The Erasmus experience is unique to each student who packs their bags and heads towards Germany. And it so happens that each unique experience is marvelous in its own way. Erasmus student, Uridije Lajçi from Kosovo, has agreed to share her story with us – the good, the great, and the not-so-great. As an Erasmus student of Bachelor’s at the University of Freiburg, her semester-long journey as an international student in Germany is quite fulfilling, to say the least.
From affordability, accommodation, social life, and all the way to the university experience, here’s what Uridije has to say:
Uridije Lajçi, Freiburg, Germany
1. How did you decide to apply for the Erasmus programme to Germany?
Considering I was a German language student, I have always wanted to finish a semester in Germany, or even apply for a Master’s degree there. So, when I saw the Erasmus scholarship announcement at the University of Prishtina, I immediately decided to apply.
2. What challenges did you experience during the application process (if any)? Are there any tips you would like to give to potential applicants?
I did not face any challenges during the application process. The whole process is well-instructed in the Erasmus application guidelines.
3. What was the worth of your scholarship/monthly stipend?
The monthly stipend I received through the scholarship was 800 EUR. This amount was enough to cover all the monthly living expenses in Germany.
4. Did the university help you with accommodation in Germany?
Yes, as soon as we (Erasmus students) arrived, we were assigned mentors who helped us with accommodation, and it’s with their help we got settled in shared flats (Wohngemeinschaft). I’d also like to mention that the university also paid for our travel services, for the six months we lived there. Although this was actually provided as a gift to us (the first students from Prishtina to go to the University of Freiburg through Erasmus).
5. Is there any advice you would like to give to future exchange students regarding accommodation?
In Freiburg, we had the opportunity to choose from six different student dormitories, and we could do so online. One thing I would like to advise potential students is to get as much information as they can regarding the living conditions in the dorms or flat shares, since not everything is as it appears in pictures.
6. What was the university like in Germany? Did it meet/exceed your expectations? What’s something you liked most about the German education system?
The university actually exceeded my expectations. Apart from the excellent study conditions, the library, and the comfortable work environment, what I actually liked the most about the university was the subject organization. The student could choose whether they wanted to work on seminars, and submit a seminar paper at the end, or enter the exam. I chose to work on seminars. Working on seminars turned out to be quite convenient, especially for students who have a tight schedule.
The classes were held in the form of discussions, something that really brought forward the politeness of the professors towards the students. During discussions, no opinions were disregarded or laughed at, even at times when international students had a hard time expressing themselves, the professors were very understanding and polite. They were also always ready for consultations, especially for students of the Erasmus programme.
7. What would you say about the living costs in Germany? Would they be affordable for the average international student?
If the university costs are covered, then the other expenses are affordable. I was actually surprised for the better at the cost of food, clothing, and accommodation in student dormitories.
8. Do you think German language is essential to get around Germany?
My classes were held in German, which was not a problem for me since I speak the language. However, there were certain courses where the German language was not a requirement. I have also gotten to know a lot of other international students who could get around quite well in Germany without speaking the language.
9. Have you done any travelling around Germany during your Erasmus experience?
During the time (me and my friends) spent in Germany, we travelled not only within Germany but also outside of Germany. Within Germany, I visited places like Stuttgart, Konstanz, München, Karlsruhe, and Friedrichshafen. Outside of Germany, I visited Paris, Colmar, Amsterdam, Milan, Venice, Pisa, Florence, and Como.
10. Were there any other international students like you where you studied? Where were they from? Did you manage to create any new friendships?
Yes, I met many other international students during my time in Germany. Those who I created friendships with were from China, Russia, Australia, Canada, and Romania.
11. What were some of the best and most challenging things during your time in Germany?
Some of the best things during my time in Germany mainly consisted of getting to experience the German educational system, making use of the loads of literature available at the university library, as well as meeting new people.
Among the most challenging, I would say making use of shared spaces in WG, such as the kitchen and bathroom, as well as the feelings of homesickness.
12. Was your exchange experience in Germany worth it? How do you think the experience has made you better?
My Erasmus experience was undoubtedly worth it! This experience has made me a better student and an informed individual. At the same time, it has provided me with some of the best memories, friendship-wise. The cherry on top were all the travelling I managed to do during the six months as an international student in Germany.