Making memories that will last a lifetime Past Review

By (, Xavier University) - abroad from 01/06/2016 to 05/14/2016 with

European Study Center: Heidelberg - Study Abroad in the EU

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
This trip was unbelievably worthwile for me. I learned so much not only about the German culture, but also about many other cultures as we traveled all around the country. I met so many incredible people, experienced so many new things, and did so many things I never thought I would have the opportunity to do. I learned how to become more independent, how to budget my money for traveling, how to deal with conflict in an adult manner, and most importantly how many things at home I took for granted. Being away from my family for an extended period of time was difficult for me, but it made me appreciate everything I have at home more than I did when I left.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Well educated professors, the classes were difficult enough that I felt like I could not just skate by, but were not so intense that I felt I was spending my entire time doing schoolwork.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Our coordinators are all wonderful people, but the communication prior to leaving was a little lacking and there were a lot of times I felt they were very disorganized. The interns we had for the bulk of the semester were all very helpful and knowledgable.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The area that we live in is very nice and quiet, but the house was not as safe as I would have liked. There is so many places in the house that are left unlocked and so many different people who are coming in and out of the house that sometimes we would encounter random strangers and have no idea why they were here. The accomadations were nice, but I sometimes questioned the overall safety of the house.

* Food:

German food in general is wonderful, but Heidelberg also has a lot of variety of restaurants so you will always be able to find something.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

While we had the chance to go on excursions and visit local companies, and were forced to be quite independent, becuase of our classes being in the same place as we were living, it was very difficult to meet other college students in the area unless you took classes at SRH.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

The biggest issue I found with the healthcare system was the limited availablility for me to access medicine. Unlike in the States, you cannot just purchase over the counter medicine from the stores, but have to go to a specific pharmacy and usually have to have a perscription.

* Safety:

Heidelberg is most definitely a very safe city. Other than petty theft, I did not witness or hear of any major crimes. While it is important to always be aware of your surroundings, I felt much safer in Heidelberg than I would have in some of the other cities I have just visited.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes

I met so many wonderful people during this semester, who I know I will continue to talk to long after the semester is over, and made so many memories that I cant imagine why I ever doubted this experience. While there were many times I felt very homesick and questioned my choice to come on this trip, I would not trade my experience here for anything.


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

Living in Heidelberg was very easy on my budget. If you shop in the right places, limit how much you spend eating out, and follow a travel budget, you should not have a problem. I believe the food here is a lot cheaper in the States, so with the right planning you can stick to a pretty simple budget.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $70
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Plan traveling in advance. Just like everywhere else, the prices increase dramatically as you get closer to the departure date. You can go pretty much anywhere via buses for dirt cheap. There are great third party programs such as PM2AM or Bus2Alps that take the stress out of traveling, and are always a great trip for the price.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

We were encouraged to use it when we were out in the city, but other than a crash course at the beginning of the semester, we were not required to take a language course. I had no background in German when I came, but I have picked up a little bit and enough to get by while I have been here.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? None
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? 2nd semester of Spanish
How many hours per day did you use the language? 0
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? I felt a little out of place as I was one of the few here who could not hold a simple conversation in German. While I have not had too much of a problem, as most everyone speaks english, I would recommend at least a dictionary and learning some common phrases that will help if you get stuck in a situation with someone who speaks no english. My biggest struggle was not being able to understand the announcement on public transportation as they are spoken in German, and grocery shopping could be a little tough as well if you are not sure how certain foods translate.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • My fellow students and our interns
  • Safety of the city of Heidelberg
  • Ease of travel from such a central location
* What could be improved?
  • Pre departure communication
  • Information about classes offered at ESC and SRH
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I would have known the importance of being able to communicate at least a little bit in German. I was told that I could get by without knowing any of the language, but there were several times, expecially when traveling alone, I could not understand what I was being told becuase I did not know the language.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

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The Outright Urbanite
A social butterfly, you're happiest in bustling cities with hip people, and took advantage of all it had to offer. You enjoyed the nightlife, and had fun going out dancing, and socializing with friends. Fun-loving and dressed to the nines, you enjoyed discovering new restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars in your host country.