The Semester Abroad
My name is Beatriz and I’m from Portugal. I study at ISCAP, Porto and my bachelor is Administrative Assistance and Translation. I’ve just spent the summer semester of 2018 at RheinAhrCampus in Germany. How this whole trip came to be is sort of unbelievable for me to this day. It was always a dream of mine to do Erasmus, but in the back of my mind, I think I was already okay with the fact that it might not even happen. Then, in a Business English class one day at my University, our teacher told us that Dr. Borgmann from a partner university, RheinAhrCampus, would come to our class. To be honest, I don’t remember much about the presentation, but I do remember that if we wanted to know more about the opportunity that was presented to us, we should reach out. And so I did! Without much thought, I just went for it, and it might be the best decision I’ve ever made!
Fast forward a year and some bureaucracy, and I’m in Remagen. The first day was terrible. I spent the whole day traveling and at the end of the day I was just exhausted emotionally and physically. But hey, if you want the rainbow you have to put up with the rain.
Studying at RheinAhrCampus and being an intern at Sprachen/Internationales were both very challenging for me. The teaching style at this university is very, very different from what I'm used to. You have to participate a lot, volunteer for tasks and when it comes to learning, you have a lot of practice rather than a lot of theory. The internship at Sprachen/Internationales was my first working experience and I have to say that I have learned a lot. I’ve made my share of mistakes and that is fine, it means I have grown during my time here in Germany. I’ve heard that if you’re not making mistakes, you’re not learning. Working with other internationals and students from RheinAhrCampus also made us all closer together and made way for new friends.
Being able to meet people from all over the world is really a blessing. I’ve learned so much not just about the German culture, but also about countries like India, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Syria, and Pakistan. In my International Business Simulation class, I was able to meet refugees and it just puts your whole life into perspective. Sometimes I have such mundane problems and the refugees cannot go back to their countries because it’s not safe, or they are searching for a better life and they have to leave their family behind most of the times. It just made me realize how grateful I am for my life.
During this semester I had the opportunity to live in a shared student apartment and I have fond memories of late night conversations and eating churchkhela, a candle like dessert from Georgia. I also hold dear to my heart all the amazing people I had the opportunity to meet, the barbecues we had together, all the adventures and the goodbyes.
Looking back on this whole 5 months, in the beginning, I didn’t really know what to expect of this whole experience but now I realize that I have grown as a person and that it was so much more than just spending a semester abroad. Living in another culture makes you realize your own, thus learning new things about you and your culture that wouldn’t be possible without getting out of your comfort zone. I have learned more than what I can put into words.