I initially decided to put myself forward to study abroad as I liked the thought of going travelling and visiting new countries, but applying to study abroad was still quite daunting. The main concerns I had about studying abroad were not knowing anybody and living in a country that had a different language and culture than I was used to. I knew that participating in studying abroad would help improve my CV and help me stand out when applying for future jobs and decided my fears were minimal compared to the opportunity I was being given. When I found out I had been given a place at Cologne Business School (CBS) in Germany I was excited to start my adventure, even though Cologne was somewhere I had actually never heard of!
It’s safe to say the process before going abroad is not always straightforward. From submitting the expression of interest form online to accepting your place at a university abroad, there is a lot of paperwork included. Due to the fact I went abroad in semester one (second year), I spent a fair bit of time during summer preparing and organising. I was not able to get halls in Cologne as there were none left when I applied, therefore, I had to source my own accommodation. This was really challenging as I did not know my way around the city and where the best location to live would be, but eventually another student from RGU and I managed to get apartments together.
During my first few weeks in Germany I was really taken aback by just how different life would be living there, it was a huge culture shock. Furthermore, the language barrier was something I hadn’t really considered, I just assumed that most of the public would speak English as well as German, but this was not the case. Studying at CBS was also unbelievably different from RGU as it was much smaller and modules ran differently. Even though the lectures were taught in English, the interactive lectures lasted three hours but there were no tutorials. I enjoyed the range of modules available as they were not completely the same to the ones offered at RGU. I am thankful I decided to do a module to learn German as it was so helpful not only at university but very useful in day to day life.
Throughout my study abroad experience, I also did a lot of travelling as Cologne was in a perfect location to take a trip to surrounding countries. I managed to adventure to Belgium for the chocolate, Amsterdam for the culture and lively atmosphere, Paris for the wine and snails and Munich for Oktoberfest! Another favourite thing about my time in Cologne was experiencing the German Christmas markets – the Germans really take it to a different level, the markets were amazing!
Reflecting back on my time abroad I realise now how invaluable my time studying abroad really was, I am so glad I pushed myself out of my comfort zone to participate in the study abroad program. I feel my experience helped me become more independent as a person and definitely boosted my confidence at the same time. I would have never had the opportunity to visit all these different countries if I hadn’t chosen to study abroad and meet new people. I would highly recommend any students who are considering studying abroad to put all of your concerns to one side and just do it, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity!