Tips for YOU – the future exchange student at RheinAhrCampus

Tips for YOU – the future exchange student at RheinAhrCampus

Kristina from Lithuania, Summer Semester 2014

My exchange year experience report: Tips for YOU – the future exchange student at RheinAhrCampus

One year is a relatively long time. But this time it passed by as if it was one month.

I found new friendships, new professional and personal qualities and new aspirations for my future. I am a completely changed person now and only for the positive. I will never forget this time and those memories bring only joy…

I want to share some tips with you that I believe would help to maximize your experience of an exchange semester in Remagen.

  1. Take pictures and ask other people to take pictures with you whenever it is possible. Even if you usually hate it, after some time you will not regret to have those experiences documented. My parents gave me a new photo camera when I came here. I cannot imagine a better gift for an exchange year now.
  2. Collect little souvenirs, try writing a diary. I collected German beer caps for example. Or all tickets of my travels (even entrance cards to the parties). When I look at these collections, a great variety of funny moments appear in my mind. Writing a diary is not for everyone, I guess, I always was a diary writer, it just helps me to keep that inner balance. But in this year it was special, because I have a book full of crazy adventures and I will never be able to forget these good times because of it.
  3. Think how you want to be remembered by others. Try to stand out of the crowd a bit. If you came with one or two other persons from your country keep in mind that you might be remembered as just the Italians or the Norwegians.
  4. There are exchange student communities all over the place and they are easy to find. Take advantage of your student card which enables you to travel from Koblenz to Cologne as much as you want. These cities, including Bonn, are also university cities with certain populations of exchange students. There are even bigger chances for you to make friends and network socially than you would first assume. During my year I saw others who were complaining how small Remagen is and that they don’t know anybody here, yet they were not actually doing anything to change it.
  5. Another great chance to grow your acquaintance circle besides going to classes is taking advantage of extracurricular activities offered to you here at RAC. There are soccer playing groups, badminton, table tennis, tennis, jogging groups etc.Even if you are not particularly outgoing, when you keep bumping into the same people at after-class activities, house parties or in the campus canteen, eventually you will find a topic to discuss.
  6. Nobody knows you here – why not try out something new concerning how you used to behave. If you are shy and quiet all your life, why not try and be the center of attention for once. Maybe try to be sporty for one day – initiate a hike to the woods. It may still sound unrealistic to you but try to think about it as if you had nothing to lose: it is your time to get to know yourself better and collect new experiences. What if one evening with others you initiate a trip to a pub or nice park to hang out there. Try out being a leader, even in little tasks. Or if you usually are the leader and executor of group plans, why not try out being one of the followers. You might be surprised what you may learn about yourself.
  7. Show initiative: don’t be afraid to take on tasks or opportunities life here presents to you. I was offered an internship at the International Office only because I was not afraid to raise my hand for the first task that was presented to me.
  8. Not the others, you are responsible for the quality of your exchange semester experience. I can assure you that people at the International Office will do their best to make you feel welcome and help you integrate faster. But they will not drag you out of your room or take you out to meet new friends (well, sometimes even that happens but that is not the point). I saw somebody claiming that it is quite boring and awful here while I was having the time of my life. Don’t expect that there will always be somebody to entertain you: sometimes it is more useful to entertain yourself.
  9. Don’t be lazy to learn at least some German. I know, when you can speak English it’s easy to get around everywhere but it is a part of your experience to get to know the German culture and the language is a huge part of it. Ask your new German friends to teach you funny phrases. This is a good start as well as a lot of fun. It was a good social ice breaker to ask others how can I say this or if I understand it correctly when it is written or said in German. I created a souvenir of a folder with all kind of notes and sheets of paper with some German sentences or words that I heard or was told and it is fun to look at it and remember those situations. Also it stays in my head that way.

Writing these points, I realized that some of them I already heard from one great teacher the first week I came here in September. You might hear them too. But that is just perfect. Because they are important.

Don’t make your exchange semester a lazy holiday time. Make it matter, make it count.

Therefore, you might end up as happy and satisfied as I am with my experience.

Best of luck in beautiful Remagen!