first experience abroad in Germany.
Before coming here, I knew that I would see an interesting mixture of people from different cultures but it was several days after the first international meeting that I realized that I was having fun with 12 other people from 6 different countries near the river Rhein in Remagen. That felt amazing. Experiencing this kind of diversity at the age of 20 sounds like a good international start for exploring the world, which, in turn, is one of my goals.
Though it was still called “Semester in the pandemic”, I felt like a bird. Despite the mandatory quarantine I had to do after arrival and several weeks of curfew we had to be careful with, I felt the freest that I have ever been in my student years. Where does the freedom come from in your exchange semester in Germany? It’s the people and occasions around you for sure. I feel like I will never forget how we, Georgians, tried so hard to buy the first train ticket from Dusseldorf to Leverkusen to reach Remagen afterward. I still have that ticket though. On every step I took while landing in Germany in March of 2021, I felt like every breath was new for me and that I haven’t experienced anything like this before. I was like a sponge absorbing every detail I saw. I have heard a lot about Germany from my parents who visited this country before I was born, so the stories from them were not so much up to date. However, I was very lucky to have the most German flatmate ever who would tell me each and every important detail about Germany, its history, culture, and rules that I had to know while living here. I spent 6 months living in a shared apartment with my German friend and now, he can already sing in Georgian. Celebrating Georgian Easter in Germany, and making students from 6 different nationalities taste Georgian traditional food called “Khachapuri” are my stories to tell to my friends and family back in Georgia. I met beautiful people here in Remagen. Now, I have the list of places where people will be waiting for me in India, Jordan, Albania, Azerbaijan, Germany, and many more places over the globe. I experienced the Indian color festival “Holi”, and several celebrations with my Muslim friends here. We tasted delicious Azerbaijani food for the Eid celebration after the month of Ramadan.
Becoming independent and making own decisions were highly supported by Sprachen/Internationales Team. I have never had any other exchange semester experience before, but I have to mention how the team is oriented on student development here. There are goals set for your improvement from the beginning and trust me, at the end of the semester, you feel that the goals have been reached. Even in a pandemic, you never pause here, and that is what makes a semester in Remagen special for me.
I have taken an academic internship here in Sprachen/Internationales. I have to admit that the environment, which was waiting for me to work in, made me feel the strongest in what I have been working on for the first time. Soon after I started my internship, I felt like whenever I go back to Georgia, all the doors would be open for me and nothing could stop me to find what I looked up to careerwise or personally.
I had one of the most interactive International Business Simulations courses, where I experienced being a Human Resources manager for a green-oriented startup company. That was a moment when I kind of switched from studying finances to getting into the management field and I liked it very much that it made me think about different directions in my career. Additionally, working for Social Media Facebook team and being a course assistant made me experience the real international working environment in Germany. Even free time was very informative and interesting here. Visiting places with people from around the world could become addictive. I have visited cities in Germany like Trier, Lindau, Munich, Hamburg, and also, we went outside the country, visiting Luxemburg, Belgium.
During the whole semester, I never felt like stopping. New tasks, events, activities, people were coming after each other. I have participated in the International Week 2021, which is the highlight of the international approach here in RAC. I took English courses with German students, organized international gatherings, and enjoyed the diversity that we had all together.
A whole big piece of support from the people around me helped to make this change. I am grateful for my friends and family and home university back in Georgia and the team of Sprachen/Internationales which became another family in Germany for me.
One thing I would suggest myself earlier would be to do the exchange semester as early as you get the chance. You will never forget the memories you make, the people you meet, and the knowledge you get during your semester.
Little town Remagen in Germany became truly like a second home for me. Beautiful memories related to the semester in RheinAhrCampus will always stay with me.