Germany: It sucked, but I'm glad I did it. Past Review

By (German/Political Science, Tulane University) for

Friedrich Schiller University of Jena: Jena - Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I think it was worthwhile in that I learned a lot about myself and what I DONT like, and I am now completely fluent in German. I suppose I am adopting a buddhist approach that growth comes from suffering. I know how to deal with extreme unhappiness, I know how to commit myself to a project which seems absolutely impossible. I'm not sure you want to put that in your brochures, though.

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.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I thought the people at Uni Jena tried their absolute hardest to be helpful to me. While I did not always find what they had to say to be very useful, I knew that they were willing to assist me if they could. I had occasional professors who were rude, just like at Tulane, but on average I found my seminar professors and even over half of my lecture professors to be helpful people, on par with American professors (even though I believe that is rather rare in Germany). Two thumbs up!

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I was generally satisfied with my housing. I guess I am a unique case in that I had major issues with my first set of roommates. However, I found the people in the housing office very helpful in trying to switch, and my second set of roommates in the spring and summer were amazing people who I was thrilled to have lived with.

* Food:

Well i cooked most of my meals but I think tulane could learn a lot from the mensas- Student eating should be about making food CHEAPER for students such as myself who are on scholarship and not rich enough to eat 9 dollar bruff meals or 7 dollar LBC meals. Mensa food is balanced (if not exactly healthy) meals for less than 3 euros. I know the study abroad office can't do anything about that but it is my soap box.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Clearly the program in Jena is one of the more academic ones Tulane offers (which by the way I find absurd, that many students get to travel etc. as a result of their program where I am paying the same price for you to do absolutely NOTHING. You really really need to work on the finance stuff). However, their international office organizes a lot of stuff, including country-themed dinners, hikes, tight-rope and climbing adventures, and excursions to major cities about twice a semester, all of which is pretty enjoyable.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I give my program a pro even though tulane had nothing to do with this. I dig that we could get our own insurance- I know compared to the IES kids I had a great healthcare plan and cheaper, too. Never change that!!! Germany's just a safe, healthy place, though.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No


* 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)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Uhh, I dont know. Food was cheaper. I'd say 6 euros a day for food was average once I got acclimated, got tupperware, etc, about 50 euros a week (excluding going out for meals with friends, etc). Beer and wine were also cheaper. The only things that were more expensive were clothes, shoes (!!!!!) and haircuts. I had to buy a whole new winter wardrobe while I was there, though (I am from the south!), which ran me a LOT. I also tried to buy cheap shoes and they all ended up with massive holes in them so I regret not buying one 150 euro pair when I got there.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Jena specific: Buy food at Aldi. Don't eat sandwiches from the street vendors because even though 2 euros sounds cheap, it is not filling and that stuff builds up- it's the same price as a whole meal from the Mensa. Travel by Mitfahrgelegenheit exclusively within Germany, and use Germanwings, Easyjet and Ryanair to travel within europe (no trains!), but make sure to read the rules on carry ons, etc. very carefully beforehand.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Germ480
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

While the Language Acquisition course at the Goethe Institut wasn't SPECTACULAR I found it helpful. The program overall however was of course complete emersion. At the beginning I had difficulties understanding lectures and never participated in class, but by the end I understood all of the lectures and was occasionally even courageous enough to raise my hand.

Direct Enrollment/Exchange

* Did you study abroad through an exchange program or did you directly enroll in the foreign university? Exchange

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • International Students
  • Local Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • International Students

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Know the hardships before going in. Don't go in expecting a good time. It may be harder than Tulane, and probably will be. But if you stick with it, you can learn a lot academically and about yourself