Thank you for being so wonderful

Thank you for being so wonderful

Gia from Finland, Summer Semester 2014

Time sure flies. It’s almost the end of my exchange semester at RheinAhrCampus. I remember when I first told my friends about the situation here, they were like: “Oh… That’s quite tough”. They had their reasons, though. Only five exchange students as well as living and studying in a small town sure makes you think of nothing but extreme boredom. However, hold your horses, buddies. RheinAhrCampus and Remagen unexpectedly give me plenty of reasons to stay, events to reminisce about and valuable experiences to bring back.

First of all, also the most emotional of all, RAC gives me an identity. I am no longer a common student; I am “the” exchange student. This is where having a small group of exchange students becomes a true advantage. Everyone knows you. Everyone notices you. Degree students approach you discussing going abroad. And from time to time, you are introduced to the top people of the university. Here you can feel that you are treated like a special person. Your differences are appreciated. In addition, I was invited to many activities and events promoting internationality, which especially needed exchange students. Especially. It may sound strange, but has your home university ever needed especially you? It’s a genuinely nice feeling, I assure you. I was elevated from being a student to “the student whose presence is of help”.

Second of all, as I have mentioned before, I participated in many activities and thus gained considerable first-hand and first-time experiences. I was interviewed, for the first time in my life. I was interviewed for the podcast “Absolutely Intercultural”. I was sharing my thoughts and experiences in going abroad. Being recorded sure was awkward, but fun at the same time. Moreover, as part of the International Business Simulations course, we conducted a press conference. A real press conference. And I actually gave a presentation in that conference. A  nerve-wracking but fascinating experience, I admit.  Also, I was a booth presenter in the Open Campus Day and International Day at RAC. Booth presenter turned out to be not an easy job at all. It requires the skills to naturally approach people and attract them to your booth. It was indeed one of my best and most challenging experiences at RAC. I was born shy; therefore, telling me to approach strangers and “lure” them to the booth was like “mission impossible”. Still, I managed to pull it off after a long mental fight. And that actually made me quite proud of myself. I successfully did what I had hated to do.

Third of all, Germans are genuinely lovable. Maybe it is my luck that I have met only nice people so far, or maybe there are just so many nice people here. Co-students smiled at me and said hi to me whenever we met in Wohnheim. They invited us to their BBQs. As long as it was within their capabilities, they definitely helped us. I still remembered this one German guy that spent almost an hour just to fix Giedre’s internet access. And we had never talked to him previously. Before this exchange semester, I had somehow regarded Germans as extreme workaholics with always stern expressions. How terribly wrong I was. After interacting with my German friends, I realized: “Hey, they’re just like me!” They indeed are time-efficient and hard-working; but they do play hard and enjoy hard as well. Lesson for myself: things are not how they are heard.

Finally, also the most unexpected of all, there are so many things to do here in Remagen. There is a gym, swimming pool, camping sites, recreational areas, nice restaurants, etc. Additionally, from Remagen, it’s super easy to go to Cologne, Bonn and Koblenz, especially with the student ticket. Actually, what I usually do is just hop on the train whenever I feel like going somewhere. It’s that simple. Moreover, there were many trips arranged for exchange students. I was able to join two trips, one to Marksburg and one to Munich. True enlightenment. They did give me a better look at Germany and its history, as well as its subcultures.

In short, I always believed my exchange semester would be beneficial; and it turns out wonderful. I was raised from a student to THE student. I was of help. I participated in many activities that I had never tried out before. I discovered more about myself, including my new ambition. I am inspired to keep on internationalizing myself. I now have a strong urge to explore more parts of the world. I also made friends that I do wish to keep in touch with even when I go back. I say, I gave much during this semester abroad, but I received tenfold. I say, I chose RAC, and RAC chose me as well.